I begin this week’s post with the age old question, “Why am I always hungry twenty minutes after eating Chinese food?!” Why does it always seem that by the time you pack all the left over Chinese food into the refrigerator, you are ready to pull it back out and go for round two? Well, here’s a theory: simple carbohydrates = high glycemic index = hungry soon after eating. I’m sure you guessed it; this week’s post is about the glycemic index and why it’s important to maintain a diet with a low glycemic index.
The glycemic index simply ranks carbohydrates by the effect they have on our blood glucose level, or blood sugar level. The blood glucose level fluctuates as we eat, and depending on what types of carbohydrates and sugars we eat, so does our energy. When we eat simple carbs and sugars (high glycemic index foods), our blood sugar spikes rapidly causing us to feel energized. This is where you have to be careful. This immediate spike in energy will also lead to a rapid drop in energy and a feeling of hunger more quickly after eating. When we eat complex carbohydrates without the refined sugars (low glycemic index foods), our blood glucose level will slowly rise and slowly fall, keeping us energized and full for longer periods of time. This means we eat less, thus better controlling our weight.
The benefits to switching to a low glycemic index diet are endless. Not only does it help diabetics with their blood sugar level, but it also reduces the risk for heart disease, helps weight loss programs, improves blood cholesterol and gives you more energy for physical endurance. These are just a few benefits. So the question is: how do I eat a low glycemic index diet? The basic guidelines that don’t include seeing the glycemic index are simple:
- Oats, Barley, and Bran
- Whole grain breads
- Pack your diet with fruits and vegetables
- Simple Carbohydrates like those found in potatoes, white rice, etc.
- Anything, especially grains, that has been processed
Some foods will list the Glycemic index though most people find it too much of a bother to actually search out the GI of foods. However, if you choose to do so, here are the basic guidelines:
- Low (good) Glycemic Index: 54 or less
- Medium Glycemic Index: 55-69
- High (bad) Glycemic Index: 70 or higher