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How to Use the Glycemic Index (Part 2)

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Updated February 15, 2014

 

Added Benefits
Another plus to low-GI eating is your body retains more muscle than in low-fat diets. This is due to the fact that leveling out your blood sugar means your body will begin using stored fat more efficiently. This means even before you see a significant weight loss, you will probably find your clothes are fitting more loosely and you begin feeling a little trimmer, particularly in the tummy area.

What Ranks Foods on the GI?
The more quickly a carbohydrate is digested by your body, the higher its score on the Glycemic Index. The easiest foods for your body to break down are starches. This includes bread and potatoes, as well as junk foods like pretzels, cookies, pies, donuts, and potato chips.

The foods are highly processed and high in refined sugars -- a dead give away that a food ranks high on the GI. But not all starches are created equal: "Good" starches include whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes.

Refined carbohydrates such as breakfast cereals, bagels, and candy, are to be avoided. The more processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high GI rank. Foods consumed closer to their natural state (ie "whole foods") are on the lower end of the Index.

The Best Choices
There are many foods that rank so low on the Glycemic Index that they are considered "free". This is due to the fact that they do not have any effect on your body's glycemic load. You can eat as much of them as you like and you don't need to worry about eating them at a certain meal or with another food. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Scallions
  • Turnips
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Okra
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower

Pasta is OK!
Pasta in and of itself is not a high-GI food. Depending on how you cook it, the lower GI it has. You'll want to make your pasta al dente (still quite firm) to keep its GI rank at the optimal level.

What is My GI Goal?
Most people should keep their glycemic load to about 80. If you're pregnant, breast-feeding, or highly active, you'll need to raise it. Most people can maintain their weight at about 130 per day. Very active athletes can go as high as 150.

 

 

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