What to know about the Glycemic Index

Nutritionist Gayle Reichler helps you determine the glycemic index.  What you eat before bedtime or even as a late night snack can be guided by this trusted source.  Will it be a banana, granola or some ice cream?  There may be some surprises, and then again, maybe not.


When you want to feel sleepy and tired, eating carbohydrates is recommended.  Carbohydrates fall into two groups: simple, those that taste sweet to our tongue (including sugar, honey and maple syrup) and complex (including whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes). It is also important, at least in terms of how we will feel after eating a certain carbohydrate, is the understanding of how rapidly a particular carbohydrate will get metabolized into sugar and impact blood sugar (glucose) levels. Sugars are the body's source of energy for most activities. When we have high sugar levels we feel like we have energy, but when our blood sugar level drops, we feel like we are tired.

There is an index you can use to determine how a food will affect your blood sugar, it is called The Glycemic Index (GI) and the Glycemic Load (GL). These charts are numerical scales used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level.  The Glycemic Index looks at an individual food, while the Glycemic Load looks at a food with other foods together interpreting how it digests in your system. A food with a low GI or GL will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI or GL may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level.

By choosing your carbohydrates wisely, you can help yourself control your blood sugar levels and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Foods ranked by the glycemic index are given scores:

  • High: 70 and up. Examples include instant white rice, brown rice, plain white bread, white skinless baked potato, boiled red potatoes with skin and watermelon.
  • Medium: 56 to 69. Examples include sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins and certain types of ice cream.
  • Low: 55 and under. Examples include raw carrots, peanuts, raw apple, grapefruit, peas, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils.

 

Looking for a good nighttime snack? It is also advisable for you to eat the more simple grains before going to bed, such as a piece of bread or cereal, because these are easier to digest and they will not disrupt your sleep as much as more fibrous carbohydrates that take longer to digest. 

You can go to this site to refer to a chart of GI and GL .harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm