The Glycemic Index: what you need to know

The Glycemic Index: what you need to know

The glycemic index: what is it and how does it affect your health and weight? Here’s everything you need to know.
 

WHAT IS THE GLYCEMIC INDEX?

 

The glycemic index (GI) is a rating of how quickly carbohydrate-containing foods break down to simple sugars. High glycemic carbohydrates break down quickly into glucose, resulting in a rapid rise in our blood sugar level. On the other hand, slow releasing, low glycemic carbohydrates break down relatively slowly, providing a more sustained release of energy.

 

The GI rates all carbohydrate containing foods, including those like vegetables, pulses and high sugar treat foods, as well as carbohydrates we typically think of like pasta, bread, rice and potatoes.
 

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT IT?

 

If you want consistent energy levels, good concentration and to manage your weight, understanding the glycemic index is important. It’s also key for ensuring good metabolic health. Poorly regulated blood sugar has been linked to a number of chronic degenerative diseases, most notably diabetes.
 
A high GI diet leads to marked peaks and dips in blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels are elevated, insulin is release. This hormone transports sugar from the blood stream into cells to be used for energy. If we have an immediate need for that energy, say if we are exercising, the sugar would be used to fuel our workout. But if we don’t, the sugar will be stored for later use. It can be stored as glycogen in muscle and liver cells, but it can also be converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
 

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

 
While the glycemic index gives an average rating of the impact of that food on our blood sugar, it’s important to remember that different people react differently to different food. Two people could have a very different response to the exact same food. Various factors in our makeup can influence how quickly we break down carbohydrate foods into simple sugars.
 
For example, I am aware that I am particularly sensitive to carbohydrates. Though DNA and gut bacteria testing, I know that my body will rapidly convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, putting me at greater risk of weight gain and diabetes if I eat a high glycemic diet, compared to those who are not so sensitive.
 
The portion size we consume is another important consideration, this is where ‘glycemic load’ (GL) comes in. The glycemic load takes into consideration a typical portion of a particular food whereas the glycemic index doesn’t.

 

What you eat with your carbohydrate can also affects it’s impact on your blood sugar level. Eating a carbohydrate food alongside sources of protein or fat can slow their release into the bloodstream

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A LOW GI DIET?

 

If you’ve ever experienced a mid afternoon energy slump, lack of concentration or cravings for sweet or starchy foods, chances are you know what a blood sugar dip feels like.

 

A low GI diet will provide you with slow releasing energy which will help keep you energised and mentally alert. It will also help to prevent excess blood sugar being converted into fat, resulting in weight gain.
 

FIVE WAYS TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

 

Go low. Stick to mostly low glycemic sources of carbohydrates day to day. Minimise your sugar intake and swap starchy carbohydrates for vegetables.

 

Moderate your portion size. Make carbohydrates a part of your meal, not the whole event.

 

Combine good quality sources of proteins and healthy fats with your carbohydrates to slow their release into the bloodstream.

 

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to higher blood sugar levels. Yet another reason to drink up.

 

Monitor. If you’re serious about fuelling your body optimally, a blood glucose monitor is a great investment. I used Abbott’s Freestyle Libre to monitor my blood sugar levels for a period of time in order to understand exactly how my body responded to different foods.

 

THE BEST LOW GI FOODS

 
Non-starchy vegetables and salad. Fill your plate with colourful, seasonal veg. Think roasted Mediterranean vegetables, stir fries, ratatouille and vegetable curries.
 
Pulses. Lentils, beans and chickpeas are incredibly versatile. They also provide protein as well as carbohydrates making them a great post run refuel option.
 
Grains and pseudograins. Barley, buckwheat, black and brown rice, whole rolled oats, rye, quinoa. These make a great addition to salads and soups.
 



AILSA HICHENS

 

Ailsa is one of our most experienced practitioners. She specialises in helping clients to lose weight, develop a healthy relationship with food and finally feel comfortable in their skin. Ailsa’s mission is for everyone she works with to enjoy the journey and that working with a nutritionist should not be a punishment, but your access to a new possibility.

 

Ailsa is not only an experienced weight loss nutritionist, she is also a skilled coach. She helps our clients overcome emotional eating, destructive habits and self-sabotaging behaviours that have prevented successful weight loss in the past. Ailsa has spent years in clinic working with clients who have experienced yo-yo dieting and have discovered that long term weight loss is not just about eating less until you can stand it no longer.

 

Working with Ailsa you will be comprehensively supported, not only in improving your nutrition and lifestyle, but also your eating habits and your relationship with food. When you work on all these elements together, the results can be truly astonishing.

 

To enquire about working with Ailsa, please contact us.

Test Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of the business. Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning. A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

NIKKI ANDRIANI

 

Nikki is our Practice Manager, managing our team of practitioners and heading up the day-to-day running of th clinic.

 

Nikki is involved in the strategic development of our practice, coming from a strong business background in town planning.

 

A Florida girl, Nikki relocated to the UK in 2014 with her husband and two children.

STÉPHANIE ACHAR

Stéphanie is a skilled nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner with additional training in eating disorders, disordered eating and obesity. She believes that working towards both physiological and mental health is key in achieving optimum wellbeing.

 

Stéphanie’s personal experience of emotional eating and the ongoing struggle to find the right support led her to combine the science of nutrition with behavioural coaching to motivate and empower her clients. She specialises in helping people who struggle with their weight and their relationship with food. She helps them develop a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.

 

To enquire about working with Stéphanie, please contact us.

INNA WEARN

Inna is passionate about supporting women on their journey to improved health and wellbeing. She believes that the solution to effective weight loss does not lie in ever more restrictive diets, but a more sophisticated approach that optimises health and vitality, as well as promoting effective weight loss.

 

Working with Inna you will benefit from her in-depth knowledge of female health and hormones. She will support you in developing a healthy diet, lifestyle and mindset that ensures you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the years to come.

 

Inna is passionate about food with a wide repertoire of delicious healthy recipes and meal ideas to ensure your weight loss journey is as enjoyable as possible!

 

To enquire about working with Inna, please contact us.

ANIA MASON

 

Ania is a firm believer that improving your health and losing weight should be a positive, empowering journey, not one centred around deprivation.

 

After being diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions in her twenties, Ania spent several years educating herself on the power of food and nutrition. She put it all into practise and changed her diet and lifestyle, reversing her endometriosis and thyroid disease. After experiencing such a significant improvement in her health, Ania had a big desire to help others. She embarked on a four year journey to study nutrition, graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with distinction.

 

Ania specialises in autoimmunity and works with clients who have underlying health issues preventing successful weight loss. Her expertise enables her to successfully support our clients with conditions such as hypothyroidsm (underactive thyroid), PCOS and diabetes. 

 

To enquire about working with Ania, please contact us.