The Secret to Making the Glycemic Index Work For You

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels after eating. It’s a useful tool when trying to manage your weight or diabetes because it helps you determine what foods are best suited for you based on their effect on blood glucose levels. If you’re not familiar with the GI chart, here’s a quick explanation:

Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) measures your ability to absorb glucose from food. A higher HbA1C means you have better control over your blood sugar levels. A lower number indicates that your body doesn’t properly break down the carbs into glucose.

For example, if you eat a meal with 100 grams of carbohydrate, and your HbA1C is 7%, then this means that only about 70% of the carbs will reach your bloodstream within one hour. The other 30% could take up to three hours before they reach your system.

If you ate the same amount of carbohydrate but had a HbA1C of 11%, then the carbs would reach your bloodstream within two hours. But since most of these carbs won’t get absorbed until later, you’d need to eat even more than just 100 grams of carbohydrates in order for them all to be digested and converted into glucose.

The bottom line is, the lower your HbA1C level, the easier it is to control blood sugar levels.

You can learn more about HbA1C by reading this article on the Glycemic Index and You. For now, let’s go over how to use the information in the chart below.

When you eat carbohydrates, they’re broken down into sugars that enter your bloodstream. From there, your pancreas releases insulin to process the sugars for energy or fat storage. The speed at which this happens is determined by the glycemic index.

There are four glycemic indexes:

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Low GI foods (55 or less) are slow to digest and are great for managing weight and lowering your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Medium GI foods (56 – 69) are okay in small quantities, but should not make up the bulk of your diet.

High GI foods (70 and above) should only be eaten occasionally or in small quantities.

Here’s the GI chart with some examples of food products to give you an idea of what you should eat and what you should avoid.

Low Glycemic Index Foods

FOOD GLYCEMIC INDEX Lima Beans 27 Oatmeal 71 Melon 78 Kidney Beans 80 Brown Rice 80 Potato 85 Pasta 87 Sweet Corn 91 Whole Grain Bread 101

Medium Glycemic Index Foods

FOOD GLYCEMIC INDEX Long Grain White Rice 62 Short Grain White Rice 67 Puffed Rice 68 Gluten Free Bread 70 Pancakes 77 White Bagel 83 White Bread 85 Cracker 94 Corn Flakes 98 Shredded Wheat 99

High Glycemic Index Foods

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FOOD GLYCEMIC INDEX Ice Cream 92 Chocolate Bar 98 Honey 103 Jam 115 Doughnut 116 White Bagel 83 French Fries 124 Potato (fried in oil) 139

Why the Glycemic Index is Important to Your Health

The glycemic index is especially important if you have diabetes, prediabetes or want to lose weight.

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are too high because your body can’t use insulin properly. Eating the right foods at the right time can help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. For instance, if you have diabetes and you eat foods with a high-glycemic index, your blood sugar will spike, which will require a large amount of insulin. This large dose of insulin could then cause your blood sugar to drop quickly. This is a dangerous situation that can put you in a coma or even kill you.

Remember, the lower the glycemic index of a food, the slower your body will digest it and absorb its sugars. This results in an even distribution of sugars in your bloodstream.

If you don’t have diabetes, you still need to watch your glycemic index. Eating high-glycemic foods can cause weight gain and heart disease.

How the Glycemic Index Can Help You Lose Weight

Since high-glycemic foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and an excessive release of insulin, eating these foods day after day makes you gain weight. It’s like putting gasoline on a fire.

When you eat a low-glycemic diet, you lose weight because the sugars from low-glycemic foods are absorbed more slowly. This prevents spikes in blood sugar and excessive insulin release.

How the Glycemic Index Can Help You Maintain Your Weight

Eating a low-glycemic diet has other benefits. Since the sugars are absorbed slowly, you stay full longer and don’t feel the urge to snack between meals.

The foods with a high-glycemic index (white bread, white rice and most sugary foods) should be avoided.

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5 Tips for Using the Glycemic Index

Tip 1: Know Your Starches

Starchy foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans and legumes are all good sources of energy and they’re filling, too. But some are better for you than others. This is because the fiber in the fruit slows down the digestion process. So, for best results, eat whole fruit rather than drinking its juice.

