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While “one-size” does not fit all, most people do well when following a lowglycemic eating plan for overall health and weight loss. In addition, because maintenance is the key, low glycemic eating is attractive because there is so much scientific evidence that this works best in the long run. This lowglycemic approach to eating is a scientifically proven method that can keep you fuller longer, give you more energy and prevent overeating, all of which allow weight loss to occur. If you want to skip the following simple explanation and go right to the web site of main researcher and proponent of low glycemic eating, visit http://www.glycemicindex.com/aboutGI.htm. You’ll learn about Jennie Brand-Miller, one of the world's leading authorities on the glycemic index. She and her co-authors have published a number of practical books on how choosing low GI carbohydrates – as well as an exhaustive list of the Glycemic index of foods. However this exhaustive list is somewhat cumbersome to use, as are all online GI resources. So, at the end of thid guige you will find a list of common foods and how they rank on the Glycemic Index. What is the Glycemic Index? Low glycemic eating employs the science of the glycemic index (GI) to help you plan healthy meals and snacks. The glycemic index is a system that ranks foods by how much they raise blood sugar. The more a food raises blood sugar, the more insulin your body releases in response. High-GI foods (ones that raise blood sugar more) can cause your body to store more fat. They can also cause the “sugar crash” that leaves you sleepy and tired and more likely to overeat. The Glycemic Index of a carbohydrate (starch or sugar) is based on its rate of glycemic response (i.e. its conversion to glucose within the human body). The Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index of 100. When your blood sugar rises quickly, your body increases insulin production, telling your body to store fat. Glycemic Index values are determined experimentally by feeding human test subjects a fixed portion of the food (after an overnight fast), and subsequently extracting and measuring samples of their blood at specific intervals of time.
By using the Glycemic Index to choose what we eat, we aim to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar. There is a large and growing body of knowledge that documents the advantages of low glycemic eating from cardiovascular disease reduction (improved HDL, blood triglycerides, improved glycemic control), delayed diabetes diagnosis and therapy, reduced gestational diabetes risk, weight loss, fat loss v. lean tissue loss, and even reduced risk of certain cancers. Low-GI foods are generally those that are low in carbohydrates or consist of long-chain carbohydrates like those found in vegetables and legumes and therefore more slowly release their sugars, causing a greater feeling of satiety. Frits may be low, medium, or high GI. The riper the fruit, the sweeter it is--and the higher the GI. The more processed or cooked a food is, the higher the GI, so avid over-ripe, overcooked, over-processed foods.
Many European countries, most notably the UK, have embraced the low-GI idea, with GI products and labelling in place alerting consumers to low- and medium-GI foods. This is catching on in the US also. The Glycemic Index Yields Some Surprises Nutritionists used to believe that all simple sugars digested quickly and caused a rapid rise in blood sugar, and that the opposite was true for "complex carbohydrates". But that's not always the case. While many sweet and sugary foods do have high GI's, some starchy foods like potatoes or white bread score even higher than honey or table sugar (sucrose)! Why is the Glycemic Index Important? Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger. And if it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. Also, the greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that your body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down too low. Therefore, when you eat foods that cause a large and rapid glycemic response, you may feel an initial elevation in energy and mood as your blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of increased fat storage, lethargy, and more hunger! 2
Quick Guide to Desirable GI levels Low GI: 55 or below Moderate: 56- 69 High: 70 or above You can search for the glycemic index of certain foods at http://www.glycemicindex.com/. To search for a food, enter the name only. To generate a list of all high GI foods, enter > 55 in the glycemic index field. For a list of low GI foods, enter < 55 in the glycemic index field. If you enter bread in the name field and < 55 in the glycemic index field, you'll get a list of all breads with a GI less than 55. * Foods containing little or no carbohydrate (such as meat, fish, eggs, avocado, wine, beer, spirits, most vegetables) cannot have a GI value. No carbs = no GI.
