Today, we have Paleo Diets and High-Protein Diets that may cause people to not get enough Carbohydrates on a daily basis. Our Central Nervous System must have Glucose readily available to operate at it's functional level. Without it, you experience brain fog, headaches, and lethargy.
The Glycemic Index is a guide that ranks different sources of Carbohydrates on their ability to influence a person's blood sugar (Glucose).
The deal is that we must take it for Face Value, an Index that gives us an idea of what these carbs do as they metabolize into our system - the influence it has over our individual Blood Sugar Level.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is useful for understanding how the body breaks down Carbohydrates.
We can't assume that just because a Carb ranks high on the Index that its "Bad." There is really a time and place for a lot of different Carbs in our diet. For Athletes, this is definitely True.
Just to lay it out there- the numbers show scores of 55 and Less is LOW on the GI.
56 to 69 is in the moderate range.
70 and up equals the HIGH range.
100 is the standard that is measured against- this is Table sugar or a piece of White Bread.
What we all are fighting against is the dreaded "Crash." The result of eating too many high-end GI carbohydrates in one sitting. We have all been here before and know the feeling.
What are examples of high-end Glycemic foods? White bread, doughnuts, raisins, bagel, graham crackers, pretzels. Of course, highly-processed, sugary candies fit into this category also.
When you "Crash," this equals low energy and jeopardizes anything you want to do that's productive. If you are an athlete depending on these types of "Carbs", forget it. Athletes have to be very diligent in their planning for Nutrition intake.
How do we use the Glycemic Index in our favor? Like I mentioned, take it for it's face value as a guide. The truth is that these scores are for the isolated food itself. We must realize that this number will change as it's influenced by a cooking process or combined with other foods. Also, an individual's Insulin Response may have different timing than someone else.
For these reasons, we can't get too wrapped up in these numbers. BUT, there is benefit. This index can help us control blood sugar levels.
As an athlete, I can use this guide to prepare before workouts with my Carbohydrate consumption. Before activity, I can stick with the moderate to low range Carbs so that I have more sustainable energy that provides glucose in a steady manner. If there's ever a time for the higher glycemic foods, it's post activity or exercise. This is the time when the body is replenishing depleted glycogen stores.
It's about timing. 1 to 2 hours post activity is my recovery window. I want the Carbs to replenish my blood sugar and protein to reward my muscles.
If I have 20 grams protein, I have at least 40 grams of Carbs. Please understand that this is not free-reign to go crazy with the BAD, PROCESSED stuff. Unfortunately, if you go this route you are filling your body with things that are void of nutrition. Your body just worked hard in your sporting event or workout and gets nothing of benefit to refuel and reward afterwards.
Another great thing about the lower number foods is that they have good amounts of Fiber included. Fiber is beneficial to the Digestive system and provides Satiation. These foods really help us regulate blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Try to find Carb Foods that will give you 3 grams Fiber/serving. This is SO IMPORTANT! If you have a happy Gastrointestinal system = you have a happy body!
Take Home: Don't get too tripped up over these numbers. Eat a variety of Carbs but time when you eat them according to you activity and time of day.
Eating is meant to be enjoyed and much like the rest of life, should have checks and balances.
Jami Lynn and Keith McCormack are Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coaches through the CHEK Institute. They have a passion for good food, quality movement patterns, fresh air, and the companionship of loyal canine friends. They love to offer assistance, support and accountability to anyone in need of their expertise.
You can find them on this blog or @ GOpeakperformance@gmail.com
Check out Jami Lynn on Facebook at Jami Lynn McCormack