Monday, July 20, 2009

How to use the Glycemic Index to get the energy you want

The glycemic index—or GI—is a measure of how high and for how long a food raises your blood glucose or blood sugar level.

Foods that are digested quickly have a high GI and raise blood glucose and insulin dramatically. Foods that are digested more slowly don't raise blood glucose or insulin levels nearly as high and are considered “low GI”.

This is very far from an exact science. The GI of a food is affected by how much of it you eat, how you combine it with other foods, how it is prepared, what time of day you eat, and even what you have eaten the day before.

However, these general guidelines can help you plan your eating to keep your energy level on track. Foods with a high GI will deliver a short burst of energy (great if you are about to take a run or a spin class); foods with a low GI will deliver longer, sustained energy and are generally better for a stable metabolism.

To be smart about your eating habits, avoid eating foods with a high GI if you are simply going to sit on your sofa. They’ll end up stored as fat, make you gain weight, and you’ll feel tired as soon as your blood glucose level drops.

In general, foods with a low GI are better for your overall health and energy level. Use high GI foods sparingly, unless you need quick emergency blood glucose replacement to keep going or to keep your energy level from crashing.

Here’s an easy chart to help you figure out which foods are low GI and which are high.

Lark Miller
phone: 415.250.5236

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