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Nutrition Series: Volume 2, Article 2 The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index

As we discussed in our last article it is important to include more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The benefits of including this are increased energy levels, weight/fat loss, improved body composition, and improved health markers. 

To gain a deeper understanding we must discuss the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly and significantly a given food can raise our blood sugar. 

Low Glycemic Foods

In general, the less processed a food is, the more complex its carbohydrate molecules are. The more complex the carbohydrate is, the longer it will take to digest and will be lower on the glycemic index. 

High Glycemic Foods 

The less healthy simple carbs (like table sugar) are digested and absorbed quickly and are higher on the glycemic index. 

Low glycemic foods will affect the blood sugar levels slowly and high glycemic foods will affect blood sugar levels quickly. When blood sugar levels go up, insulin is released to regulate blood sugar levels. 

When this happens too often the receptors for releasing insulin may become damaged. When they become damaged too much insulin can be released into the bloodstream and too much insulin may lead to hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the bloodstream). This can lead to a host of problems such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more chronic illnesses. 

High glycemic foods include sugar, candy, breakfast cereal, chips, bagels. Low glycemic foods include whole foods like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.

There’s more…

It is important to consider a few things. 

  1. We don’t always eat carbohydrates by themselves. The amount of protein and fats you include in your meal will change the response that carbohydrate has on the glycemic index. This is why it is always important to have a balanced meal of all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) 
  2. Meal timing can affect how quickly a food is converted to glucose (sugar). Factors include time of day and activity.
  3. Types of sugar can affect the glycemic index score. For example, fructose will not immediately raise blood sugar levels, but this does not make the food healthier. 

We want to reiterate that if your goal is weight/fat loss and improved health, what has worked best for our clients is to avoid simple carbs such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and foods with preservatives. This does not mean that you should avoid all carbohydrates. The benefits of including more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are increased energy levels, weight/fat loss, improved body composition, and improved health markers.

In addition to this we recommend a diet that is balanced with whole foods, lean/healthy protein sources, and healthy sources of fats. If you want to learn more about balanced meals please visit our nutrition blog and read our articles on protein, and/or watch our lectures on nutrition topics. 

-Coach Dan


Please remember that everyone is different. Our goal is to help you improve the quality of your life. If you want more information or are feeling stuck, please visit our contact page and ask us. We’re happy to help!


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