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Glycemic Index: The Importance Of The Glycemic Index In A Bodybuilding Diet

Understand The Role The Glycemic Index Plays In Your Bodybuilding Diet


What’s a Low GI Food?

While there are many opinions out there on what a low GI food is, typically a food under 55 is considered low, a food under 70 is medium and anything over 70 is high. However, we must understand that what you eat in conjunction with your carbohydrates will affect your GI. Every time you eat a protein with a carbohydrate the total GI of the meal will go down since protein is a very complex molecule and thus slows down the digestion of the carb. Fats also have this effect. Since you will not be eating just a carbohydrate in your bodybuilding nutrition plan, then the raw GI number should only be used as a guideline. Besides, GI does not provide us with the whole answer as to which carbohydrate is best for us in order to lose fat.

What GI Does Not Take Into Account

An important reason why we cannot take GI as the only measure of whether a carbohydrate that we choose will help us lose fat or not is because GI does not take into account the different ways in which the body handles complex carbohydrates from starches like brown rice (or grains like oatmeal) vs. a simple carbohydrate like an apple. This leads us to the following topic which is Complex Carbohydrates vs. Simple Carbohydrates.

Complex and Simple Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: complex carbohydrates and simple ones.

The complex carbohydrates are hundreds of sugar units linked together in single molecules (reason they are called complex) and typically give you more sustained energy (provided they have a medium to low GI) as they take more time to be broken down by the body. Note: Complex carbohydrates with a high GI behave more like a simple sugar, which is digested quickly.

There are two types:

Once again, you should be eating these complex carbs in small portions, but more frequently throughout the day.

  1. Starchy: Provide you with actual raw energy that the body can use. Good sources are Oatmeal, Grits, Brown Rice, Lentils, Sweet Potatoes, and cream of wheat.

  2. Fibrous: The body cannot absorb these but they are rich in vitamins and minerals. In addition, fiber cleans up your intestines, which allows for better absorption of the nutrients that you get from digestible foods. On top of that, mixing fibrous sources with starchy sources lowers the rate of digestion of the starchy carbs thus lowering their GI. Good sources are: Asparagus, Squash, Broccoli, Green Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Lettuce, Red or Green Peppers, Tomato, Spinach, and Zucchini.

Simple carbohydrates are made up of one, two, or three units of sugar (at the most) linked together in single molecules, and thus, give you immediate energy as they are released more readily in the body. Good sources are: apples, pears, cantaloupes, oranges, cherries, strawberries, grapefruit, lemon, nectarines, peaches. Higher sugar fruits like grapes or bananas are best for after a workout if desired.

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