After talking sugars yesterday, I though this would be a nice roll into the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. These are two values that many with PCOS, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes have heard about. There is actually quite a bit of confusion and controversy around these two, and honestly I am a bit torn on their benefits.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic Index is a value of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels in the body. This measurement is determined through human trials. During these trials a subject is given a fixed amount (100gr) of a specific foods after an overnight fast. After consuming the food, blood samples are taken at specific intervals to measure how quickly the food is broken down into glucose to raise blood sugar levels. Glycemic Index is measured on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being pure glucose. The high the Glycemic Index value, the quicker the food is broken down and higher the amount of glucose in the blood. The lower the Glycemic Index value, the slower the food is broken down and the lower the amount of glucose in the blood.
Here is why I don't like the Glycemic Index:
Okay, now that I've gotten out why it bothers me, it is still a useful tool for those suffering with insulin resistance and blood sugar issues. BUT, you also have to keep in mind that just because a food has a lower GI, doesn't mean it is low in sugar. As I mentioned in the last post, many lower GI foods are actually just higher in Fructose, which causes it's own issues in the body and can still make insulin resistance worse.
So what to do?
For those with blood sugar issues, I do think that it is a good place to start, and a good reference for helping keep blood sugar levels down. You just have to apply the rest of the principles and not just substitute one sugar for another. Using the GI database as a tool can help you make a mental list of foods that are generally going to spike your blood sugar and those that will not.
What is the Glycemic Load?
The Glycemic Load is a way to apply the Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Load estimates of the affects of the amount of carbohydrate consumes by taking into account the Glycemic Index value of that food. While the Glycemic Index only measures the effects of 100 gr of a specific food. The Glycemic index can measure the affects of any amount of food, an entire meal, or an entire day's worth of meals. As I mentioned previously, eating big meals can be just as damaging to blood sugar as eating sugar. Eating smaller portions of foods decreases the overall rise in blood sugar.
It is a "simple" math equation to get the GL of a food:
GL = GI/100 x Net Carbohydrates (in serving size)
Simple right? Sure, but who has time for this...who can take the time to find the GI, and the net carbs of each food and do the math.
The downsides to the Glycemic Load are similar to the Glycemic Index, because it is based on the Glycemic Index. Like the Glycemic Index, it can lead to overeating, but is much better at keeping it in check because it shows the affects of entire meals and how portion size affects the blood sugar levels.
How do We Apply the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load?
As much as I really don't like these value systems, it is the best we have right now. For those with insulin resistance, keeping blood sugar down is an important step, and these tools can help you (if you know how to use them).
There are lists available for the known food values for the Glycemic Index Scale, and more are being tested. (I've got a couple of lists at the end for you...yeah!) Those are helpful for keeping the really high glycemic foods off your table.
Low Glycemic Index <55
Medium Glycemic Index 55-69
High Glycemic Index >70
When looking at the Glycemic Index list, foods in the High Glycemic Index range shouldn't be on your plate...period! Make the majority of your meals be Low Glycemic. Medium Glycemic is the grey area. In my opinion, if you are struggling with blood sugar issues, these too should be avoided...at least until the blood sugar levels have stabilized and symptoms are better controlled. Then, and only then, you can start adding them back in and make a symptom assessment as to weather those individual foods affect you.
Thank goodness for modern technology, and the invention of APPS! There are several apps out there that do the math for you. I have "LOW GI" on my computers and use it to calculate. This app not only calculates the Glycemic index of a food and meal, but also the Glycemic Load of each, as well as for the entire day. The downside to this app is that many of the things that I use are not in the database...boo!
My tips for this app:
Low Glycemic Load <10
Medium Glycemic Load 11-19
High Glycemic Load >20
List of High Glycemic Foods - Or Foods You Should Cut Out
You will notice that most of these are Breads and Bread Products...so needless to say, it's best to just cut out the bread and baked goods.
Breakfast #4 Carnitas Breakfast Bowl
In a skillet, heat oil and add onion and bell pepper. Cook until they start to brown. Add Carnitas and Green Chili's, cook until onions and peppers are cooked through. Layer Beans with Carnitas mixture and top with Avocado.
Snack #2 Hummus and Veggies with Blackberries
Lunch #4 Homemade Sauerkraut and Rosemary Meatballs
Topped with Leftover Meatballs
Shred cabbage, place in a GLASS bowl and coat with salt. Let set 3-4 hours, until they cabbage begins to juice. Stuff cabbage TIGHT into glass jars, leaving 2 inches of room at the top. Add water until the cabbage is submerged. Close lid tight and set one counter. Leave for 5+ day opening lid (burping) and pushing cabbage under the bring daily. After 5 days, taste for flavor and texture. Leave on counter until it is desired fermentation, and then store in the fridge. Cabbage will continue to ferment in fridge, but much slower. Will be fresh, if refrigerated, for up to 6 months.
Dinner #4 Coconut Green Curry Grilled Chicken with Thai Brussels Sprouts Salad