What is the Glycemic Load? It's not Glycemic Index alone that leads to the increase in blood sugar. Equally important is the amount of the food that you consume. The concept of Glycemic Index combined with total intake is referred to as "Glycemic Load" (GL). It takes into consideration the quantity of a carbohydrate you are likely to consume as one serving. Glycemic load is a method of ranking foods based on their carbohydrate content, glycemic index, and portion size. It is actually a better indicator of the actual impact a food has on your body. The glycemic load concept was first popularized in 1997 by Dr. Walter Willett and associates at the Harvard School of Public Health. It was calculated as the GI value of the food multiplied by the amount of the available carbohydrate in a usual portion size, divided by 100. Glycemic Load is therefore determined by this simple mathematical formula: GL = GI x Net Carbs divided by 100 (Net Carbs are equal to the Total Carbohydrates minus Dietary Fiber) Example: a serving of carrots is approximately 3 ounces; the net carb is low and the GL is low, even though the carbohydrate in it on the high side. A simple way to remember the difference: Glycemic Index is about the quality of a carbohydrate you’re eating The Glycemic load is about the quantity of the carbohydrate you’re eating. 3
The best way lower the glycemic load of a meal is by adding other foods high in fiber. Protein also blunts the impact, as does fat… but don’t go overboard. A candy bar might be high in fat and have some fiber and protein, which blunts the glycemic impact of the sugars in it. But does this make it a good choice?
Quick Guide to Glycemic Load Low GL: 10 or below Moderate: 11-19 High GL: 20 or above A daily GL of 80 is considered to be low; anything above 120 is considered to be high. Here are some frequently asked questions, followed by an easy to use list of the most commonly eaten foods along with their glycemic index. Remember—a food’s glycemic index alone is not the only indication of the effect on your blood sugar levels, nor is it the only an indication of the overall “healthfulness” of a food. For example, the carbohydrate in the food may have a low Glycemic index, but it may contain a lot of that carbohydrate, or the portions we eat tend to be large. This would increase the glycemic “impact” on the body. Or, a food may have a low glycemic index, but contain a lot of unhealthy fat. What is the "Glycemic Index"? The "Glycemic Index" is simply a numerical ranking of foods based on their immediate effect to raise your blood sugar. It measures how fast the carbohydrate of a particular food is converted to glucose and enters the bloodstream. A food with a high number enters the bloodstream faster than one with a lower number. Stick to the lower numbered foods and you lower your blood sugar. How is a "Glycemic Index" determined? In a clinically controlled setting, 50-gram portions of food are fed to people who have fasted overnight. The rise in blood sugar is measured every 15 minutes for 3 hours and then plotted on a graph. The area under the curve is measured and indexed against glucose at 100. That number is the food's glycemic index. The higher the rise in blood sugar, the higher the glycemic index of that food How does low glycemic eating work?
All carbohydrates are not the same. Some "gush" into your blood stream and spike your blood sugar. Others just "trickle" in slowly keeping it low. Knowing which carbs are which and then choosing "tricklers" not "gushers" is the secret to making the diet work. Will low glycemic eating help control diabetes? Yes. And it works for people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. In study after study a low-GI diet reduced the HbA1c levels in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In a recent study of children with Type 1 diabetes the low glycemic index diet dramatically improved their blood glucose control and the diet was easier for them to understand compared to the American Diabetes Association approved diet. Ref: Diabetes Care 24:1137-1143, 2001. Will low glycemic eating help me lose weight? Yes. Losing weight is not just a