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How to Use the Glycemic Index to Manage Your Diet

October 8th, 2013 Healthy Living

There are many factors to consider these days when maintaining your diet. The glycemic index can be useful for several reasons, though there is no magic bullet when it comes to dieting.

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale for ranking carbohydrates based on their effects on blood sugar levels. The scale runs from 0 to 100, with low-GI foods closer to 0, such as peanuts and most beans, and high-GI foods, such as white rice and most candies, closer to 100. According to the University of Sydney, high-GI foods are digested more quickly than low-GI foods and can produce spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, unlike their more gradually digested counterparts. The University also claims that low-GI foods are proven to provide health benefits.

One benefit is that in comparison to high-GI foods, those with a low GI are thought to be better for satisfying hunger, according to WebMD. This means that when you eat low-GI foods, the feeling of being full will last longer, leaving you less inclined to consume more calories. To use this aspect of low-GI foods to manage your diet, consider eating them with meals or as snacks to curb your appetite and reduce the temptation to overeat. Since high-GI foods are said to be digested much faster, they can leave you feeling hungrier sooner, which can lead to eating more calories in a shorter time.

WebMD also notes that low-GI foods are often healthier and more nutrient-rich, which makes them preferable to high-GI foods in many cases. However, as the Mayo Clinic notes, low-GI foods aren't always better than high-GI foods, since there are other factors that determine whether a food is healthy or not, such as what else you eat with the food and how it is prepared. To make healthier choices using the GI, in addition to checking whether your food is low or high-GI consider whether it is healthy overall, how much it is processed, and related details.

The glycemic index can be a useful too when managing your diet when used carefully and with an awareness of the needs of your own body.