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Glycemic Index

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The Glycemic Index (GI) is a guide for rating the effect that foods have on blood sugar levels, especially carbohydrates (rice, bread, potatoes, and pasta). This system of rating carbohydrate intake was developed in the early 1980’s by Canadian Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto. The Glycemic Index measures how much your blood sugar rises after eating a specific food. The higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. Pure sugar or glucose rates 100 on the Glycemic Index scale and then all other foods are given a number relative to it. The GI value (number rating) of a food is determined by how quickly the body breaks it down and converts it into glucose (sugar) which is the body’s main source of energy. Foods that are high in GI value break down very quickly causing a rapid rise in blood sugar whereas foods with a low GI value take longer to breakdown resulting in a slower and steadier rise in blood sugar.

 

Glycemic Index and Health

Using the Glycemic Index clearly helps to make better food choices that may prevent certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It is also used as a management tool for controlling adult diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity. The Glycemic Index is also a useful nutritional guide for people not suffering from a chronic disease.

 

Glycemic Index and Weight Loss

The Glycemic Index is recommended by the World Health Organization and the American Diabetes Association as a “promising approach to healthy eating”, but the main drawback is its difficulty. Unless you are a theoretical physicist you will find the Glycemic Index hard to use because it is so complicated. Many factors affect the Glycemic Index rating of a specific food, such as how the food is prepared and what‘s eaten with it. Furthermore the GI value of some foods is simply not known. So for these reasons the American Diabetes Association does not recommend a low glycemic index diet for people with diabetes. However eating foods with a low GI value provide a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time thereby reducing snack intake and aiding in weight loss.

 

Glycemic Index Diet

A Glycemic Index Diet will consist of 40% low GI value carbohydrates, 30% lean protein and 30% mostly unsaturated fats.NutriSystem is an example of a portion controlled weight loss program based on the Glycemic Index. eDiets has an on-line version of a glycemic index based diet. For complete information on how to calculate and rate foods according to the Glycemic Index go to www.glycemicindex.com.


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