Understanding how your body digests and utilizes carbohydrates is important for everyone’s nutritional goals. Making the right carbohydrate choices can help you lose weight, gain muscle, or excel at a sport. The term “Glycemic Index” or “GI” is used to describe different carbohydrate sources. GI takes all of the carbohydrate containing foods and breaks them down into one number. What does that number mean? Let's talk about what determines a food’s GI and how you can use that information to your advantage.
The glycemic index is a way to describe how food is going to affect your blood sugar. It is based on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the faster the carbohydrates enter your system and raise your blood sugar. When our blood sugar rises too quickly, our body reacts by releasing the hormone insulin. This is the message that makes the body begin to store that excess sugar, typically by converting and storing it as fat. Eating high GI foods can provide you with a quick burst of energy, but if weight loss is your goal you should be sticking to the lower GI foods.
The scale for the glycemic index can be broken down into three categories. 55 or less are considered low GI foods, 56-69 medium, and 70 or more are high. Some foods can simply be placed into a category, but other foods change based on how they are prepared or cooked. For example, the GI of potatoes is increased by 28% if they are boiled. The ripeness of fruit changes it’s GI; for example, bananas can see a 10% increase depending on how overripe it is. Including fat or protein with a meal can affect the GI of foods as well. This is because the body needs to break down the fat, protein, and carbs at the same time which slows everything down.
If you are interested in modifying your diet to decrease high glycemic index foods, the best place to start is reducing processed foods. Start with small changes that can be easy to implement into daily life. Some ideas could be swapping out chips with veggies or choosing a whole grain bread for your sandwich at lunch. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, your Rochester, NY chiropractors, our nutrition program can help with any food modifications you wish to implement. Schedule a free consultation with our nutritionist and see how we can help you with your nutrition goals.