You may have heard the term “glycemic index” used in connection with weight loss pills, meal systems and other diet products. But what is it? And what does it have to do with a weight management program?
The glycemic index (GI) is a classification system for carbohydrates that ranks foods based on their effects on blood sugar levels. For this reason, many diabetics are quite familiar with the GI and use it to help determine what foods they can and can’t consume.
Foods ranked with a GI number greater than 70 have a high impact on blood sugar levels, and include doughnuts, white bread, potato chips and pretzels. These foods can be detrimental to dieting efforts because they cause a quick spike and crash in blood sugar levels and do not offer a sustained feeling of satiety. However, high GI foods may be beneficial for those looking to replenish carbohydrates after strenuous exercise.
Foods on the other end of the GI spectrum, ranked 55 and under, include whole-grain bread, low-fat yogurt, cherries, sweet potatoes and peanuts. These low GI foods digest slowly and can help with weight management efforts by making you feel fuller longer, leading you to eat less. Even adding just one of these foods to your meal will lower the glycemic index of the entire meal. Incorporating low GI foods into your diet can also support healthy energy levels and mood.