Updated: Jun 14, 2021
2. Glycemic Index / Glycemic Load:
Constant or frequent hunger is not your fault. There is something driving the hunger. We were not designed to be dependent upon 3+ meals & snacks each day. Many animals go weeks without eating. They have adapted to be able to do this. We have adapted to be dependent upon a constantly available food supply.
The image above adequately explains how foods that deliver a lot of calories in a short amount of time cause both hunger and weight gain - a great conundrum! Our slow-burning (diesel) engine - our body - chugs along using energy between the green dashed lines. What happens when we send more fuel into our system than we need at any moment? In a car, the engine "floods" and shuts down. In us humans, we send that excess fuel (calories) into storage - like a squirrel storing nuts - except we store the fuel in our body as fat.
Not every food we eat causes the sharp "spike" in blood sugar (calories) as depicted in the graphic. Fats (focus on healthy fats) and proteins deliver calories more slowly compared to carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates (sugars). The measure most commonly used for how fast a food delivers calories (sugars) to our blood stream and our body is the Glycemic Index.
Glycemic Index Defined:
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. Sugars have a high glycemic index of around 100
Glycemic Load Defined:
Your blood glucose levels rise and fall when you eat a meal containing carbohydrates. How high it rises and how long it stays high depends on the quality of the carbohydrates (the GI) as well as the quantity. Glycemic Load (or GL) combines both the quantity and quality of carbohydrates.
Our goal is to keep our blood sugar in a non-harmful range (preferably between 65 - 80 mg/dL). Our data indicates that <10% of American are in this optimal range. The main reason is our reliance on carbohydrates as a big part of our diet. And, we Americans tend to favor high glycemic index foods - especially as snacks.
1. Glycemic Index: Post and become familiar with the Glycemic Index. Simply swap high glycemic index foods for foods you still enjoy that are lower on the Glycemic Index scale.
2. Glycemic Load: There is a very important lesson in the Glycemic Load formula. It states that the "load" is tied to the Glycemic Index and the carbohydrate content of the food. This leads to a very easy solution. Whenever you are eating a high glycemic (high carbohydrate and sugar) food, pair it with a low, or zero glycemic index food. So have your sweet potato smothered in hummus, for example. Fats and proteins are considered zero or low on the Glycemic Index. Add (pair) a healthy fat, for example, with something more "sugary." A nice quality slice of cheese or butter is a good companion to corn, which is high on the index. The glycemic load of this meal will be a lot lower compared to the corn alone.
I'm anticipating some confusion. Are you wondering how eating corn with butter is a better solution for having lower blood sugar than the corn alone? After all, the corn alone has fewer calories! TRUE - however, it's not the calories, it's the rate at which those calories are delivered to your blood stream. That's what the GI and GL are all about!
Your body keeps chugging alone burning calories and doing work. The goal is to NOT worry about calories. Instead, the goal IS to bring in calories at the rate at which your body is burning these calories. The image above shows 4 curves, red, orange, yellow, and green. The "green" food has more calories compared to the "red" food but the "red" food creates the "crash" and contributes to diabetes, whereas the high calorie "green" food does not. It more closely meters sugars to your body at the rate your body needs and uses them.
The "red" food above spikes your sugar and your insulin. When you do this day-in and day-out, you become insulin resistant and insulin has to work harder to "push" sugars into your cells. Insulin is also known as the "fat hormone." Insulin pushes sugars - and when you have more than your Diesel engine needs, insulin pushes sugars to fat conversion in your liver.
How can you burn fat is insulin is working hard to store fat?
This is why the high carb, low fat dietary recommendations have made American one of the most obese societies in the world.
Here are a couple of pages of Glycemic Index values. Consider printing and posting these on your refrigerator.
Work to get or stay well - it's worth it!