The Glycemic Index: What's the Big Deal?
The Glycemic Index ranks foods on how they affect the blood glucose levels. It measures the amount of increase in your blood glucose levels two to three hours after eating.
The Glycemic Index shows how quickly a single food will turn into blood glucose on a scale of 100. Pure glucose is given a value of 100.
The Glycemic Index was created with the diabetic in mind.
You see, insulin spikes can be deadly to the diabetic. This fueled the need to develop a chart showing the insulin effects of certain foods. Clearly diabetics don't want large spikes in insulin when preparing meals.
Before 1981, scientists believed that avoiding table sugar was the goal as it raised the glucose levels quickly. Current studies show that some foods actually have a higher blood glucose level than table sugars!While it's still a good idea to avoid empty sugar calories there's many other foods that can spike the blood glucose levels.
Clearly not all foods are the same and they don't have the same insulin effects on the body. Today it's still favored to have a diet high in carbs and fibers and to avoid sugars.
Now get this: A baked potato ranks higher on the Glycemic Index than table sugar at 64! While some pastas rank lower than a baked potato and even table sugars.
But that's not all...
You can see it's value to a diabetic but using the Glycemic Index as a primary tool for choosing food can create problems.
As you know, the Glycemix Index ranks how a single food breaks down in your body and is convered to blood glucose after eating. But if you follow the rules of performance nutrition, you should be eating a 'complete' meal:
Not a single food by itself.
This changes the Glycemix Index of that meal!Second...
When you consume proteins with carbohydrates, it can greatly lower the blood glucose effects of that food. A baked potato's score 85 on the Glycemic Index when combined with a protein is much lower.
There are flaws of the Glycemic Index like:
In any event, the Glycemic Index is useful to people with certain dietary needs. But it's service to the bodybuilder is vague. There's no way that refined pasta is better for you than nature's own potato.
Basing your choices only on the Glycemic Index can lead to over consumption of high calorie foods. And with the limited data and varied testing results, your own reactions to a particular food may vary greatly.
Needless to say...
If you follow the rules of performance nutrition and eat complete meals your goals will be much better served.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marc David is a bodybuilder and author of the, Beginner's Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding. Visit JustAskMarc to learn more about the glycemic index.