matter of reducing the amount of food you eat. Since foods with a low glycemic index are absorbed more slowly, the calories from the food you eat are more likely to be burned throughout the day as energy, rather than stored as fat. Low glycemic index foods help your body burn more body fat plus they have the added advantage of filling you up and keep you from getting hungry. Studies have shown that even when calorie intake is the same, you can lose more weight eating low GI foods vs. high GI foods. What research supports the use of the Diet? A. Over the past 20 years 120 published research studies have been conducted on the value of a low GI-diet. In addition to this you may want to read: "The Glucose Revolution…An authoritative Guide to The Glycemic Index" co-authored by J. Brand-Miller, Phd. and T. Wolever, M.D., Phd., who are two of the world's foremost authorities on the low GI-diet. Bottom line: The higher the index, the faster the food eaten will raise blood sugar. Refined products such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes, sugar, etc. will create a fast surge in blood sugar. Their index is high. Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, most vegetables, etc. have a lower index. Blood sugar is raised slowly when these foods are eaten. The exceptions are corn and white potatoes. Both have a high GI. Remember—the glycemic index alone of a food is not an indication of the effect on your blood sugar levels, nor is it an indication of the overall 5
“healthfulness” of a food. For example, the carbohydate in the food may have a low Glycemic index, but it may contain a lot of that carbohydrate, or the portions we eat tend to be large. This would increase the glycemic “impact” on the body. Or, a food may have a low glycemic index, but contain a lot of unhealthy fat. Summary of foods with a low or medium glycemic index. Low index foods (GI of under 55) include: lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, lima peas, split beans; most fruits including apples, cherries, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, grapefruit; non-starchy vegetables including asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green and yellow beans, tomatoes, zucchini; whole wheat pasta, nuts and peanuts. Moderate glycemic index (GI of 56-69) foods include: yams, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, canned beans, slow-cooking oatmeal. High index foods (GI of over 69) include: refined (white) bread, crackers and pretzels, popcorn, corn chips, instant rice, instant oatmeal, cookies, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, danishes, ice cream, jams and jellies, potatoes (white), turnips; some fruits such as dates, raisins, canned fruits in syrup, kiwi, mango, papaya, watermelon, pineapple, and honey. Foods in the low to moderate glycemic index ranges should be eaten for effective weight loss. The majority of the foods however should be in the low glycemic range. Foods from the high glycemic group should be eaten only occasionally. Grains should be eaten in small amounts, if at all—much smaller than we are used to, because their GI tends to be high. Even whole grains, when eaten in large amounts, raise the glycemic load. Many people notice that more than any other food, grains trigger over eating and, in the gluten sensitive, can cause distressing symptoms. Food FRUIT Cherries Grapefruit Prunes Apple 22 25 29 38 6 GI Value
Pear, fresh Plum Strawberries Orange Peach, fresh Grapes Mango Banana Fruit Cocktail Papaya Raisins Apricots, fresh Kiwi Figs, dried Cantaloupe Pineapple, fresh Watermelon Dates VEGETABLES Broccoli Cabbage Lettuce Mushrooms Onions Red Peppers Carrots Green peas Corn, fresh Beets Pumpkin Parsnips Yam Sweet potato New potato Mashed potato French Fries Baked potato Red skinned, boiled SOUPS Tomato Minestrone Lentil
38 39 40 42 42 46 51 52 55 56 56 57 58 61 65 66 72 103 10 10 10 10 10 10 49 48 60 64 75 97 37 44 57 70 75 85 88 38 39 44 7
