From the Doctor’s Desk

Glycemic Index

We know instinctively that 100 calories of Blue Bell ice cream is going to affect our weight differently than 100 calories of lean chicken breast. The reason why is centered around the concept of glycemic index. Glycemic Index is an important medical concept in understanding how different foods affect our ability to gain and lose weight. Our body can only use sugar (glucose) as an energy source. Everything we eat must become sugar in our bloodstream in order for our bodies to use it for energy. Simply put, glycemic index is a relative scale of how fast the food we eat becomes sugar in our bloodstream. “High” glycemic index foods such as sugary soft drinks and ice cream cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. On the other end of the spectrum, proteins (animal and vegetable) are “low” glycemic index foods. It takes time and energy for our body to convert the protein we eat into sugar in the bloodstream – a process called gluconeogenesis. The slower a food becomes sugar in our bloodstream – lower glycemic index – the longer our body has to use that sugar for current energy needs. The faster a food becomes sugar in our bloodstream – higher glycemic index – the more likely our body will simply store those calories as fat. This storage process happens rapidly, which explains why such foods are rarely satisfying- we are hungry again in no time. So, always try to center your meals and snacks around lower glycemic index foods.

Dr. Michele Cavenee

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