The Glycemic Index is the system used to rate how quickly a food raises your blood sugar level after being eaten.

As carbohydrates are digested they raise your blood sugar. The speed varies from one food to another.

sugar
Simple sugar has a glycemic index of 100

High and low Glycemic Index

Foods that raise your blood sugar quickly and to a greater degree are given a high glycemic Index number and those that release sugar into the blood stream slowly are given a low number.

For example, pure cane sugar has the a glycemic index of 100. This is as high as it can be because it raises your blood sugar faster and higher than any other thing you could eat.

Every cell in your body needs energy to function and most get their energy from glucose.

Your body maintains a steady level of glucose in your blood so it is available whenever a cell needs it. When sugar levels are low, you become hungry and crave foods that have a high glycemic index because these foods raise your blood sugar quickly.

If your blood sugar is high, your body produces insulin which converts your blood sugar into fat. The problem occurs when you eat a food with a high glycemic index and your blood sugar quickly raises.

In response you produce insulin which turns the sugar into fat. Because the blood sugar was rising quickly, you over secret insulin to stop it and that causes your blood sugar to become too low. When that happens you crave foods with a high glycemic index because you intuitively know these will satisfy your need for sugar (craving).

Low GI Foods (55 or less)

  • 100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
  • Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli
  • Pasta, converted rice, barley, bulgar
  • Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils
  • Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots

Medium GI (56-69)

  • Whole wheat, rye and pita bread
  • Quick oats
  • Brown, wild or basmati rice, couscous

High GI (70 or more)

  • White bread or bagel
  • Corn flakes, puffed rice, bran flakes, instant oatmeal
  • Shortgrain white rice, rice pasta, macaroni and cheese from mix
  • Russet potato, pumpkin
  • Pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, saltine crackers
  • Melons and pineapple

What is a good Glycemic index number

Generally, the lower the Glycemic index of the food the better. As already explained foods with lower gylcemic index are less stressful for the body. See below glycemic index chart for more information.

glycemic index
Glycemic index chart; image source: lowglycemiccertification.com

Glycemic index – Glycemic Index Food List

FOOD Glycemic index (glucose = 100) Serving size (grams) Glycemic load per serving
BAKERY PRODUCTS AND BREADS      
Banana cake, made with sugar 47 60 14
Banana cake, made without sugar 55 60 12
Sponge cake, plain 46 63 17
Vanilla cake made from packet mix with vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker) 42 111 24
Apple, made with sugar 44 60 13
Apple, made without sugar 48 60 9
Waffles, Aunt Jemima (Quaker Oats) 76 35 10
Bagel, white, frozen 72 70 25
Baguette, white, plain 95 30 15
Coarse barley bread, 75-80% kernels, average 34 30 7
Hamburger bun 61 30 9
Kaiser roll 73 30 12
Pumpernickel bread 56 30 7
50% cracked wheat kernel bread 58 30 12
White wheat flour bread 71 30 10
Wonder™ bread, average 73 30 10
Whole wheat bread, average 71 30 9
100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens) 51 30 7
Pita bread, white 68 30 10
Corn tortilla 52 50 12
Wheat tortilla 30 50 8
BEVERAGES      
Coca Cola®, average 63 250 mL 16
Fanta®, orange soft drink 68 250 mL 23
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose drink) 95±10 250 mL 40
Apple juice, unsweetened, average 44 250 mL 30
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®) 68 250 mL 24
Gatorade 78 250 mL 12
Orange juice, unsweetened 50 250 mL 12
Tomato juice, canned 38 250 mL 4
BREAKFAST CEREALS AND RELATED PRODUCTS      
All-Bran™, average 55 30 12
Coco Pops™, average 77 30 20
Cornflakes™, average 93 30 23
Cream of Wheat™ (Nabisco) 66 250 17
Cream of Wheat™, Instant (Nabisco) 74 250 22
Grapenuts™, average 75 30 16
Muesli, average 66 30 16
Oatmeal, average 55 250 13
Instant oatmeal, average 83 250 30
Puffed wheat, average 80 30 17
Raisin Bran™ (Kellogg’s) 61 30 12
Special K™ (Kellogg’s) 69 30 14
GRAINS      
Pearled barley, average 28 150 12
Sweet corn on the cob, average 60 150 20
Couscous, average 65 150 9
Quinoa 53 150 13
White rice, average 89 150 43
Quick cooking white basmati 67 150 28
Brown rice, average 50 150 16
Converted, white rice (Uncle Ben’s®) 38 150 14
Whole wheat kernels, average 30 50 11
Bulgur, average 48 150 12
COOKIES AND CRACKERS      
Graham crackers 74 25 14
Vanilla wafers 77 25 14
Shortbread 64 25 10
Rice cakes, average 82 25 17
Rye crisps, average 64 25 11
Soda crackers 74 25 12
DAIRY PRODUCTS AND ALTERNATIVES      
Ice cream, regular 57 50 6
Ice cream, premium 38 50 3
Milk, full fat 41 250mL 5
Milk, skim 32 250 mL 4
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average 33 200 11
FRUITS      
Apple, average 39 120 6
Banana, ripe 62 120 16
Dates, dried 42 60 18
Grapefruit 25 120 3
Grapes, average 59 120 11
Orange, average 40 120 4
Peach, average 42 120 5
Peach, canned in light syrup 40 120 5
Pear, average 38 120 4
Pear, canned in pear juice 43 120 5
Prunes, pitted 29 60 10
Raisins 64 60 28
Watermelon 72 120 4
BEANS AND NUTS      
Baked beans, average 40 150 6
Blackeye peas, average 33 150 10
Black beans 30 150 7
Chickpeas, average 10 150 3
Chickpeas, canned in brine 38 150 9
Navy beans, average 31 150 9
Kidney beans, average 29 150 7
Lentils, average 29 150 5
Soy beans, average 15 150 1
Cashews, salted 27 50 3
Peanuts, average 7 50 0
PASTA and NOODLES      
Fettucini, average 32 180 15
Macaroni, average 47 180 23
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) 64 180 32
Spaghetti, white, boiled, average 46 180 22
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 min, average 58 180 26
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average 42 180 17
SNACK FOODS      
Corn chips, plain, salted, average 42 50 11
Fruit Roll-Ups® 99 30 24
M & M’s®, peanut 33 30 6
Microwave popcorn, plain, average 55 20 6
Potato chips, average 51 50 12
Pretzels, oven-baked 83 30 16
Snickers Bar® 51 60 18
VEGETABLES      
Green peas, average 51 80 4
Carrots, average 35 80 2
Parsnips 52 80 4
Baked russet potato, average 111 150 33
Boiled white potato, average 82 150 21
Instant mashed potato, average 87 150 17
Sweet potato, average 70 150 22
Yam, average 54 150 20
MISCELLANEOUS      
Hummus (chickpea salad dip) 6 30 0
Chicken nuggets, frozen, reheated in microwave oven 5 min 46 100 7
Pizza, plain baked dough, served with parmesan cheese and tomato sauce 80 100 22
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut) 36 100 9
Honey, average 61 25 12

Sugar spikes

That spikes your sugar again and the cycle repeats itself. You go back and forth between high sugar with fat production, and low sugar with feelings of exhaustion, hunger, and cravings.

When you eat foods that have a high glycemic index you go back and forth between high and low blood sugar levels.

The cycle requires your pancreas to produce insulin and over time it becomes exhausted and your insulin becomes less effective. Your pancreas actually has to produce more insulin to get the same effect. This is the beginning of diabetes.

There are also studies that associate diets that contain foods with a high glycemic index to cancer, heart disease, eye conditions, and various other avoidable health issues.

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