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How to Understand the Glycemic Index

When you’re trying to lose weight or just trying to stay healthy, you start noticing something called the glycemic index. The glycemic index sounds complicated and can be complicated, but the basic idea to understand is that it measures how quickly blood sugar (glucose) levels rise after eating specific foods.

Originally developed by a doctor to determine foods for diabetics, the glycemic index has become a useful tool for many diet plans. The number that is assigned to foods indicates how quickly they get blood sugar levels to rise after consumption. Foods that have a high glycemic index raise blood sugar levels quickly while foods that are low on the glycemic index are release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream.

Foods that are low on the glycemic index are below 40 and include beans, peanuts, fish, whole grains, sweet fruits, and most vegetables. Food that has a high GI, above 70, include white bread, white rice, candy bars, bagels, potatoes, and pretzels.

It’s not just people with diabetes that benefit from understanding the glycemic index. Many diets, like the South Beach Diet, rely on low glycemic foods. Low glycemic foods break down slowly in your body so that you feel more satisfied for a longer period.

The glycemic index is designed to help you choose foods that will help to you lose weight and prevent diabetes. The glycemic index is also responsible for the newish focus on “good carbs” and “bad carbs.” Good carbs are low on the index, while, bad carbs are high.

It’s important to keep in minds that some foods are deceptive. For example, some candy bars, pizza and other junk foods may be considered low on the glycemic index but they should still be avoided because they are unhealthy. By mixing common sense with the glycemic index, you can eat healthfully.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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