Tip 3: Select Your Milk with Care

Whole milk does have a high GI of around 70, while one percent milk has a rating of around 46 and skim milk comes in at a low 33. The reason for this difference is that the fat in whole milk slows down the digestive process. However, full-fat milk is high in calories so trim down your waistline by choosing skim milk instead.

Tip 4: Choose Your Sugar with Care

Refined sugars like corn syrup have a very high GI rating (around 95) but this doesn’t necessarily mean that all sugars are bad. Unprocessed sugars like honey and molasses are low in the glycemic index, as is most fruit sugar. If you need to sweeten your food or drink, use a little honey or unsweetened applesauce to help keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Tip 5: Choose Your Meats with Care

Meat, like whole milk, has a high rating because of its fat content. A three-oz serving of ribeye steak has a GI rating of around 65, while the same size serving of skinless chicken has a rating of around 40. Fish is even better with a rating of only around 38. However, as with whole milk, you don’t want to eat too much meat because of its fat content. A better choice is skinless white-meat chicken or turkey which both have a very low rating of 25.

Glycemic Index of Some Common Foods

Food Serving Size Glycemic Index (┬▒) Fast Acting White Rice 1 cup 71 Pasta (Elbows) 1 cup 71 Quick Oats 1 cup 69 Sweet Corn 1 cup 66 Puffed Rice 1 cup 63 White Bread 2 slices 61 Bagel 1 medium 60 Sugar Peas 1 cup 56 Lentils 1 cup 53 Rolled Oats 1 cup 48 Apple Juice 4 oz 48 Grapes 1 cup 46 Apricots 3 medium 44 Peach Juice 4 oz 40 Kidney Beans 1 cup 40

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FOOD ITEM GLYCEMIC INDEX White Bread 100 Pancakes 81 White Rice 58 Pasta (white) 52 Bagel 52 Croissant 52 White Potato 69 Instant mashed potatoes 74 Chartwell Sweet Potato 77 Corn 54 Rice cakes 54 Apple 36 Raisins 64 Candy bar 63 Milk Chocolate 46 Low-fat yogurt 41 Banana 34 Orange 44

The information in this table was taken from the University of Sydney Glycemic Index website at:

(LINK REMOVED) Banana 1 medium 38 Cherries 1 medium 33 Grapefruit 1 medium 32 Orange Juice 4 oz 32 Carrots 2 medium 24 Potato (White, Cooked) 1 medium 23 Iceberg Lettuce 1 cup 5

Glycemic Index Values of Some Common Foods

If you’re diabetic you should look for foods with a low glycemic index. Here is a list of foods and their respective glycemic index.

Last but not least, make sure to get adequate sleep and exercise. And don’t forget to keep your mind occupied during the day, whether it be with projects or hobbies. Staying mentally stimulated will take your mind off of food and you’ll find that you eat less without even trying. You may even find that you naturally start eating healthier food as well.

A word about the glycemic index (GI); GI is a measure of how much a carbohydrate food raises a person’s blood glucose level. The glycemic index value ranges from 0 to 100+, with pure glucose having a ranking of 100.

The foods that rank high tend to be refined and processed foods like white bread, most cereals, macaroni, most crackers, tortillas and rice.


Acid: A substance that releases hydrogen ions in water, causing the solution’s pH to become more acidic. Some common acids are battery acid, vinegar, and lemon juice.

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Alkaline: The opposite of an acid; a base. It is a substance that releases hydroxide ions in water, causing the solution’s pH to become more alkaline. Baking soda and ammonia are two common household alkalines.

Appetite: The desire to eat.

Bacteria: Tiny one-celled living organisms. Some bacteria can only survive in anaerobic conditions (without oxygen). Some of these bacteria cause diseases and infections while some are necessary for the digestive process.

Calorie: A measure of the energy content in food.

Carbohydrate: One of the three main nutrients in food; the others being protein and fat. Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates include sugars such as glucose and fructose, while complex carbohydrates include starches such as those found in breads and pasta. Common carbohydrates foods include grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Cholesterol: A waxy steroid alcohol that is an essential part of all animal cell membranes, and is required to maintain healthy bodily functions. Includes natural substances such as sugars, grains and potatoes.

Chromosome: The structure that contains DNA inside the cell nucleus. Most animals have chromosomes in the form of tightly coiled threads visible under an electron microscope. Humans have 46 chromosomes.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid): A long polymer of molecules that carries genetic information.

