Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index is a measurement of how a carbohydrate-containing food raises your blood glucose. Foods are ranked based on how they compare to a reference food — usually glucose.

A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with a medium or low GI.

Each time you have a sugary or starchy food or drink, the blood glucose level in your body rises. Some of these foods are quickly digested and cause quick and sharp rises in your blood glucose levels – they are called high GI foods and drinks. Low GI foods and drink, which are more slowly digested, will make your blood glucose rise more slowly.

Meats and fats don’t have a GI because they do not contain carbohydrate.

High GI foods raise blood sugar faster, so the pancreas is stressed to produce high amount of insulin in a short amount of time to balance the blood sugar level.

High GI foods raise blood sugar quickly. Within 30 minutes blood sugar starts to fall rapidly. Note that it falls below where it started. When it falls below normal levels, confusion, tiredness and depression can occur.

Low GI foods increase blood sugar slowly. After 30 minutes blood sugar starts to fall gently. Note that it finally reaches the normal level where it started.

Eventually high GI foods will also decrease your general level of happiness.

Following are some examples of foods based on their glycemic index:

Low GI Foods (55 or less)

Stone-ground whole wheat bread



Sweet potato


Beans & peas


Most fruits

Non-starchy vegetables and carrots

Medium GI Foods (56-69)

Machine ground whole wheat bread

Quick oats


High GI Foods (70 or more)

White bread

Corn flakes

Puffed rice

Instant oatmeal


Popcorn, salted biscuits

Melons and pineapple

Anything sweet prepared food with added sugar

A healthy way to use the GI principles is to include a range of lower or medium GI foods that are also low in fat and calories in your meals. When you eat a food with a high GI, you can combine it with low GI foods to help balance the meal.

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