What is Glycemic Index (GI)?

What is Glycemic Index (GI)?

Every diet or nutritional guide out there will always speak to the importance of consuming the right amounts of different foods, both macro and micronutrients. More specifically, you may have heard that there exist different types of carbohydrates, more specifically classed as either high and low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates. By now, you along with many other fitness goers might find yourself asking; What is the Glycemic Index? What does this mean for me? How can I use this to reach my fitness goals?

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food's effect on a person's blood sugar level. Effectively, it's a simple measure of how fast a carbohydrate is digested and then converted into glucose, which is sent into the bloodstream as blood sugar. A food that is said to have a high GI (high glycemic index) is most likely to be a simple carbohydrate, which are digested rapidly and quickly converted into glucose and sent into the bloodstream as blood sugar. Examples of foods with a high GI include Glucose, Dextrose or other simple carbohydrates like White Bread, White potato, White rice, most lollies and other sugars. Alternatively, foods that have a low GI (low glycemic index) will be digested and uptake into the bloodstream is at a much slower rate. Examples of low GI foods include most vegetables, beans (black, pinto kidney), brown rice, wholegrain bread, quinoa, sweet potatoes and most fruits.

What this means is that consuming low GI foods results in a minimal effect on blood glucose levels, and will not elicit a corresponding insulin response. Foods with a high GI rate however, will cause an insulin spike, whereby your body will consequentially secrete the hormone insulin from the pancreas into your bloodstream, to help control and remove the high concentrations of blood sugar by enhancing the glycogen uptake in cells. High levels of blood sugar can lead to hypoglycemia and if ongoing, may lead to Diabetic symptoms. To learn more about insulin and how to use it to your advantage, click HERE!

The general rule of thumb when selecting what to consume throughout the day is to primarily opt for low GI carbohydrates. This will ensure you are able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep your insulin response minimal, while avoiding spikes and dips in your energy levels. If you consume high GI carbohydrates at a time when your body's existing glycogen stores are sufficient, the rapid influx of glycogen can lead to increased risk of weight gain. There is a time when you do want to intake high GI carbohydrates and induce an insulin response, and this is post workout. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone and at this time, it will assist in commencing the muscle recovery muscle process by transporting ingested glucose and other amino acids typically sourced from a Whey Protein Shake into muscle cells, resulting in accelerated recovery, growth and strength gains.

We recommend supplementing with a high glycemic simple carbohydrate such as Creation Supplements DextroPURE, taken in conjunction with a fast digesting whey protein isolate such as Core Nutritionals ISO for your post workout window. For low GI supplementation, we recommend the use of MTS Nutrition Carb10 during training or throughout the day. Additionally, view our range of delicious recipes using low GI foods to help you reach your fitness goals. 

Related: Why are Carbohydrates Important Post-Workout?
Related: Recipe: Baked Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes


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