The Many Benefits of the Glycemic Index

| Sep 1, 2001

The glycemic index (GI) may not be a leading economic indicator, but it is a leading diabetes indicator. Knowing whether the GI of a food is high or low can be a great aid in the quest for control.

Foods with a lower GI keep your blood sugar from spiking after eating. When you eat low-GI foods, the blood sugar rises slowly and only a little before it returns to normal. This can assist you in losing weight, controlling blood sugars, avoiding heart disease and achieving peak athletic performance.

An Impressive Array of Benefits, but What are the Details?

A great information resource for the GI is "The Glucose Revolution—The Authoritative Guide to The Glycemic Index." Written by the original researchers of the GI who compiled this data through 20 years of study, it was published in 1999 and has sold more than half a million copies in 10 countries.

This book lets you easily put this new way of eating into play. The GI ranks carbohydrate foods on a scale from 0 to 100. The ranking discloses how likely a carbohydrate is to raise your blood-sugar level after you eat it. Foods with a GI of 55 or less are preferred for better after-meal readings, while those closer to 100 are best for raising a low blood sugar. The index uses glucose with a ranking of 100, which is identical to "blood sugar" as its base.

"The Glucose Revolution" has a wealth of information. It contains 14 pages on common foods and where they rank on the GI, the largest list of GI values ever published in a book. It also provides the principles behind the GI by explaining the factors that influence the GI of a food. For example, the acidity of a food is a factor because acidity slows down gastric emptying, thereby slowing the rate of digestion.

70 Recipes, 44 Meals

"The Glucose Revolution" contains 70 recipes of common foods that are low GI and shows how to lower the GI of any recipe you have. With this model and the factors that lower the GI, you can create meals with a lower GI because you are taught what to add to and subtract from the foods you choose.

A special feature of the book is a variety of meals:

  • 10 low-fat, low GI breakfasts
  • Six low GI cereals
  • 10 low GI lunches on the go
  • 10 low GI main meals in minutes
  • Eight low GI snacks and desserts

Get the Whole Picture

The GI won't do it all for you. Problems arise when people try to use the GI food list to choose what to eat and don't consider the quantity of carbs they are eating. The GI comes into play only after the number of carbs in foods has been counted and the percentage of the diet that is carbs has been determined—the book suggests 50 percent. The GI has no effect on the number of carbs in foods or how you count them. GI doesn't replace the need for a healthy diet, or the need to consider total calories and percentages of carbs, fats, and proteins in the diet

For greater assistance in using the GI, the authors have also written two other books that carry this information further. The first is a small handbook, "The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to the Top 100 Low Glycemic Foods"— a handy reference you can carry with you. In addition, "The Glucose Revolution Life Plan," published this year, shows how to make the GI the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. As well as presenting an updated table of GI values, it presents the benefits of using omega-3 fats and Mediterranean- and Asian-style cooking. Fifty new low GI recipes are featured.

Ruth Roberts and John Walsh are owners and directors of The Diabetes Mall. All of these books are available at 20- to 25-percent discount from The Diabetes Mall at (800) 988-4772 or

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Categories: Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Diets, Food, Glycemic Index & Carb Counting, Losing weight, Low Calorie & Low Fat, Low Carb, Nutrition Advice

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