Niagara Gazette

Features

August 21, 2013

FIT FOR LIFE: Glycemic index: useful or useless?

Niagara Gazette — People who pay attention to conversations about diet these days may often be under the belief that complex carbohydrates break down in our bodies slower than simple carbs, providing more nourishment and keeping us feeling full longer.

So, people who want to eat healthy should eat complex carbs and everything is good, right? Not so fast.

To this day, many fitness enthusiasts, body-builders, figure competitors and fans of pseudo-science stake everything on a foods glycemic index score, but that data is not perfect, consistent or fail-proof.

If we dig (great Incubus song) a little bit deeper, we have several indexes to refer to, and we can start with the gylcemic index, which gives insight as to how carbs impact blood glucose (sugar) levels, but can also consider the insulin index and the satiety index.

Let’s look at the glycemic index first.

The following foods are complex carbs with low to moderate ratings on the glycemic index: kidney beans, 28, rye bread, 50, brown rice, 55, old-fashioned oatmeal, 58, and sweet corn, 60.

Complex carbs with higher ratings on the glycemic index include whole-wheat bread, 70, white bread, 73, Cheerios, 74, and white rice, 92.

However, with regards to the insulin index, protein-rich foods such as baked beans and refined carbs (pastries, etc.) caused insulin responses that were higher than their glycemic index might suggest. 

The satiety index of foods is also a ranking system, examining a food’s ability to satisfy hunger. The higher the ranking, the more satisfying the food.

The amount of fiber, protein and water within the food are typically the general agents of satiety. Some low-satiety food are: croissant 47, cake 65, ice cream 96, French fries, 116, Special K, 116.

Higher satiety food include: grain-bread 154, popcorn, 154, grapes 162, baked beans, 168, beef, 176, apples, 197, potatoes 323.

As you can see, there are some surprises as some foods score low on the glycemic index but have a higher satiety score.

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