Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Is The Glycemic Index? by Andrew Mason

The glycemic index was developed to help us identify and regulate the role of carbohydrates, as they interact with our bodies. We are able to see how each individual food is processed and we can make assumptions about eating the wrong type of food, according to the way it is prepared and the size of each portion. The index classifies foods by rating them between zero and 100, with the lower the better. We need to be sure that our body can process and digest food more slowly, as if the opposite is true, we can put too much stress and strain on our systems. For example, the pancreas is forced to work overtime to produce blood glucose levels and insulin to be able to deal with a higher volume of carbohydrates that break down faster. This is how diabetes develops and it is also difficult for us to regulate our weight, this way.

The glycemic response refers to the speed at which particular carbohydrates affect our blood glucose levels. We have to avoid, at all costs, those spikes in our insulin levels caused by simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are much more difficult for our body to break down and the fact that this process takes time means that our organs do not become overly stressed.

We can split the glycemic index into three categories, ranking food according to whether it is low, moderate or high. At the top end of the scale, a ranking of 100 equates to pure glucose. If we eat far too many of these foods we will just feel less satisfied, tend to be hungry all the time, look for the "sugar rush" snacks and set ourselves up for problems.

A diet is broken down into proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We need each category, but it must be balanced. The glycemic index refers to carbohydrate rankings, but we cannot focus only on these alone as we need to have protein in the right quantity and a certain amount of the correct type of fat as well. Protein and fat will help to balance the worst characteristics of high GI carbohydrates. In addition, we should make sure that we have a sufficient amount of fiber within our carbs, as this slows down the body's processing time.

We don't have to avoid foods that are found toward the higher end of the glycemic index altogether, although if we have already developed diabetes we have to be even more careful, unfortunately. The index does advise us to base our main dietary intake on foods at the bottom end of the scale. It is here that we find those vegetables and fruits. Remember to balance food from the higher end of the list with beneficial proteins.

Paying attention to the glycemic index will help people avoid sugar cravings. You will be much more successful with weight control. Experts tell us that we could experience those cravings as often as 10 times per day. You have to be very stoic to resist!