The glycemic index (GI) is a relatively new nutritional tool used to fine tune carbohydrate intake. It is a measure of the real physiological response to food, giving an indication of the rate of absorption of carbohydrates in foods.
Using this glycemic index information, one can easily differentiate between fast release, and slow release carbohydrates, which enables one to optimise ‘fuel’ levels in the body.
This is of particular relevance to sportsmen and women, slimmers and those with diabetes. Eating mainly slow release (Low GI) carbohydrates before a sporting event, ensures good ‘fuel’ levels in the early stages of the event, as well as preventing the dreaded sports induced hypo’s afterwards. Re-fuelling with fast release (high GI) carbohydrate drinks, maximizes glycogen stores immediately afterwards, preventing exhaustion, hypo’s and resulting in better recovery after the event.
In diabetes optimum blood glucose control can easily be achieved if mostly slow release carbohydrates are eaten in the correct amounts.
And in slimmers, by preventing surges of blood glucose levels, by eating mostly low GI (slow release) carbohydrates, the stimulation of fat STORAGE is prevented. Insulin, the hormone that helps to clear glucose from the blood is also the hormone that stimulates the body to store fat. Thus the more fast release carbohydrates are eaten, the more fat is stored.
Implementing the GI is easy when using the correct ingredients
- Rolled oats contain soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol and effectively lowers the GI of meals.
- Oat bran contains soluble fibre that slows down glucose absorption. Up to half of the flour in any batter recipe (muffins, rusks, crumpets, biscuits, cake etc.) can be replaced with oat bran.
- Wholewheat Pronutro gives good texture to baked goods and lowers the GI. Usually one third of the flour can be substituted with whole wheat Pronutro.
- High Fibre Cereal adds bulk and fibre to batters, without to much increase on the glycemic load of the recipe.
- Mashed butterbeans can replace half of the high GI cake flour in cake recipes.
- Sweet potatoes are full of soluble fibre and can be added to batters, grated raw or cooked.
- Plain or flavoured low fat yoghurt in batters gives depth of flavour,
improves texture and lowers the GI. Use instead of other liquids.
- Low fat or skim milk is better in dishes than water.
- Grated raw apple or canned pie apples can replace some of the fat and sugar in a batter. Apples are an effective and cost effective way of lowering the GI of all baked goods.