Sweet potatoes have more sugar and around the same number of calories as russet potatoes. So why are sweet potatoes marketed as the healthier option? The answer is glycemic index (GI).
Foods like russet potatoes, white rice and flour, and oatmeal are often exiled by the health-conscious because of their high glycemic index. The term is thrown around on every fitness blog and forum, but what does it actually mean?
What is glycemic index?
Glycemic index is a measurement of how much a carbohydrate-rich food spikes your blood glucose (sugar) level. It also measures how fast glucose is released in your body. The greater the GI, the greater the spike. According to Healthline, “chronic high blood sugar increases the likelihood of serious diabetes complications like heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, and kidney failure.”
Therefore, it’s important to incorporate more low GI foods into a healthy diet. But that doesn’t mean cutting out carbohydrates altogether, since your body prefers glucose for energy. It just means being aware of the inconspicuous effects certain foods have on your body. When created, The low-GI diet was intended for diabetics. However, several other communities have adopted the lifestyle. It’s proven successful in managing blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics, according to Diabetes UK.
Why follow a low glycemic index diet?
Eating low glycemic foods can benefit anyone, not just diabetics. Unless you’re keto, carbohydrates are likely a major part of your diet. When choosing which carbohydrates to fuel yourself with, look at glycemic index databases online to find information beyond the nutrition label.
Some popular benefits of the diet are weight loss and maintenance. Not only do low GI foods regulate blood sugar, but they metabolize slower. Not only do insulin spikes from high GI foods hurt your health in the long run, the make you hungry in the short run. Therefore, those spikes lead to more calories consumed, and more weight gained. Foods with low glycemic indexes usually fall under complex carbohydrates, which are carbs that take more time to become sugar in your body. Complex carbs don’t have the drastic effect that simple carbs (high GI foods) do.
Weight loss isn’t the only thing to gain from this popular diet. With a few simple swaps to your carbs, here are some other low GI benefits, according to the Glycemic Index Foundation:
- Improve heart health
- Sustained energy levels
- Heightened mental performance
- Elevated sports performance
- Acne reduction
- Reduce breast cancer risk
What foods have a low glycemic index?
The many delicious foods you’re already eating that have a low glycemic index might surprise you. The GI scale ranges from 1-100: 1-55 being low, 56-69 being medium, and 70-100 being high. Keep in mind that amount, cooking method, fiber, and processing all affect glycemic index. Here’s how some of ingredients stack up:
- Sweet Potato
- Rolled oats
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
- White bread
- Rice cakes
- Instant oatmeal
- Russet potatoes
- White rice
At Thrive Fitness, we help educate our members on the relationship between diet and exercise. The beauty of a low GI diet is that it can compliment almost any other nutritional preference. With Atlanta Meal Prep and our Holistic Nutrition coaches on-site, you can accomplish your goals both in and outside the gym. When you combine a healthy diet with one of Thrive Fitness’ personal trainers, you can live the healthy lifestyle that will benefit you for years to come. To get started today, email firstname.lastname@example.org.