Much has been made about the physical impact of carbohydrates; some people claim they should be avoided at all costs, while others state that carb loading before a workout is a key to building muscle fast. However, regardless of the claims of the latest fad workout or diet, it’s important to note that not all carbohydrates in food are created equal. In fact, our bodies respond quite differently to each of them. The Glycemic Index (GI) shows the rankings of carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. The larger the effect on your blood glucose levels, the higher it’s ranking on the GI.
Choosing low GI carbohydrates when available - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is one of the secrets to long-term health. Most fruit and low-starch vegetables fall under a low or moderate ranking, meaning those foods have a smaller impact, and are therefore, better for us. Foods and drinks like dinner rolls, baked potatoes and sodas have a much more significant impact on our glucose and insulin levels, and our bodies work harder to turn those foods into fuel.
While it’s important to choose everything you eat in moderation, making sure you limit your intake of the high-impact foods and supplementing those foods with options that have a smaller impact on your glucose and insulin levels can have significant short-term and long-term benefits. In addition to being a key component to shedding excess pounds and keeping them off, low glycemic foods also can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Take a look at this .PDF for a more complete list of foods and where they fall on the Glycemic Index.