What's GI got to do with it?
Gone are the days when the mention of GI got a girl’s heart racing. Now, most of us are aware that GI has more to do with diets than handsome American soldiers.
If GI is something you’ve heard of, but are not quite sure about, then check out our 10-Point Guide to help you understand what it is and how it may help you and your health.
- GI stands for Glycaemic Index. This is a scale from 0 to 100, and represents a measure of the speed with which a carbohydrate food is digested and raises the levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood.
- Once eaten, some carbohydrates are digested very rapidly, and then quickly increase levels of blood sugar. These are known as ‘high GI’ carbohydrates and have a GI number of 70 plus. Good examples of these include croissants, cakes and biscuits. Most high GI foods, like these examples, are made from refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar and are may not be especially good for vitamins and minerals.
- Other carbohydrates are digested slowly once eaten. These raise blood sugar levels gradually and steadily after eating, giving a slow release of energy to your body. Low GI foods have a GI index of less than 55 and include porridge oats, pasta, sourdough bread and sweet potatoes.
- Unlike many contemporary diets, which appear on best-seller lists, the effects of eating in a low GI way has been well researched by scientists and they have discovered several potential benefits.
- Because low GI ‘carbs’ give us a steady supply of energy, they seem to help to keep us feeling fuller for longer. Having a bowl of muesli made with oats or a bowl of porridge at breakfast for example is likely to prevent mid-morning hunger pangs, whereas a breakfast of a croissant with jam is quite likely to leave you feeling peckish an hour or so later. Over time, including low GI carbs at each meal could then help you to eat fewer calories without consciously ‘going on a diet’.