What is the Glycemic Index and Why Does it Matter?

In Tips by Haley ClineLeave a Comment

According to the Harvard Medical School published in 2015, the glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Also known as “blood sugar,” blood glucose levels above normal are toxic and can cause blindness, kidney failure, or increase cardiovascular risk.

The Glycemic Index

Foods low on the glycemic index (GI) scale tend to release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods high on the glycemic index release glucose rapidly. Low GI foods tend to foster weight loss, while foods high on the GI scale help with energy recovery after exercise, or to offset hypo- (or insufficient) glycemia. Long-distance runners would tend to
favor foods high on the glycemic index, while people with pre- or full-blown diabetes would need to concentrate on low GI foods. Why?

Insulin and Blood Sugar

People with type 1 diabetes and even some with type 2 can’t produce sufficient quantities of insulin—which helps process blood sugar—which means they are likely to have an excess of blood glucose. The slow and steady release of glucose in low-glycemic foods is helpful in keeping blood glucose under control.

What Does It Mean for You?

As a health and fitness professional, this information is vital in helping clients understand how their bodies react to certain foods. Some “healthy” foods could be harmful to their bodies or keep them from accomplishing their goals.  For example, if you are wanting to lose weight you need to understand that all fruit is not created equal. Eating
a banana would be considered eating a high glycemic index food, while choosing an apple would be considered a low glycemic fruit. The better choice for most us would be the apple.

It is important to know how to fuel your body correctly. We want our glycemic levels to be balanced most of the time. If your body is in a constant up and down chaotic state with blood sugar levels, it is hard for your body to regulate itself. This end result is weight gain and diabetes. Below is a widely accepted index of fruits. Choose wisely!

LOW
Cherries – 32
Grapefruit – 36
Apricots, dried – 44
Pear, fresh – 53
Apple – 54
Plum – 55
Peach, fresh – 60
Orange – 63
Grapes – 66
Peach, canned – 67
Kiwi – 75
Banana – 77
MODERATE
Fruit cocktail – 79
Mango – 80
Apricots, fresh – 82
Raisins – 91
Cantaloupe – 93
Pineapple – 94
HIGH
Watermelon – 103
Dates – 141

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