Glycemic index (GI) is an index which ranks various food items on the basis of their glycemic response. This is the rate at which carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the human body. Such an index has a scale of 0-100 wherein higher values are given to foods that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. Pure glucose has Glycemic Index of 100 and is considered as a reference point.
Nutritionalists earlier believed that simple sugars used to digest quickly and thus resulted in a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and the opposite scenario was true for complex carbohydrates. However, now it is known that this is not always true. There are many sugary and sweet food items which do not have high glycemic index. Also, there are certain starchy foods such as potatoes and white bread whose values on the index are higher than sugar and honey.
For non-diabetic people there are instances when an increase in the blood sugar level leads to an increase in insulin and this is desirable. This mostly happens after undergoing some or the other streneous excercise or physical activity. It is in such a case insulin helps to move glucose in the muscle cells where it helps to repair tissues. It is because of this that physical trainers and coaches recommend consumption of food items with high GI immediately after excercise.
It has also been found that GI alone does not increase blood sugar. It is equally important to know the quantity of food that is consumed. When the glycemic index is combined with the total quantity of food intake it is known as Glycemic Load (GL). So this load is considered to be a standard to measure the total quantity of carbohydrates that have been consumed in a portion of food on the basis of the GI. The glycemic load combines the quality and amount of carbohydrates as a single number.
It is known that your body functions in the best possible way when its blood sugar levels are maintained at a constant level. Therefore, it is important to understand the values of the glycemic load and glycemic index of food products that we consume on a regular basis thoroughly.