A couple weeks back I posted the first installment of this article that will help you understand what the basics of the glycemic index are. Today I want to continue speaking about the power of the glycemic index in helping you to change not only your physical body but also the more important things like energy level, better mood, and increased concentration and focus. Is there any of you that would not like to enhance these facets of life? Please refer to the first edition to this article for the nuts and bolts concerning the glycemic index.
Sometimes we think of calories as calories as calories…with absolutely no differentiation. The fact of the matter is that calories can have a drastically different effect on the body depending where they come from. Let’s say that you are a fitness enthusiast (as you all should be) and you are planning on going on a long 5 mile hike tomorrow. What kind of carbohydrate should you consume…high, medium, or low glycemic? I want to give you some example scenarios to help illustrate the point.
If you were indeed going hiking you would want to start loading up on some low glycemic high energy yielding carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta’s, sweet potatoes, or beans and legumes. Ideally you would want to consume these carbohydrates about 1.5 to 2 hours before your hike (or whatever athletic or recreational event you are planning to endeavor in). The reason for this is that these sources of foods are very low glycemic which means that they break down SLOWLY into your blood stream and provide you with a slow but steady source of calories (energy) for the task at hand. If you were to eat a high glycemic carbohydrate instead and then go hiking you would hit the wall faster because the food would be rapidly digested, your blood sugar would rise, give you an abrupt source of energy but then you would end up crashing as your blood sugar came back down.
Now let’s say that you are in the same scenario with hiking but the only difference is that you have neglected to eat prior to your hike and now you need to get some quick calories in you to get on with your upcoming hike. You only have half an hour before your hike so now you would want to consume something with a moderate glycemic index such as whole wheat bread or corn. You can also consume some low glycemic carbohydrates first such as those listed previously to ensure that you have an “energy cushion”. What I mean by this is that once you burn off the moderate index carbs you still have the lower glycemic carbs to fall back on because they will be breaking down to blood sugar at a slower rate than the moderate ones. Think of it like a birthday cake…you have the initial layer of frosting (your higher medium carbs) followed by the cake itself (the lower glycemic carbs). The frosting is what is going to get you the initial energy boost, and the cake itself will provide the lasting energy because there is more substance and bulk, just like you would get from a lower glycemic carb. Obviously this is not true in real life, but I hope the visual helps.
OK, that is all well and good, but what about it you just want to lose weight! If that is the case then you should be trying to get the lowest glycemic carbs possible at all times because it ensures that you will keep your blood sugar levels low which means less insulin spikes which means less fat-storage! It’s that simple! The bottom line is that you want the carbohydrate to break down as slow as possible so that you can use those calories that it yields. This also ensures that your body uses the available calories instead of storing them.
So go and make the resolution to strategically isolate which carbs you will and will not have. The New Glucose Revolution is a great book series to get you started in this. These simple principles have the ability to take you to the next level IF you apply them…so get after it!
Life is good!