Have you heard about someone following a low glycemic diet to lose weight and balance blood sugar? It can be very confusing, so here’s the scoop to break it down.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a number that ranks carbohydrate foods according to how they affect blood sugar levels on a scale from 1 to 100. The smaller the number, the less a food impacts blood sugar. So, someone following a low glycemic diet attempts to swap out higher glycemic choices for lower glycemic alternatives.

Foods with a high glycemic index are quickly digested and absorbed causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. 

Some high GI foods include white rice, potatoes, white bread, rice milk, corn flakes and watermelon, while low glycemic index foods include milk, soymilk, lentils, most fruits and non-starchy veggies.

Foods that contain mostly protein or fat, like fish or olive oil, don’t have a glycemic index at all because they have almost no effect on blood sugar.

Factors that affect the glycemic index of a food.

A balanced meal will help delay the absorption of a higher glycemic food like white rice, so it won’t have as much of an effect if you eat it with salmon and veggies. 

Ripeness:

As fruit ripens, the GI increases. For example, a green banana has a lower GI than one with brown spots.

Cooking and cooling starches:

When certain foods like pasta, rice and potatoes are cooked and cooled, they develop resistant starch, which resists digestion and lowers the GI. So, if you heat up leftover rice, the glycemic index will be lower than if you ate it when first cooked. 

The order in which you eat your food matters:

If protein and fat are eaten before a high carbohydrate food, it will slow the digestion of the carbs and thus have less effect on blood sugar. So, if you eat chicken and veggies before your baked potato, the overall rise in blood glucose will be lower.

When you eat:

Time of day can have an effect as well. We tend to metabolize carbohydrates better earlier on. As our bodies prepare for sleep in the evening, our digestive system is less able to manage the carbs so higher GI foods eaten later in the day can raise blood sugar more.

Every human is different:

Because all of our bodies are unique, our glycemic response to the same foods will vary. So simply choosing foods according to a list will not guarantee the outcome you expect. 

What about the glycemic index of alternative sweeteners like stevia and erythritol?

Zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia do not have a glycemic index because they don’t contain carbs. Similarly, erythritol’s glycemic index is 0-1 which also has no effect on blood glucose. So, if you are concerned about the glycemic index of your diet, incorporating Pyure stevia- and erythritol– based products is a great option for your sweet tooth.

Ultimately, a healthy diet will feature higher and lower glycemic foods, and when the desire for a sweet treat strikes, it’s good to know that stevia and erythritol are smart choices that should not contribute to increased blood sugar. 

Sources:

  • Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, et al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55(1):37–43. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2010.03.009
  • Shin DH, Lee JH, Kang MS, et al. Glycemic Effects of Rebaudioside A and Erythritol in People with Glucose Intolerance. Diabetes Metab J. 2016;40(4):283–289. doi:10.4093/dmj.2016.40.4.283
  • Glycemic index and diabetes; The American Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.org/glycemic-index-and-diabetes