A primer on the glycemic index

The glycemic index - widely known as the GI - has been widely touted as a tool for managing diabetes and an alternative to low carb or no carb diets. As someone who managed my diabetes successfully for 16 years with a combination of low GI carbs and regular activity, and who now is on a strict low carb diet along with activity, I have gained some perspectives on the usefulness of grading foods by the Glycemic Index rating of carbohydrates.
For those new to the GI concept, it rates carbohydrates on a scale where 100 is table sugar. The lower the rating, the better, as it means it takes longer for carbs to be turned into glucose in the blood. One hundred is not the limit, as for example Kellogg’s cornflakes scores a shocking 120. Below 50 is considered acceptable for diabetics and includes foods like Uncle Bens parboiled rice, barley, most types of squash, rye bread and slow cooking oatmeal as well as fettuccini.
The catch or problem is that it does not reduce the carb load of foods, it simply delays the release into the blood stream, which was ideal for me for the years when I went for a jog or walk after every meal. I had burned off enough blood sugars by the time the release happened to come home to a good score on my glucometer.
However, eating low GI carbs and slumping into a sofa to watch television, will simply delay the inevitable, a blood sugar spike. So really, the concept of low GI carbs is only really useful to those willing to do the exercise bit and go for a walk, jog or some other part of workout, after they eat. In that context delaying the release of glucose into the blood stream does wonders.
For couch potatoes however, it is, in reality, a waste of time.


Good analysis. I have found just plain old carb counting most helpful. When dx in 2007, I was still able to walk 2-3 miles/day and engage in vigorous standing workouts, as well as several hours of gardening as needed.

While eating very low-carb has also minimized the bad flareups of fibromyalgia that I was once subject to, the arthritis marches on, so while not even close to a couch potato, my workouts are changing (I’m learning sitting exercises, though I can still manage Tai Chi standing) and gardening is no more than 90" at a time…Blessings…Judith in Portland

I think we all experience that as we grow older and our bodies change we have to adapt. It takes a lot more out of me to walk five miles than it used to and I have to walk even further to make a significant dent in my blood sugars.

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I am wondering (and please confirm:) if when we have a low instead eating glucose shouldn’t we have Kellogg’s cornflakes…?