Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 20 - Glycemic index

Well, I lost another pound and a half. I guess that means my metabolism is still chugging along, no thanks to me.

I talked to Dan for a while on Thursday about glycemic index. I don't know how many of you know what this is, but I figured I would share my new knowledge. Enlightening, to say the least.

Basically, foods are judged (high, medium, low - on a scale of 1-100, I think) based on how the body metabolizes them. All foods essentially affect blood sugar (glucose). When it makes your blood sugar go high quickly and stay there for a long time, the index level is high. If it takes longer for your body to process, then the index level is low.

Whether a food is metabolized quickly or not depends on some factors, but generically speaking you should keep to lower index levels. It's not a cut and dry scale. For example, baked potatoes are relatively high on the index. Add fat in the form of frying, and it takes more time for your body to process. So french fries are lower on the index - not healthier though.

As your body processes foods, you want it to process efficiently and not go straight to fat stores. You want your body to use it up or get rid of it. Fat doesn't get used, and the body's generic response is to store it. So processing slowly doesn't do any good when it's just sugar (or starch, in the case of the potato) - and adding fat just makes it harder for your body to do anything good with it.

Best thing to do is to pair your sugars/starches/carbs with protein. Basically, this makes your body use the carbs (sugars and starches are carbs) for repair and upkeep - not for storage.

So basically, this is why my diet includes a protein with every meal. You need the carbs for energy, and the proteins for efficient processing.

Dan and I chatted for a few minutes about the implications of the glycemic index and something called the glycemic load. I get the index part now (I've also done a little bit of research online), but the load part is kind of foggy. I think it has to do with the balance between the carbs and the proteins - the final number or something like that.

In a nutshell:
Carbs AND proteins for every meal, stay away from fats (don't avoid them altogether though), and make sure to eat every 2-3 hours. This trains your body to metabolize efficiently, and you'll lose excess weight. Oh, and don't forget the exercise.

Sounds a lot simpler than it is, I think.


  1. AndI was just thinking about making some Apple Pumpkin Streusel muffins. Darn you Heather!! Wait - if I drink milk with it, does that work?

  2. Spaghetti squash, some crushed tomato puree, a handful of frozen "gourmet" chicken-herb meatballs in the microwave. After it comes out, a "driveby" of parmesan cheese.

    How'd I do, Heather? (You are still doing GREAT, btw!)