High-GI Foods vs. Low-GI Foods

Do you stop to think about every morsel of food you are putting in your mouth? Probably not! You are more than likely noticing how it makes you feel after you have eaten it, right? The enormous, moist, yummy blueberry muffin you just ate gave you a slight boost in energy but about 30 minutes to an hour later you feel like you could take a nap on your desk!

Just about everything we eat that contains carbohydrates has the ability to be converted to glucose (a type of sugar made in the live after digesting food). Glucose is then released into the blood stream and sent to the body’s cells to be used as energy. If the glucose isn’t converted into energy it is then sent and stored in the muscles and fat cells for later use.

The hormone, insulin, acts as the catalyst for taking the glucose where it needs to be. If the glucose is release slowly, only moderate levels of insulin are excreted which allows the body to “think” about where the glucose is needed most and thus sends it there. If, however, glucose is released quickly and in large amounts (as when eating foods containing refined sugars or those that are processed) the body panics and begins to release large amounts of insulin. Insulin then takes the glucose directly to the fat cells to be stored where it can do no harm to the body. If this process happens too often insulin starts to become resistant to taking the glucose to where it needs to go.

Effects of insulin resistance:

  • weight gain
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cell damage resulting in clogged arteries and thus heart disease
  • increased signs of aging
  • and a host of other degenerative diseases

Characteristics of High-glycemic foods:

  • Quickly digested, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Provide short bursts of energy, quickly followed by hunger and a roller-coaster pattern of overeating
  • Promote excess insulin secretion, increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer as well as a host of other health problems

Characteristics of Low-glycemic foods:

  • Slowly digested, allowing for a gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin
  • Provides slow-release form of energy that sustains you between meals and promotes a healthy body weight
  • Protect body from the harmful effects of too much insulin

Baby step for the week: take an inventory of what you’re eating, how it’s making you feel immediately after eating and about an 30 minutes to an hour later. Keep a pad of paper handy (or your smartphone!) and make a note of those foods that give you that “high” feeling only to be led by a crash…those are your high glycemic foods. Let’s start there for this week!

Habits can take a lifetime to form…but they can be broken!


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