I've written a lot lately with regards to how nutrition can help fuel our workouts, how a good understanding of nutrition can help with weight gain or loss, and now looking at quality ingredients to help keep us fuller for longer to avoid the snacks that we quickly grab but are so often high in sugar, salts or fats. Introducing the Glycemic Index...
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of foods rich in carbohydrates, based on how quickly they raise our blood sugar levels. It is widely used for people with Type 1 and 2 diabetes (and suggested by doctors for some people that may have high cholesterol levels, or for long term weight management). Foods are ranked from 1-100; the lower the ranking, the slower your blood sugar levels will rise as energy is slowly released. Foods with a ranking of 55 or less are more slowly digested and absorbed, a ranking of between 56-69 is considered a medium GI food, whilst anything above 70 is considered a high GI food and will cause a quicker spike in blood sugars. For those with diabetes, the glycemic index helps them to understand and control blood glucose levels.
Carbohydrates are required by the body for energy - for both normal bodily functions as well as exercise sessions. You might have heard the term "carb-loading" for runners who load up on carbs prior to a long distance race to provide themselves with lots of slow-release energy throughout their run. This is the same sort of concept.
Foods such as rolled porridge oats, some fruits, green vegetables, milk, chickpeas, carrots, wholemeal bread etc have a low GI ranking - they'll keep producing energy for you at a slower rate and keep you fuller for longer. In comparison, foods such as soft drinks, white bread, white rice, watermelon, potatoes etc are considered high GI foods, and will cause a very quick spike in your blood sugars but you'll soon feel hungry again.