For those of you who are more serious about your weight loss or simply want to be healthier and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the GI is just the thing you’re looking for. To start off I’ll go over a brief description of what exactly the GI is and why it is important to your health and fat loss goals.
Whenever you eat anything (fat, carbohydrates, proteins), your body goes to work using those calories for energy, repair, brain function, etc. In this process, mostly due to the intake of carbohydrates, your body releases its hormone Insulin from the Pancreas into the bloodstream. Insulin is the major hormone that allows the transport of nutrients and calories from the bloodstream into the cells. Imagine all the cells in your body as a locked door. In order to open the door you need a key. Insulin is that key. It binds to the cells and allows the transport of calories and nutrients into the cells. Now depending on the food consumed or the glycemic index rating of that food, the insulin will either be a very fast abundant release or a slow and steady release. Our goal is to induce a slow and steady release of insulin. Insulin can be your best friend when you encourage a slow release because it will promote level blood sugar levels all day, resulting in steady energy and increased fat loss. When you spike the release of insulin, the body freaks out and tries to rapidly decline this level. The bad news is that by rapidly declining the level of insulin in the blood the calories will mainly go to fat cells because they are the easiest site of storage. Storing calories in muscle tissue is a more lengthy process so the body stores it in the fat. Your body doesn’t care where it stores it, as long as it has energy. I know you probably hate your body now for this reason. Our bodies were designed to store energy as backup in the event that a famine ever occured. Having a slow and steady release of insulin into the bloodstream will encourage the body to use fat stores as energy and will ensure that you don’t have an energy crash throughout the day like you would when you cause an insulin spike. Also, an insulin spike is the very reason you are hungry shortly after eating a meal like chinese food. The abundance of insulin stores the calories so fast that you end up with insulin left over in the bloodstream, thus signaling your brain that you need more food so the insulin can do its job.
Another thing I would like to note here is the danger of constantly causing an insulin spike in your body. Your body is very adaptable to everything. You work out for a few weeks and eventually it adapts and you can run longer or lift more weight. In another sense, regular alcoholic beverages will increase your “tolerance” causing you to need more to feel the same effect. Your body is also adaptable to its own hormones. The constant, everyday abuse of high insulin levels in the blood will cause your cells to become “de-sensitized” to the insulin. What this means is that the cells will be less likely to respond to the insulin or require more insulin to produce the same effect that it did before. This is exactly what Type II Diabetes is. After so long the cells will become so de-sensitized that the insulin will no longer transport the calories into the cells, thus resulting in high blood sugar levels. By ensuring a steady release of insulin you actually increase the sensitivity of the cells allowing your body to use less insulin to get the job done. I will also note, if you haven’t heard before, this is yet another benefit to fish oils (omega-3 and -6 fatty acids). Fish oil has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and promote healthier use of the calories you ingest, thus also lowering your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you already have diabetes, for instance you were diagnosed at a young age with Type I diabetes or contracted Type II later in age, then using the glycemic index can still be very beneficial to you. I know for an example, my sister, regularly sees her endocrinologist (studies the endocrine system, i.e. hormones) to check her recent blood sugar levels and change her insulin dosages accordingly. By eating foods low on the GI, you can keep your insulin sensitivity high so you will be less likely to have to increase your insulin dosages every time you see your doctor.
The Glycemic Index gives a number from 1 to 100 to foods based on how fast they are absorbed by the body (basically how fast or slow the insulin is released into the blood stream). 55 and below is considered low, 56 to 69 is medium, and 70 to 100 is high.
The ONLY time I would encourage the use of a high GI carb is after exercise because at this point your muscles are in a state of super compensation, meaning they are trying to rapidly replace muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores in the muscle cells. This is good because it will start recovery immediately and ensure you have the energy for the next days workout. Therefore the meal after your workout should include some high GI carbs like grape juice or a sports drink to replenish your muscles energy stores. Besides this meal you should opt for low to medium GI carbs. Other high GI carbs include candy, bleached flour, table sugar, white bread, white rice, potatoes, and soda. If you go with organic food it is low on the GI scale 99% of the time. Most of the foods that are high on the GI scale have been processed, like white bread, to give it a longer shelf life. When processed the original fiber and nutrient content is virtually all taken out leaving you with nothing but an insulin spiking meal.
It is not completely necessary to research all the food you eat on glycemicindex.com as most GI foods are self explanatory. Foods high in fiber such as vegetables, whole wheat bread and rice, yams, beans, and oatmeal are all low on the GI scale. Although milk has no fiber, it has a low GI rating of 21. If you love milk then this is good news for you, although you should try to keep it at at least 2% milk. You can also feel safe with the medium GI carbs as anything else with your meal will lower the GI rating of the meal. That doesn’t mean eat a ton of fat with your meal to lower the GI rating, but adding lean meat or some other protein source with a healthy source of fat will lower the GI rating of the meal as well as keep you full longer.
Now that we have a good understanding of the Glycemic index and how it can affect weight loss and overall health, I wish you luck on your goals of fat loss, overall health, or whatever your goal may be. Remember to eat 5-6 small meals a day all containing low to medium GI carbs with a protein and healthy fat source. Do this and you WILL notice more fat loss as well as a better sense of well being since you will likely not have the awful “sugar crash” anymore. And as always if you would like any more information feel free to email me at email@example.com.