Shaping a slim and aesthetic figure basically involves paying attention to what and how much we eat. Glycemic index may be a signpost on the way to the goal. But what needs to be mentioned in the first place is the fact that providing carbohydrates (in particular simple sugars) leads to increasing blood glucose level. It is followed by insulin release, purpose of which is to stabilise blood sugar level. Frequent and rapid fluctuations are unhealthy and definitely not beneficial for our figure. It should be noted that insulin is not only an anabolic but also a fattening hormone, which means that it is considered a fat tissue promoter. Its role is among others regulation and transport of glucose from blood stream into every cell of our body. Thus, sensitivity of cells to insulin action is also important. If not enough attention is paid to working out appropriate eating habits, the cells may develop immunity to insulin, which in turn leads to building up more body fat and problems with fat burning. The more carbohydrates we consume, the more intensive is the transformation into fatty acids that get to the fat cells. Logical, isn’t it? Frequent and abrupt fluctuations in sugar and insulin levels finally lead to development of insulin immunity, that is insensitivity of cells to that hormone. Most often it is accompanied by glucagon exclusion, which causes that desirable results cannot be achieved, even if we eat much less and intensify our physical activity.
What is the role of glycemic index in this context? Glycemic index is a measure that tells us about the scale of the change in blood glucose level caused by eating a portion of food containing 50g of assimilable carbohydrates. The basis of that scale is the blood sugar rise after consumption of 50g glucose. Certainly, a lot has been said about the type of consumed carbohydrates. Thus, consumption of complex carbohydrates should be better for the organism than ingestion of simple sugars. The latter would also cause much faster and sudden spike of both blood sugar and insulin. In this regard, we may conclude that the lower glycemic index the better, as higher value means higher increase of blood sugar. Frequent and rapid fluctuations of blood sugar and insulin are not healthy and inhibit losing excess body fat. Consequently, it would be logical to assume that products with lower glycemic index are safer. Since we already know that excess sugar in diet and unbalanced glycemia may lead to immunity to insulin and form background for obesity or diabetes, it is worth taking that index into account. In particular due to the fact that the problems mentioned above and hypoglycemia occurring as a results of the "pendulum effect", may be detrimental to various systems of the body, for instance:
- Sympathetic nervous system: anxiety and increased muscular tension,
- Parasympathetic nervous system: hunger intensification, nausea and overall weakness,
- Central nervous system: background for depression, drowsiness, motor coordination disorder.
Why did we mentioned hypoglycemia? In fact, it is mainly the problem of diabetics. Correct, but quite often we do not even know the condition of the body and do not pay attention to immunity to insulin, which can be considered a pre-diabetes symptom. Additionally, sudden blood sugar spike is most often followed by a rapid drop, and insulin tends to reduce glucose level excessively.
As we know, properly fast and efficient metabolism is a key factor in getting rid of accumulated body fat. Sticking to glycemic index can often be helpful in this aspect. After all, insulin is the glucose transporting hormone, that also participates in the transformation and metabolism of all basic nutrients.
Is the Glycemic Index scale perfect?
It is hard to confirm that. Everyone is different, so the basis should be observation of the body and undergoing proper examination. Everyone has different glucose metabolism, which means that any two persons may react differently to identical amounts of the same product. In other words: insulin release will not be the same even if we eat the same. Among others, this is why experts suggest to compose dietetic plans individually. It is even more difficult for persons with significant metabolism disorders. What should be considered is that insulin release is not always followed by a proper rise of glucose level. It all depends...
There is no need to go to extremes, though. I am referring here to the fact that quite often persons relying on weight reduction diets, based on the glycemic index chart, forget that the quality of food or degree of processing is essential. In particular when it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients present in food. Lack of nutrients leads to deficiencies, that will not only have long-lasting harmful effect on your health, but can also inhibit weight reduction to a large extent. Not to mention impairing hormonal balance… Lest we forget, we do not consume only one product, but rather a composition of several products forming a meal. What is added to a carbohydrate product, has effect on the glycemic index as well – e.g. pH.
In conclusion, a diet that aims at reduction of excess body fat may be supported by glycemic index charts, but they should not be the absolute grounds. They may be useful for many beginners, but only to a reasonable extent. Aid and guidance? Of course. Strict basis for a nutrition plan? Definitely not. As everyone is different.