What Are Low/ High Glycemic Foods and How Do They Affect Energy Levels?
You may have heard of the term “glycemic index” before (sometimes referred to in short as GI).
You may not know it, but the glycemic index can be very helpful in determining which foods are helpful to your energy levels and which ones are not. In this article, we will explore what the difference is between low glycemic foods and high glycemic foods, as well as how that is related to your energy levels.
What is the glycemic index?
The glycemic index is used to evaluate foods that contain carbohydrates.
Specifically, the index looks at how particular foods affect your blood glucose levels (for those who are unaware, blood glucose is another way of referring to your blood sugar).
Not all foods are represented on the glycemic index; only foods that contain carbohydrates are evaluated.
So, something like red meat, which has a high protein content but is lacking in carbs, will not show up on the glycemic index.
The index is very useful for diabetics, but it can also be very helpful for the general population.
What is the difference between low glycemic foods and high glycemic foods?
So, now that you know what the glycemic index is, you may be wondering what the difference is between foods that score high on the index and foods that score low. Well, the answer is quite simple.
High glucose foods (70 and above on the index) are rapidly digested and have a much quicker effect on the blood sugar levels.
Something like high fructose corn syrup, which is used as a sweetener in many products, is an example of something that would be digested quickly and have an almost immediate impact on blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, low glycemic foods are foods that take longer to digest and thus take longer to have an effect on blood sugar levels.
Things like fruit, vegetables, beans, and seeds are good examples of low glycemic foods.
How do they affect energy levels?
If you want a quick burst of energy that will not last long, then you want to eat high glycemic foods.
They will digest quickly and you will get the rush of energy quicker. This can be useful in certain situations, such as exercise.
The downside is that because they digest quicker, you will feel hungrier faster. If you want to feel fuller and do not need a quick burst of energy, then go for low glycemic foods.
You will still get the energy boost when the food digests, it will just take much longer to kick in.
Which Foods Leave You Feeling More Energized Throughout the Day?
Food is necessary to keep you going throughout the day, anyone who has ever tried to work without breakfast or lunch can attest to that.
But food can actually be responsible for a lack of energy too, if you eat the wrong things.
If you often find yourself feeling tired, or foggy in the head, then it may be time to have a look at what you’re regularly eating.
High glycemic vs low glycemic foods
Before we get into a list of foods that you can eat, we will cover why certain foods leave you feeling energized throughout the day while others seem to only give you short bursts of energy. It all relates back to a piece of food’s place on the glycemic index.
Foods that place high on the glycemic index are digested quickly and will have an immediate effect on your blood sugar.
This results in a spike in your energy levels, but your energy levels quickly dissipate after that initial spike.
On the other hand, foods that rank low on the glycemic index take a while to digest. They have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels, but the effect lasts much longer.
So, if you want to be energized throughout the day, you need to start your day off with a meal full of low glycemic foods.
Foods to include
Some of the easiest things you can do include swapping white pasta, bread, rice etc. for wholegrain versions. Avoiding sweet treats also helps.
Instead, you should snack on nuts and seeds to help keep your energy levels consistent.
Fiber also helps to keep foods lower on the glycemic index.
For example, fruits and vegetables. Salad makes a great choice for a healthy lunch that should keep you energized for longer.
To keep you fuller, combine it with some healthy protein, like fish or chicken, and some low GI carbs.
Foods to avoid
Starchy foods like white rice and most breakfast cereals are very high on the glycemic index.
So, while that bowl of cornflakes may leave you feeling energized on your way to work, it will quickly dissipate and you will be left with no energy throughout the rest of the day.
Likewise, high fructose corn syrup, which is found in many soft drinks, will give you a small boost of energy and then leave you tired for the rest of the day, so avoid drinking soft drinks at lunch.