What is the Glycemic Index and Why it is Important in Maintaining Your Weight?


Most people are now aware of how high blood sugar leads to health problems like type ii diabetes, but they aren’t fully aware of all the causes behind it. The glycemic index is one too that we use when it comes to our foods and determining how they affect our blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index tells us how fast the food is being converted in to sugar, the larger the number the faster it is being metabolized. The way the this works is that virtually every food you eat has some kind of carbohydrate in it, just at very different concentrations depending on the food item itself.

Some foods like meats for example which consist of protein, fat and virtually no carbohydrates score a 0 on the scale for example. Knowing the glycemic index of our foods is not only important in regulating our blood sugar, but foods with a  low index also keep us full for a longer period of time which helps us regulate our hunger. This allows us to eat less over time, and better maintain our weight and health.

Carbohydrates Are Not All Equal so Know the Difference

There are two different types of carbohydrates out there, and knowing the difference in what they are and how they affect our bodies can greatly aid you when it comes to maintaining weight.

preview-full-shutterstock_451539895Most people know that sodas and added sugar can spike their blood sugar levels which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Traditionally we were told to avoid simple sugars and to eat complex carbohydrates because complex carbohydrates consist of longer chains of molecules, and thus takes the body longer to break down.

These complex carbohydrates taking longer to break down means that the body is supplied with a more even amount of these carbohydrates over an extended period of time. This greatly differs than simple sugars that are easily broken down and thus spike blood sugar levels as a result.

This idea is a great in theory, however many of these complex carbohydrates we eat today especially many of the grains we eat, are not highly processed and refined. This processing leaves these grains in a different state than they are naturally, and thus when we digest these refined grains they act more like simple sugars than complex carbohydrates.

This is why in choosing the best foods in our diet when it comes to maintaining our blood sugar levels, we should look at the glycemic index of the food and no the type of sugars it contains. Basically there are other components of the food outside the sugar chains themselves that contributes to how they are processed by our bodies and thus how our blood sugar levels are affected.

Foods With a High Glycemic Index that You Should Avoid

As mentioned earlier many people know that table sugar has a high glycemic index, but other alternatives that are usually seen as healthier options have high glycemic indexes as well. This includes items like honey which is generally viewed as a health food.

preview-full-shutterstock_457174822Dried fruits are another food we want to avoid that are generally considered healthy. The problem with these foods are more psychological than physical, and have to do with portion control.

Most people don’t view a single raisin as an entire grape, or a dried apricot as an entire apricot because visually they are much smaller. This causes people to eat more of these than they would fresh fruit, and in turn consume more sugar which spikes their blood glucose.

Condiments are another food item people usually neglect when it comes to their blood glucose levels because again they are minor and are deemed insignificant. Condiments can be especially problematic when you eat out at restaurants because you have no idea what they are using, or how much.

Remember to not only take the sugar content of the food in to consideration, but other components like fiber content and other nutrients as well. This is why berries which are very high in sugar but also fiber are considered healthy to eat as opposed to fruit juices for example.

Also keep in mind that your body does in fact still need some carbohydrates, so don’t eliminate foods high in carbohydrates completely from your diet.