Carbohydrates- Part 2

Have you ever had a heavy meal of rice and refined products yet ended up feeling hungry after a couple of hours? It would have been followed by lethargy too. The culprit is the food you ate. After a heavy meal of carbohydrates/refined food products there is a sudden raise in blood glucose followed by the swift drain which leaves us hungry and tempt us to eat another calorie or carbohydrate rich meal.

What has this got to do with carbohydrates you might wonder! Let me tell you about the Glycemic index or GI as it is known.

Glycemic index is a scientific method of ranking carbohydrates from 0 to 100.It is basically a scale to check the raise in the blood sugar level after a meal.

When one eats foods with high GI, there is a spike in blood glucose/blood sugar level. Insulin is released which converts the glucose into fat. The next thing it does is to inhibit the utilization of body fat. Now this is really harmful to the body especially if you are a diabetic or have heart related problems.

With the glycemic index grading the food in a range between 0 to 100, we can say that the foods that rate the lowest are the best for the body as they are digested much slowly. This means the glucose/sugar is slowly released into the body without a sudden spike in the blood sugar level.

The foods can be classified into 3 categories based on GI

Low glycemic foods – GI less than 55.
Moderate glycemic foods- Ranges between 59-69
High glycemic foods- over 70.

Here is a list of some of the low glycemic index which can be termed as the desirable foods

• Long grain rice
• Whole wheat pasta
• Oats
• Barley
• Quinoa
• Brown rice
• Buckwheat
• Barley
• Slow cooking oats
• Bulgur wheat, wheat grain
• Pulses and legumes
• Low fat milk and milk products
• Soy bean and soy milk
• Nuts like peanuts, flaxseed, sesame etc
• Fruits like apple orange, grapes, guava, lemon, lime peach, pear, berries, kiwi fruit
• Most of the vegetables [other than those mentioned below]

Addition of acidic foods in the meal can slow down the release of food from the stomach. So you can include

• All varieties of vinegar
• Vinaigrette dressings

Moderate glycemic index foods that can be added to the diet occasionally

• Couscous
• Rice vermicelli
• High fat milk and milk products
• Fruits like banana,mango,papaya,figs
• Vegetables like beetroot, sweet corn,yam,pumpkin,parsnip,tapioca
• French fries

High glycemic index foods are the least desirable foods that are best avoided.

• Glucose, sugar ,honey
• Sweetened juices, soft drinks, fruit juices
• White bread
• Corn flakes
• Puffed wheat
• Short grain rice
• Mashed/baked potato, carrots
• Dates , raisins

What is the use of knowing the classification, you might ask. Is it only for diabetics? Here is your answer.

Eating a Low GI diet helps the body by tricking small quantities of sugar into the blood stream thereby marinating the energy level and keeps you feeling fuller for longer periods. It means you will not be tempted to grab a bag of French fries or gulp down a sugary drink right after a heavy meal.

Apart from this a low GI diet helps

• Lose and manage weight
• Increase the body's sensitivity to insulin thereby improving diabetes management
• Reduce the risk of heart disease
• Improve blood cholesterol levels
• Prolong physical endurance

When you want to switch from a high GI to a low GI diet, it becomes very simple. Just swap the foods from one list for the other.

• Eat plenty of salads with a vinaigrette dressing and cut down the amount of potato
• Switch to whole grain/sour dough breads
• Use breakfast cereals based on slow cooking oats, barley etc.
• Use long grain rice
• Include whole wheat pasta, noodles and quinoa.

Unhealthy eating habits and frequent consumption of refined foods will leave you regretting in future as they will surely poise a health hazard on the long run. So, if you want to live fit and slim, a diet that is low in sugar and fat is the magic word!

This article is not a medical advice. If you are suffering from any health related problem, seek the guidance you’re your physician/dietitian before you make changes in your diet.

Earlier in this series

Carbohydrates-Part 1