Enzyme: A complex protein that acts as a catalyst to speed up biochemical reactions in the body. However, high levels of cholesterol in the blood may lead to health problems. Sources of cholesterol include animal products such as meat and eggs.

Diet: The food that a person or animal eats. Diet is a term used to refer to what someone eats in general. A diet refers to a grouping of foods that someone should eat or should not eat, depending on whether they are following a regimen to gain or lose weight.

Gene: Discrete units of heredity that are passed on from parent to offspring. Genes are made of DNA.

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Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a body organ that transmit signals to another part of the body. Some hormones control the actions of other hormones.

Kilocalorie (kcal): Unit measure of food energy. One kcal is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

Electron Microscope: A microscope that produces a visual image of an object by using electrons (instead of light) to illuminate the target and a TV cameralike detector to create an image.

Gene: The fundamental physical and functional unit of heredity of a living thing. Genes are located inside the chromosomes of the cell nucleus.

Glucose: A simple sugar and the main source of energy for the brain and muscles. Glucose is absorbed into the body through food.

Hereditary: A term that means transmitted by ancestry or inherited. When used to describe a trait, it refers to a trait passed from parent to offspring.

Molecule: The smallest possible amount of a chemical compound. Molecules are made of two or more atoms usually in a constant ratio of atoms.

Protein: A complex organic substance composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. Proteins are essential parts of all living things, from plants to animals to humans. Proteins are needed to build and maintain bones, muscles, skin, hair, and organs, and also to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.

Simple Carbohydrate: One of three main nutrients in food; the others being fat and protein. For example, the oxygen in the air is made of two atoms (O2), water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O), and glucose is made of six carbon atoms, twelve hydrogen atoms, and six oxygen atoms (C6H12O6).

Genetic engineering: A type of technology that involves cutting out a gene from one organism and pasting it into the DNA of another organism. They are the simplest form of carbohydrate and most easily absorbed by the body. They include sugars and starches.

Triglyceride: A form of fat that is ingested with food and stored in adipose tissue (body fat). Chemically, all fats consist of varying quantities of three fatty acid chains that are bonded to a glycerol backbone.

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Triglyceride: A form of fat consisting of three fatty acid groups bonded to a glycerol backbone.

Protein: One of three main nutrients in food; the others being fat and carbohydrate. Proteins are chains of amino acids.

Virus: A microscopic organism that cannot carry out the life processes necessary for survival and growth without using the resources of a host cell. Viruses cannot reproduce on their own (without using the resources of a host cell). They are not living things.

The smallest unit of an organism that can reproduce itself independently. Bodies are made of cells.

Zygote: A cell formed when a female ovum (egg) and male gamete (sperm) unite to form a single cell with a single set of chromosomes. After the zygote divides several times, it develops into an embryo, and later, a fetus. Instead, they must commandeer a host cell and force it to produce copies of the virus.

Antibody: A protein that is designed to attack invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses. An antibody recognizes a specific foreign invader, known as an antigen, and then tags it for disposal by other defense cells.

Ampule: A small container used to hold medicine. The medicine in an ampule is under pressure, so that if punctured it releases the medicine rapidly.

Catalyst: A substance that changes the rate of a chemical reaction but is not used up in the process. Also called a catalyst.

Chromosome: A thread-like structure that is located in the nucleus of a cell and contains genes (blueprints for various aspects of an organism). Humans have 46 chromosomes, 44 of which are autosomal and 2 of which are sexual.

Dysfunction: An abnormal condition. These types of containers are often used for injectable drugs.

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Amphibians: A class of animals that includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. They are animals that have both lungs and gills as embryos, but as adults they live on land and in water or on land only.

Analgesic: A type of medication that relieves pain without causing unconsciousness, and does not put too much at risk if used with other drugs.

Systemic: A term used to indicate something that is spread throughout the system, rather than being localized. For example, a medicine that is taken by mouth but that affects the whole body rather than just the area in which it is applied is systemic.

Bioavailability: The degree to which a substance (such as a drug or chemical) is soluble in or penetrates into biological systems. The higher the bioavailability of a drug, the more likely it is that the drug will produce effects on the body.

Antivenin: A substance created to counteract the effects of a poison produced by an animal, such as a snake. It is usually injected into the body and can be lifesaving.

Cerebrospinal Fluid: The clear liquid that fills the gap between the brain and skull, and the brain and spinal cord. It is generally in direct contact with every part of the brain.

