The Glycemic Index (GI) was originally devised to help diabetics. The index is a ranking of carbohydrate foods which measures the rate at which the blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels rise when a particular food is eaten.
Pure glucose has a rating of 100 – so the nearer a food is to 100, the higher its Glycemic Index rating is.
This indicates how quickly the food is converted to blood sugar, and, how quickly the blood sugar levels will drop. Foods with a low GI rating will be absorbed more slowly, helping to keep blood sugar levels constant.
Traditional thinking has told us that complex carbohydrates like rice and potatoes were absorbed slowly, and that simple and refined carbohydrates, like candies and jams resulted in a sharp rise in blood sugar.
However recent research has indicated that this is not necessarily the case. There are more factors involved than just simple vs. complex or refined vs. natural.
Typical GI Diet
A typical low glycemic index diet is low in fat and high in carbohydrates — but specifically low-GI carbs. Often a simple change from high GI carbs, to low GI carbs may being about weight loss. It may also give the feeling of more energy, due to less blood sugar / insulin spikes during the day.
Oatmeal with raisins and skim milk.
Vegetable soup with sourdough bread.
Lean beef bolognese on wholemeal pasta.
Water, tea (skim milk), herbal teas.
Glycemic Index Food List
|LOW GI ( 55)||MEDIUM GI (55-70)||HIGH GI ( 70)|
Apple and apple juice
Bread (white and brown)
Pineapple, mango, melon
Crackers and crisp breads
What About Glycemic Load?
Glycemic Index alone does not provide enough information about the glycemic affect of a food. For example; carrots have a high GI, but you would have to eat boxes and boxes of them to have any pronounced affect on blood sugar. This is because the amount of carbohydrate in carrot is very small.
To calculate glycemic load (GL): Simply multiply the GI by the amount of carbohydrate and divide by 100.
For example; an 80g serve of carrot with a GI of 92 has 4.2g per serve. 92 X 4.2 / 100 = 3.9
Popular Low Glycemic Diets
|Glycemic Impact Diet||A newer diet implemented by eDiets – takes the best of the Zone and South Beach Diet. Very good diet.|
|Montignac Method||The original Low Glycemic Index Diet first made popular in 1986.|
|Glycemic Load Diet||Glycemic Index corrected for serving size is the Glycemic Load – the diet aims to produce healthy weight by maintaining a daily load under 500.|
|South Beach Diet||Carb choices are based around low-glycemic foods – although the diet begins with a very low carbohydrate phase.|
|NutriSystem||This portion-controlled program is based around low-glycemic foods.|
|Healthy Pancreas Diet||The Pancreatic Oath explains how eating the right foods can protect your pancreas and promote health, whereas when you eat unhealthy foods you are abusing your pancreas.|
|Sugar Solution||From Prevention magazine – a diet to correct blood sugar imbalances.|
|Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly||written by neurosurgeon Dr. Larry McCleary and is based on the concept that the calories people are consuming are bypassing their brains and being stored in fat cells.|
Books and Resources
A number of books have been written about the GI – with one of the biggest selling being The New Glucose Revolution. Rick Gallop’s The GI Diet is also very popular.
http://www.glycemicindex.com/ – A database providing GI index and GI load for a huge list of foods.
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Jenkins, D. J., Wolever, T. M., Taylor, R. H., Barker, H., Fielden, H., Baldwin, J. M., … Goff, D. V. (1981). Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 34(3), 362-366. link
- Wolever, T. M., Jenkins, D. J., Jenkins, A. L., Josse, R. G. (1991). The glycemic index: methodology and clinical implications. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 54(5), 846-854. link
- Brand-Miller, J., Hayne, S., Petocz, P., Colagiuri, S. (2003). Low–Glycemic Index Diets in the Management of Diabetes A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes care, 26(8), 2261-2267. link
Last Reviewed: January 21, 2018