Black Bean Pea BEANS & PEAS Chana Dal Chickpeas Kidney Beans Lentils Lima Beans Yellow Split Peas Chickpeas, canned Blackeyed Peas, Kidney Beans CEREALS All Bran with Fiber Muesli Bran Buds Oat Bran Bran Chex Raisin Bran Cream of Wheat Quick Oats Pancakes Puffed Wheat Special K Grapenuts Bran Flakes Cheerios Shredded Wheat Rice Krispies Corn Chex Corn Flakes CRACKERS Stoned Wheat Thins Ryvita Crispbread Melba Toast Kavli Crispbread Soda Crackers Graham Crackers Water crackers Rice Cakes Rice Crackers
64 66 8 28 28 29 32 32 42 42 52 38 43 47 55 58 61 66 66 67 67 69 71 74 74 75 82 83 92 67 69 70 71 74 74 78 82 91 8
SWEETENERS Fructose Marmalade Honey Jams Sucrose Pancake Syrup
19 48 55 65 68 76
PASTA Fettuccini (egg) 32 Spaghetti, whole wheat 37 Spaghetti, white 38 Star Pastina 38 Spiral Pasta 43 Capellini 45 Linguine 46 Macaroni 47 Rice vermicelli 58 GRAINS Barley, pearled Converted, White Long grain, White Buckwheat Brown Basmati Couscous Cornmeal Aborio Short grain, White Instant, White Wild rice Glutinous (Sticky) DAIRY Whole milk Skim milk Yogurt, sweetened Ice cream, premium Ice cream, low fat SNACKS Hummus 25 38 4 54 55 58 65 68 69 72 87 87 98 31 32 33 38 43 6 9
Peanuts Walnuts Cashews Potato Chips Kudos Bar Corn Chips Popcorn Jelly Beans Pretzels JUICES Tomato Apple Pineapple Grapefuit Orange Cranberry Juice
15 15 22 57 62 63 72 78 83 38 40 46 48 53 68
BREADS Pumpernickel 41 Sourdough 53 Stone Ground whole wheat Pita, whole wheat 57 Whole Meal Rye 58 Hamburger bun 61 Croissant 67 Taco Shell 68 White 70 Bagel 72 Kaiser roll 73 Bread stuffing 74 Whole wheat (100%) 77 French Baguette 95 CAKES & COOKIES Sponge Cake Pound Cake Blueberry Muffin Pastry Pie Crust Bran Muffin Carrot Muffin Angel Food Cake Doughnut Scones 46 54 59 59 60 62 67 76 92
Chocolate Chip 44 Butter 47 Vanilla Crème Filled Wafers Oatmeal 55 Fudge 57 Shortbread 64 Waffles 76
PREPARED FOODS Fish Stick Fingers 38 Meat Ravioli 39 Cheese Tortellini 50 Pizza 60 Macaroni and Cheese (packaged) REFERENCES
Many chronic diseases have been shown to be related to high GI and GL of foods. These include diabetes[2,3], metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancers. Low GI and GL diets could contribute to a reduction in body mass in overweight, obese adolescents, or coronary heart disease (CHD) and have a small but clinically useful effect on medium-term glycemic control in patients with diabetes. Controlling the GI of your foods promotes normal blood-sugar levels and enables your body to stay in fat-burning mode and leaves you feeling energized, alert, and productive. 1 Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Taylor RH, Barker H, Fielden H, Baldwin JM, Bowling AC, Newman HC, Jenkins AL, Goff DV. Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. Am J Clin Nutr 1981; 34: 362-366 2 Salmerón J, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. JAMA 1997; 277: 472-477 3 Salmerón J, Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, Spiegelman D, Jenkins DJ, Stampfer MJ, Wing AL, Willett WC. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of NIDDM in men. Diabetes Care 1997; 20: 545-550 4 McKeown NM, Meigs JB, Liu S, Saltzman E, Wilson PW, Jacques PF. Carbohydrate nutrition, insulin resistance, and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Diabetes Care 2004; 27: 538-546 5 Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Franz M, Sampson L, Hennekens CH, Manson JE. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, 11
carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71: 1455-1461 6 Augustin LS, Gallus S, Negri E, La Vecchia C. Glycemic index, glycemic load and risk of gastric cancer. Ann Oncol 2004; 15: 581-584 7 McMillan-Price J, Petocz P, Atkinson F, O'neill K, Samman S, Steinbeck K, Caterson I, Brand-Miller J. Comparison of 4 diets of varying glycemic load on weight loss and cardiovascular risk reduction in overweight and obese young adults: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 2006; 166: 1466-1475 8 Barclay AW, Petocz P, McMillan-Price J, Flood VM, Prvan T, Mitchell P, Brand-Miller JC. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk--a meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87: 627-637 9 Brand-Miller J, Hayne S, Petocz P, Colagiuri S. Low-glycemic index diets in the management of diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care 2003; 26: 2261-2267.