GI is a way to measure how fast carbohydrates from different foods are absorbed in the body. To compare how blood sugar is affected by foods with different carbohydrate content, the term glycemic load (GL) is used.
What is GI - Glycemic Index?
GI is when you measure in a standardized manner how fast and for how long your blood sugar level is affected after eating a particular food compared with white bread or glucose. You usually talk about "high" and "low" foods. A high GI means that blood sugar rises quickly, which means that you need to eat more often.
A slow uptake of carbohydrates leads to a slower blood sugar increase. It helps keep blood sugar at an even level between meals and to healthier fat metabolism and blood fat levels.
How fast the carbohydrates are absorbed in the body depends how they are built
in whatever form they are in the food, whole grains or ground to flour, ff they have been heat-treated, eat cooked or raw. Soft drinks, juice, sweets, white bread and pastries quickly affect blood sugar. They have high GI.
Pasta and rice with a large proportion of whole grains, or pasta and noodles from beans are examples of foods that give a slow and prolonged increase in blood sugar. These foods have low GI.
GI is relevant for some foods that contain high carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals. GI can really only be used to compare the absorption of carbohydrates between different foods within the same food group.
What is GL, Glycemic load?
Another term, which is sometimes more relevant than GI, is glycemic load, GL, glycemic load.
GL takes into account the size of a normal portion of different foods and how the blood sugar response is affected. This is thus a way to compare GI of different foods with different carbohydrate content. GI for potatoes is higher than for pasta, while GL for potatoes is lower. This is because potatoes contain less carbohydrates per normal portion than pasta. The term GL can therefore often be better to use in practice.
Is it worthwhile to follow low-GI
There is insufficient evidence to include GI or GL in recommendations on what food one should eat to feel good. But by eating more fibers, whole grain rice, legumes, soybeans, pulses, fruits and vegetables, you are usually already eating many low-GI foods as a side benefit.
By also cutting down on soda and juice, and avoiding sweet foods and snacks like candy, ice cream, cookies and other sweets you can reduce the rapid rise in blood sugar and avoid high-GI foods.