The way in which carbohydrate foods are rated according to the effect they have on glucose levels in the blood is called glycemic index. This is more generally known as GI.
High GI foods are rapidly absorbed and bring on a swift rise in blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Low GI foods, work in the opposite way by breaking down in a more gradual manner and stabilizing blood glucose levels. This is important as it helps to avoid the seesaw effect, which may lead to a constant hunger, as well as mood and energy swings. Because foods low on the GI take longer to be digested they release energy into the bloodstream at a slower and steadier rate and this supply of energy helps to prolong that “full” feeling. We all know that if we feel satisfied for longer amounts of time, we are less likely to snack in between meals.
On the other hand, however, foods high on the GI can promote wildly variable blood sugar levels, which can cause the pancreas to over-produce insulin and this, in turn can lead to illnesses like Syndrome X, hypoglycemia, and type II diabetes. Research has also shown that there is evidence to suggest foods lower on the GI can help to improve the good cholesterol levels and this is know to lessen the risk of heart disease.
The majority of low GI diets don’t insist you only eat low GI foods, but they do encourage you to add more foods with a low GI as part of your healthy eating regime. By simply including a low GI food in your meal, it will have the effect of lowering the glycemic index for the complete meal. People who have an active lifestyle should use an equal balance of low and high GI foods to ensure they have the necessary energy to carry out their exercise
High glycemic index foods include many carbohydrates such as baked goods, bread, cereals, pasta, and rice whereas low glycemic index foods are more about fruits, legumes vegetables, and whole grains. Nonetheless there are differences within these broad categories. For instance, both bananas and potatoes would be considered to have a mid ranging GI. How food is processed and cooked also has an influence on the GI levels. Instant oatmeal has a higher GI than traditional rolled oats because the processing lets the starch be more effortlessly exposed to digestive enzymes.
While heightening the amount of low GI foods in your diet can bring on weight loss and improve your general health and well-being this is not the only thing that should be taken into consideration. An example of this is chocolate which is a low GI food but full of energy with little nutrients so it is not going to help anyone lose weight. However, on the whole, GI is a useful tool for identifying foods which have low levels of saturated fat and are rich in nutrients.