The foods that measure high on the Glycemic Index can set you up for cravings.
The Glycemic Index measures food on a scale from 1 to 100, depending on how fast it will raise your blood sugar levels.
The faster and higher the food makes your blood sugar go up, the higher its Glycemic Index number is.
This matters because when your blood sugar goes up, your body sends out hormones such as insulin to help remove it.
These hormones can cause a blood sugar “crash” that can make you feel tired or shaky a little after you eat it.
We’ve all been there!
Plus, it can also bring that “hangry” feeling. Which is a combination of hungry and anxious or angry, which makes you want to eat more and get your blood sugar level back up.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this!
This is a cycle that is difficult to break once your body gets used to it over time.
All those insulin surges become linked with insulin resistance, which means that your cells aren’t as receptive to insulin.
Insulin resistance is a significant precursor for type 2 diabetes and other health issues like heart disease.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes has increased by almost 300 percent since 1980, with more than 400 million people now having the disease.
This is a significant health issue, and pretty scary!
So, a good idea to eat foods that don’t cause big spikes in your blood sugar levels.
The Glycemic Index mostly applies to foods containing carbohydrates, but (like most things) it’s not that simple.
Your blood sugar doesn’t just respond to the number of carbohydrates or natural sugars in food.
The amount of fiber, fat, and protein in food also plays a role in slowing down the blood sugar response.
For example, corn flakes cereal has a glycemic index 81.
While an apple has a glycemic index of only 36.
The cereal is a processed food that’s basically a sugar delivery system.
It has very little fiber in it to slow down the impact on your blood sugar.
While the apple contains natural sugar, it also contains fiber that helps slow down how quickly it makes your blood sugar level rise. Fiber also helps to keep you feeling full.
Besides having health benefits, it also means that the apple can help you to avoid cravings later in the day.
There are a few things you need to know about the scale, though.
The Glycemic Index measures each food as if you were eating it on an empty stomach, and most of us don’t do that when we eat!
Instead, we eat a few different foods at the same time.
For example, suppose you were to eat white rice, which has a Glycemic Index of 87.
In that case, chances are you’d, be eating it with something else, like beef and broccoli – which have a GI index of 0 and 10, respectively.
The second issue is that your food is so much more than its impact on your blood sugar.
It also contains vitamins, minerals, and compounds your body needs.
For example, peanut M&Ms are highly processed but have a relatively low glycemic index of only 33.
Macaroni and cheese has an index of 64.
And, baked potatoes, which are all-natural and packed with vitamins and minerals, come in on the GI scale at 85.
Also, portion sizes still matter, and definitely count if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight.
So, consider the overall glycemic load of your meal.
By that, if you’re eating a food that you know has a high glycemic index – something high in carbs – balance it out by eating something with protein or healthy fat like the rice, beef, and broccoli, for example.
Or, if you’re eating a high glycemic food like grapes, which have a GI of 60, you can add some healthy fats, such as a handful of nuts, which will slow down the sugar surge.
In fact, this is where the old-fashioned square meal comes into play way before the glycemic index was ever invented.
Our grandparents and great grandparents naturally balanced out the meals they served with a protein, starchy carbohydrates, and vegetables.