Find out what the GI is and how it can help you to make healthier diet choices.
GI – Stands for Glycemic Index. The GI ranks food by how quickly the carbohydrates they contain are broken down. The rate at which carbohydrates break down (are digested) affects how quickly blood sugar levels rise.
Low to Hight GI
- Low GI Foods: 0-55 – produces a gradual release of sugar.
- Medium GI Foods: 56–69 – produces a moderate release of sugar.
- High GI Foods: 70-100 produces a rapid release of sugar.
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Several factors affect whether a food ranks high or low on the index. These include, how refined the carbohydrate is, the type of sugars it contains, it’s nutrient content and whether the food is cooked or raw. With fruit, its ripeness is also a factor.
Low GI foods are digested more slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer. The gradual release of sugars can help energy levels remain more constant and prevent rapid peaks of blood sugars.
A Handy Tool
The GI only indexes foods containing carbohydrates and it can sometimes fail to reflect a food’s overall healthiness. Some fruits and vegetables rank higher than chocolate. This is because the fat and protein in the chocolate slows down the absorption of the carbohydrates.
Familiarising yourself with where foods sit on the index can help you make healthier choices. Low GI foods, unsurprisingly, are largely obviously healthy – Most fruits and vegetables are low on the GI index. Beans and pulses and nuts are also low and provide a good source of protein.
Starchy foods will naturally rank higher on the index and too many carbs can sabotage your weight-loss. But we all need a certain amount of carbohydrates for energy and cutting out carbs completely is a very hard slog. Choosing complex, low GI carbohydrates over refined ones will be better for when you are watching what you eat.
The GI index can be a handy tool when deciding between certain foods like deciding on your bread for a sandwhich. Choosing wholewheat sourdough over a baguette will give you a slower release of energy and help you feel fuller for longer.
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