The Glycemic Index for Dummies

If your like me, a T2 with little time to monitor all this stuff … I mean I do drink Diet Coke, what more do you want?.. here it is all on one page along with my patented [sort of] go/no-go list. And, it there is nothing to buy!

In my defence, the above is not quite accurate … I was diagnosed a T2 over a dozen years ago, was on the original panel for Avandia in New Zealand and the PRC [] and with a combo of tablets, limited exercise and diet have returned an HbA1c under 7.0 for years now.

However, one person has made the management of my diabetes so much easier…. Professor Jennie Brand-Miller holds a Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the School of Microbial Biosciences at the University of Sydney. Her research interests focus on all aspects of carbohydrates—diet and diabetes, the glycemic index of foods, insulin resistance, lactose intolerance and oligosaccharides* in infant nutrition. She holds a special interest in evolutionary nutrition and the diet of Australian Aborigines.

That is the official resume: I know a little of her personal struggle to get the GI recognised – the dismissal by colleagues overseas. The academic world is small –even smaller for diabetics. She defied an army of critics and now the Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service [SUGIRS –cute?] is respected around the world. Jennie not only persevered, her books have sold over 2M copies [] around the world -her nickname around Sydney Uni is ‘GI Jennie’!

The GI Index
The Glycemic Index is actually just a way of saying “this food raises your blood glucose, or blood sugar, a little bit, or a lot or something in between”. So, it’s simply a scale from zero to one hundred, a bit like a thermometer scale, and the foods that have G-I values close to 100 contain carbohydrates that are able to raise your blood glucose really quickly and that affect is not a good affect, you want carbohydrates to come in slowly, from a health point of view

Classification GI range Examples
Low GI 55 or less most fruit and vegetables (but not potatoes), basmati rice, oats, All-bran, Aussie Special K …and, go prunes!

Medium GI 56 - 69 sucrose, Mars bar, bananas, most power bars.

High GI 70 or more corn flakes, potato, jasmine rice, white bread, white rice, Rice Chex, forget scones and rice cakes and Gatorade.

GI Load

The glycemic load (GL) is a ranking system for carbohydrate content in food portions based on their glycemic index (GI) and the portion size.

The usefulness of glycemic load is based on the idea that a high glycemic index food consumed in small quantities would give the same effect as larger quantities of a low glycemic index food on blood sugar. For example, white rice is somewhat high GI, so eating 50g of white rice at one sitting would give a particular glucose curve in the blood, while 25g would give the same curve but half the height. Since the peak height is probably the most important parameter, multiplying the amount of carbohydrates in a food serving by the glycemic index gives an idea of how much effect an actual portion of food has on blood sugar level.

The GI Label
[Australia, NZ & South Africa only at this stage]

Look for it – you will find it on previous no-go foods like: breads, breakfast cereals, yoghurts and chocolate drinks … and, you can believe them!

When you see the GI Symbol on a food package label, you will find the GI value of that food near the nutrition information panel, along with the words ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’. The value is a reliable measure based on proper testing in people.

My Personal Go/No-Go Food List

As I said at the start of this – I have kept my HbA1c below 7 for years as a T2 diagnosed over a dozen years ago via a little exercise, tablets and diet. During that period, I started a Cable TV network in the US, a school in China and a new department at a University in NSW. I needed a quick and easy to remember guide and the ability to eat out often.

My go food list – at any time in any place – in sensible portions….

All- Bran [Aussie is lower than US!] Muesli

Pasta [just about all types] Sweet Potatoes & Yams
Milk [just about all types] Yoghurts [look for natural sweetened]

Beans Nuts & Raisins

Fruits [skip dates] Vegies [skip pumpkin and potato]

Meat, Poultry & Fish –have no carbohydrates, so no GI – watch the fat & frying! However, wokking is a good way to go!

*oligosaccharides - for those that really want to know – they are natural sugars
occurring in plants, some of which are in the Aborigine diet!

Jim in Bathurst

Mark, take the time to go to their website [actually a unit of Sydney Uni] - - there you will find books that have been modified for US conditions: Empirical measurement rather than metric; adjustments for brands and products … that there is little knowledge of the rules of cricket :smiley: -worth tracking down at your local bookstores.
Good Luck, Jim.