Cholinergic: A term used to describe a drug that functions by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. These drugs have effects that include increased secretions, decreased heart rate, and bronchodilation.

Decongestants: Medications that reduce inflammation or swollen mucus membranes in the nose. They are used to prevent or treat sinus congestion or other nose-related problems.

Euphoria: A strong sense of well-being or happiness, and a loss of the pain response.

Genome: The complete set of genetic information of an organism. Also called DNA.

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Hormones: Substances created by glands in the body that enter the bloodstream and cause changes in other organs and tissues.

Hypnotic: A drug used to induce sleep.

Immunity: Resistance to a specific disease that develops when a person is regularly exposed to it.

Injection: The act of introducing a substance into the body with a needle.

Lymphatic System: The network of vessels and glands that carry fluid away from tissues and organs in the body so that the fluid can be returned to the blood. This system is part of the immune response.

Nasal Decongestants: A type of drug used to relieve nasal congestion (stuffy nose) from allergies, colds and infections. They are commonly in pill form or as nasal sprays. Decongestants are available over-the-counter.

Neurotransmitter: A chemical produced in nerve cells that transmits messages to other nerve cells.

Opioid: A large group of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, as well as some prescription pain relievers. These drugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Some common opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), codeine, morphine and fentanyl.

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Over-the-counter (OTC): A product that can be sold without a prescription.

Parasympathetic Nervous System: One of the two main divisions of the nervous system, which is responsible for stimulating and controlling many automatic bodily functions such as heart rate, salivation and digestion.

Prescription: A written instruction (called a “prescription”) provided by a doctor describing the quantity and type of medication that a patient should be provided. Many drugstores will not sell prescription medication to customers without such a note.

Respiration: The act of breathing; the movement of air into and out of the lungs.

Sensitivity: The degree of reaction that one has to a substance, like an allergen. A person who is sensitive to pollen, for instance, might break out in hives after being outdoors on a spring day.

Sinus: One of the spaces within the bones of the skull that surround the nose.

Sinusitis: An inflammation of the sinuses.

Sympathetic Nervous System: One of the two main divisions of the nervous system. It functions to mobilize the body’s resources in times of stress, action or danger. This mobilization is experienced by the general public as the “fight or flight response.”

Tachycardia: A medical term that refers to a faster-than-normal heart rate (that is, a heart rate that is too fast).

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Vasoconstrictor: A drug that is used to shrink blood vessels and reduce bleeding. Many nasal decongestants, for instance, are vasoconstrictors.

Withdrawal: Withdrawal is the set of symptoms experienced when a person who is dependent on a substance stops using it or taking it. A dose of a drug that would normally be effective in relieving symptoms is either not effective or makes symptoms worse; this is called supersensitivity.

Because it is a liquid that you put in your nose, saline is not regulated in the same way that many other medicines are. This means that unlike some other drugs, manufacturers of saline products don’t have to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before producing them.

Saline is not likely to be addictive, but it can still be habit-forming. If you use a product containing saline regularly for a long period of time, you can become accustomed to it and may experience symptoms of withdrawal if you stop using it.

Saline products sometimes carry warnings that they should not be used with certain medical conditions or medications. For instance, many saline products carry a warning that they should not be used by people with salt intolerance. People with certain medical conditions (such as severe asthma or diabetes) should check with their physician before using a saline product, just to make sure it’s safe for them to use.

Saline can cause irritation in some people, just as allergies and other environmental factors can cause runny noses. If you’re concerned about your nasal congestion and other symptoms, consult a health care practitioner for advice.

Review Date: 7/15/2013

Some medicines and drugs are used to treat symptoms of the common cold and other minor ailments. Many of these products can be purchased without a prescription. This article focuses on three such over-the-counter (OTC) products that can relieve symptoms of the common cold: decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal irrigation.

IST Doctors is an online physician referral service. We do not provide medical advice. Please contact your medical provider for diagnosis and treatment information.

The health information on Best Buy Drugs is not intended to replace the advice or attention of a physician or other health care professional. Always speak with your doctor before trying a new treatment or altering your existing treatment plan. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

Sources & references used in this article:

The glycemic index by D Mendosa┬á– Mendosa. com living with diabetes (no date), 2009 –


The Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies by BJ Willcox, DC Willcox, M Suzuki – 2002 – Harmony