Clinical Practice Guidelines
The Glycemic Index
What is the Glycemic Index of food?The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose levels compared to a standard food. The standard food is glucose or white bread. Eating sugary or over starchy foods can result in a rise in blood sugar which consequently leads to spike in insulin from the pancreas . These spikes lead to the storage of more fat , drops in energy and at time higher cholesterol levels . Eating low GI foods is a very helpful way of controlling Fatigue which can sometimes be the result of ‘spikes’ in blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes can also be controlled with this type of diet as well as controlled weight loss associated with a ‘healthy eating plan’.
Why should I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index?
Eating foods with a low Glycemic Index may help you to:
- Control your blood glucose level
- Control your cholesterol level
- Control your appetite
- Lower your risk of getting heart disease
- Lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes
Use these meal planning ideas to include the Glycemic Index
as part of healthy eating.
- Enjoy vegetables, fruits and low-fat milk products with your
meals. These are carbohydrate-rich foods that, in general, have
low glycemic index.
- Plan your meals with foods in the low and medium Glycemic
Index starch choices on the list that follows.
w Try foods such as barley, bulgar, couscous, or lentils, which have
a low Glycemic Index.
w Consult a registered dietitian for help with choosing low GI
foods, adapting recipes, and other ways to incorporate low GI
foods in your meal plan.
If I eat foods with a low Glycemic Index can I eat
as much as I want?
No. Using the Glycemic Index to choose foods is only one part of
Healthy eating also means:
- Eating at regular times
- Choosing a variety of foods
from all food groups
- Limiting sugars and sweets
- Reducing the amount of fat you eat
- Including foods high in fibre
- Limiting salt, alcohol and caffeine
Remember that checking your blood glucose before
and 2 hours after a meal is the best way to know how
your body handles the meal. (BLOOD STICKS ARE BEST)
Check out the Canadian Diabetes Association website, diabetes.ca, for more information. (LOTS OF INFO FROM THIS WEBSITE)
Printed September 2008
A lot of starchy foods have a high Glycemic Index (GI). Choose medium
and low GI foods more often.
Low GI (55 or less) * †
Choose most often
100% stone ground whole wheat
Heavy mixed grain
Bran Buds with Psyllium™
Parboiled or converted rice
Medium GI (56-69) * †
Choose more often
Stoned Wheat Thins™
Ryvita™ (rye crisps)
Black bean soup
Green pea soup
High GI (70 or more) * †
Choose less often 3
Potato, baking (Russet)
One change I will make now is:
*expressed as a percentage of the value for glucose † Canadian values where available
Adapted with permission from: Foster-Powell K, Holt SHA, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76:5-76