To Eat or Not To Eat
Many people are confused about what they should be eating and, conversely, what foods they should be avoiding. All humans vary slightly according to their genetic makeup and activity levels/lifestyle but in general it is safe to say that all people, great and small can benefit from and should follow a low-glycemic lifestyle. What is the Glycemic Index? The glycemic index or GI is a medicinal sounding word for the measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. The only time High GI foods should be consumed is during muscle recovery following an endurance race, in the middle of an endurance race where energy is needed quickly to keep one from “bonking,” when it would be disadvantageous to ask the body to “work” to breakdown food for energy, and in cases where a person is “hypoglycemic.”
The glycemic index uses a scale from 1-100 to measure the rate at which a carbohydrate enters your blood stream, where 100 is the measure of pure glucose (or white bread –go figure!) Generally speaking, foods with a GI rating of 1-55 are considered “low” on the GI scale, foods 55-69 are considered “moderate,” and 69-100 are considered “high GI.” Now that I’m comfortably planted on my soapbox, I’ll exclaim the importance of a low glycemic lifestyle, regardless if you live your life on your couch (or someone else’s couch, no one’s judging) or if your ride 100 miles on your bike each day and run a marathon each weekend. Why? The reason is because rapid entry of carbohydrates into the blood stream also causes rapid rise in the hormone insulin, which is necessary in specific amounts for the shuttling of glucose out of the blood stream and into the places our body needs it for survival (i.e.the brain and muscles). The problem is that our body doesn’t need nearly the amount of carbohydrates for survival that most of us consume, and once the brain and muscles are fed, excess insulin gets to work feeding your fat cells and puts you at greater risk for disease-states (more on this later).
Let’s tackle fat-storage first. Since you are always in either fat-storage mode or fat-burning mode, I’ll pose the question: which do you want to be in? Most people, I think, prefer to be in fat-burning mode. That’s why it’s important to keep insulin levels under control by keeping blood glucose levels under control. How do we do that? By following a diet rich in foods that are low glycemic and limited in foods that are high glycemic. Lean proteins and fat have no-negligible glycemic impact. Most fruits and veggies, nuts and legumes are “low GI.”
Whole grains and sweet potatoes are examples of “moderate GI foods.” Breakfast cereal, white rice, white bread, and white pastaare “high GI.” Adding protein, fiber and fat to any meal or snack lowers the glycemic index of that meal or snack because of the “mixed meal” effect which basicall ymeans that fat, fiber and protein mixed up with higher glycemic foods slows the rate of digestion of the high glycemic foods. The problem with thinking that simply adding protein, fiber and fat to the white bread, white rice and white pasta is that your body still has to process the glucose (and calories) present in those foods. AND those carbs can still be converted to fat if your body doesn’t have the immediate energy needed to burn those carbs. The benefit of a mixed-meal is that the carbs will enter your blood stream at a more controlled rate than if you had simply consumed the straight high GI carbs so you’re less likely to experience the blood sugar “rise and crash.” This “rise and crash” can lead to a false sense of hunger too soon (not to mention energy-crash/sleepiness) after eating the high GI carbs, thus leading to overeating. So it can be confusing.
Over the course of several blogs I will attempt to take the mystery and confusion out of this concept because it’s an important one. This is merely an introduction to the philosophy behind following a low-glycemic diet meant to hopefully inspire you to consider/reconsider what you are eating based on your goals to burn fat and to stay/become disease free. In my next entry I will tackle mixed meals and more specific examples of low-glycemic foods choices. I’ll also write about how to “rebound” or repair your blood sugar levels after a splurge. Hopefully, the take-home message here is that following a low-glycemic lifestyle is beneficial for: 1. Staying in fat-burning mode 2. Protecting your body from disease-states 3.Controling/stabilizing your energy levels and MOOD 4. Controlling your appetite.
Stay tuned for more information on eating for happiness and optimal energy. And please feel free to direct questions and comments to me here at Happiness Series & check out my site for more on the low-glycemic desserts I’ve created for you.
Happy eating! – Kerri
Filed Under: Blogs
About the Author: Kerri Gedert is a Food Scientist/Nutritional Food Product Designer who specializes in recreating traditionally decadent, indulgent (typically starch and sugar based) foods to be low in carbohydrates, gluten-free, sugar-free, high-in-fiber and protein, low-glycemic, comprehensively nutritiousand yes, delicious. Kerri currently resides in Denver, Colorado where she owns and runs Poparuba, her second of two companies she founded to create and market her gluten-free, low-carb, good-for-your pastry creations. Kerri also works as a Food Coach, helping people to understand food and their individual challenges with eating healthfully. Kerri’s goal is to educate, empower and inspire people to permanently change the way they think about, buy, prepare and consume food. Kerri is also a dedicated yogini and fitness fanatic. She is a true lover of food, wine, fitness and wellness, alike. Kerri believes food should be a source of happiness and energy. Kerri’s blog for Happiness Series, “Loving Life and… Food,” gives us great recipes, tips, and information about how to enjoy life, especially good food!