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We hear so much about blood sugar these days, and what foods do to our blood sugar and insulin levels.  What is a Glycemic Index?  What does all of this mean?  And what do we need to understand about it to help ourselves get healthy, stay healthy, and develop a lifestyle of making the right choices in foods?

I want you to get a good understanding of things like “good carbs” and “bad carbs”, and how to make food choices that help you maximize your fitness and health goals! Learn some general guidelines and you’ll be on your way!

First, what does glycemic index mean? When looking at a food, the glycemic index of that food is a rank that describes its effect on our blood glucose levels. A food’s glycemic index based on glucose, which is one of the fastest absorbing carbohydrates available. Glucose is given an arbitrary value of 100 and other carbs are given a number relative to glucose.

Glycemic Index values are given to carbohydrate containing foods (you won’t find G.I. values for proteins like beef, chicken, or fish).  Proteins don’t spike blood sugar so they don’t really play a part in this discussion.

Carb-containing foods with a low GI produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels (that’s a GOOD THING!!). Carb-containing foods with a high GI will spike our blood glucose and insulin levels (BAD 99% of the time!! — the one exception being immediately after a workout). And the GI of a particular food may not be what you expect! So you need to make some mental notes of the foods to avoid, even within the “healthy” categories of fruits and veggies!

Why does it matter? Spikes in blood glucose are BAD! (except for immediately after exercise). When we eat a high GI food, it will cause a “spike” in blood-glucose levels. This causes our blood-sugar to rise very fast, triggering an equally rapid response from our bodies to pump out enough insulin to deal with the excess blood sugar. Result? Within an hour or so, the large secretion of insulin has dispersed all the excess blood glucose and then some. So we feel hungry again!! If, on the other hand, we eat a low GI food, the glucose release is much slower, and the energy source is extended over a much longer range. Our bodies don’t have to release large quantities of insulin to handle it. And, we stay full longer! It’s a Win/Win!!

The glycemic index is broken down into 3 categories = High (over 70), Medium (56-69), and Low (less than 55). So when selecting carbohydrate containing foods, the better choice is the one with the lower glycemic index! The lower, the better!

Watch this video, which explains the Glycemic Index and how it affects your body, as well as where Shakeology fits into the Glycemic Index:

Now, where do some of your “favorites” rank: Let’s take a look!

Shakeology = 24 (Low)

Apples = 38 (Low)

Bananas = 54 (Low)

Strawberries = 32 (Low)

Cherries = 22 (Low)

Grapes = 46 (Low)

Pears = 38 (Low)

Peaches = 42 (Low)

Watermelon = 71 (HIGH!!)

Carrots = 20 (Low)

Brocolli =15 (Low)

Black Beans = 30 (Low)

Corn = 78 (HIGH!!)

Sweet Potato = 54 (Low)

Potato = 85 (HIGH!!)

White Bread = 71 (HIGH!!)

Wheat Bread = 50 (Low)

Milk, skim = 32 (Low)

So do you need to memorize all GI #’s to be sure you are doing okay? NO! But get familiar with the dangerous foods — the ones with a high GI that you might not expect (like watermelon, corn, and potatoes). Avoid them and choose a different fruit / veggie instead.

And don’t be confused when you look at a label for some bread and notice that both the white bread and wheat bread have the same number of carbs. Not all carbs are created equal! By knowing a little about the Glycemic Index, you can understand why wheat bread is the much better choice for your health — the much lower GI! It won’t spike your blood glucose and insulin. It will leave you feeling full longer, with gradual energy release rather than a rush of energy followed by a crash.

There is much more you can learn about the Glycemic Index if you are interested, but the thing we all need to understand is that not all carbs are created equal, and keeping our body fueled with a sustained source of slow-releasing energy is the best way to stay fit and healthy. Proteins and low GI carbs are the best way to do that!

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