The GI Index Explained

Before you start reading this please let me first explain that I can’t take the credit for writing this as I have copied it almost word for word from the monthly Australian Fitness Network magazine.

GI stands for “Glycaemic index” where “Glycaemic” is simply the scientific word for glucose (sugar) in the blood. All of the carbohydrates we eat, including starch & sugars ultimately end up as glucose through digestion & metabolism. The glycaemic index, therefore, is a ranking of foods based on how fast those foods hit the bloodstream.

Hi GI foods lead to a large & rapid rise in blood glucose, whereas the same amount of carbohydrate from a low GI food gives a smaller and steadier rise in blood glucose. The interesting thing is that the GI is not related to whether the food is starchy or sugary – in fact many foods containing simple sugars have a far lower GI than many starchy foods. For example, the carbohydrate of an apple is almost entirely made up of simple sugars, but will have far less impact on your blood glucose than the same amount of carbohydrate eaten as white bread. Because of this, the GI has turned conventional thinking on its head thinking on its head and the advice to eat more complex carbohydrates is not warranted; instead, the recommendation has become to consume foods that are absorbed more slowly (i.e, low GI carbohydrates).

What are the benefits of eating a low GI diet?

1, Losing body fat & preventing fat gain is easier because of 2 things;

A, Low GI foods are filling and keep you satisfied between meals. This helps to eat less overall without feeling hungry.

B, A low GI diet reduces your day long insulin levels allowing your body to burn more fat & less muscle-the real key to long term weight control.

2, Those who eat a low GI diet have been found to be at less risk of a whole host of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease & cancers of the large bowel, breast, upper gastro-intestinal tract, pancreas and uterus.

3, You will feel and perform better on a low GI diet by providing the brains required fuel (glucose) while keeping blood levels on a more even keel.

What is a low GI diet?

A good guide to achieve a low GI diet is to include as many wholegrains, vegetables & fruits in your diet as possible. These are foods in as close to their natural state as possible & have been shown to have many health benefits due not just to their GI. Then be selective with the packet foods you buy, opting for low GI where possible.

To help get you started here is the quick GI guide.

Some common high GI foods.

  • White bread, bagels and crumpets.
  • Most processed breakfast cereals.
  • Puffed grains.
  • Most white rice.
  • Potatoes & potato products.
  • Crackers & rice cakes.
  • Many snack bars.
  • Most biscuits.

Good lower GI choices.

  • Multigrain, stone ground, sourdough or pita bread.
  • Traditional oats & muesli.
  • Lentils & beans.
  • Sushi (yum), basmati & doongara rice.
  • Sweet potato, corn, taro or yam.
  • Pasta & noodles.
  • Quinoa, bulgur or barely.
  • Most fruit.
  • Low fat milk & yoghurt.

* Vegetables (except potatoes), have only a small carbohydrate content and contain numerous disease-fighting nutrients. This means you can ignore their GI and eat them to your hearts content-quite literally.

Is it ever good to eat high GI foods?

Most of us will benefit from eating a low GI diet, but this does not mean you can never eat a high GI food. You can achieve a low GI diet by choosing a low GI food for at least 2 of your meals. If you do have a high GI food, take a smaller portion, or half the portion and mix it with a low GI food. This will give you a moderate GI meal (e.g., have a small portion of rice and mix with lentils, or have only 1 small potato & have a corn cob as well).

The exception to this is for those involved in regular strenuous exercise. In this case the major goal is to replenish energy stores and maximize recovery before the next training bout. High GI foods are the best choices here and should be consumed as soon as possible after exercise.

I can’t take the credit for writing this as I was looking up info regarding the GI I found this article sent to me with the Australian Fitness Networks monthly magazine, this article was written by Joanna McMillan-Price.

The GI scores of selected foods.


30 All bran

14 Yoghurt, low-fat fruit, artificial sweetener

33 Yoghurt, low-fat fruit, with sugar

41 Rolled oats (porridge)

40 Rice noodles, fresh boiled

38 Apple

14 Peanuts, roasted salted

29 Lentils

38 Spaghetti, white boiled

41 Snickers bar

29 Prunes, 6 pitted

37 Custard Trim, reduced fat

47 Ploughman’s whole grain bread

57 Peas, dried boiled

48 Baked beans

44 Burgeon fruit loaf

Medium- 55-70

58 Rye bread

52 Banana, raw

58 Mini-wheats, whole wheat

60 Just right cereal

69 Ryvita crackers

64 Raisins

57 Potato crisps, plain salted

67 Pancakes, shake & mix

68 Crumpet

56 Doongara rice, white

68 Gnocchi

62 Mars bar

65 Nutrigrain cereal

59 Pastry

High- >70

77 Wholemeal bread

80 Wonderwhite bread

99 Roll-ups, processed fruit snack

80 Rice cakes, white

73 Sultana bran cereal

91 Mashed potato, Pontiac

80 Calrose rice, white boiled

74 Bran flakes cereal

80 Jelly beans

85 Pikelets, Golden brand

72 Popcorn, Plain microwaved

80 Pretzels, Oven baked

56 Puffed crisp bread

76 Waffles

87 Lamingtons

77 K-time breakfast bar

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