Glycemic Index, what is it, how does it affect you and what are the best foods.

Using the Glycemic Index to Slow Down Carbohydrates for a Healthier Diet.

We have all heard of the Glycemic Index but most of us are a little foggy on the details.  The Glycemic Index is a rating system that gives every food a blood sugar health score based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar (glucose) rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose having a score of 100. The lower a food’s Glycemic Index score, the less blood sugar rises after eating that food.

The blood sugar level of those eating a typical American diet goes for a wild ride with every meal. That’s where the Glycemic Index comes in handy — you can use it to select foods that digest slowly,  smoothing out your blood sugar levels and eliminating after-meal sugar highs and lows.

A “slow carb diet” using foods with lower Glycemic Index scores is not a fad diet.  It is a simple and sustainable way to optimize for a longer lifespan and healthspan.  And having an idea of each food’s score on the Glycemic Index is a common sense way to help you stay on the slow carb track.



Why Are Blood Sugar Levels So Important?

Foods that digest quickly often raise blood sugar to excessive levels. The body then over-compensates leading to abnormally low blood sugar levels.  Consistently slowing down carbohydrates and moderating the breakdown of carbohydrates and sugar that lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes may lead to improved long-term health.  There are extensive scientific studies to document this.

Blood sugar levels can also affect appetite and energy levels. Lower Glycemic Index foods take longer to digest and may reduce appetite and produce a fuller feeling between meals.

Another advantage of eating lower Glycemic Index foods is more sustained energy between meals.  On a slow carb, lower Glycemic Index diet, blood sugar does not crash and cause energy slumps and hunger between meals.

Daily exercise and consistent sleep also help keep blood-sugar levels in check.


How Carbohydrates Affect Blood Sugar

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrient groups – the others are protein and fats.

Carbohydrates include not only sugars, the simplest carbohydrate, but also starch and fiber, which are the complex carbohydrates. Sucrose (table sugar), is simply two sugar molecules connected together (glucose and fructose), while starches and fiber are mainly tangles of glucose molecules strung together in long chains.

Unless you are on a strict ketogenic diet, the body needs glucose to function well.  So the goal is not to eliminate carbohydrates, but to keep from overloading the digestive system with fast-digesting high-carb meals and snacks.  This can be accomplished by choosing foods that have a lower Glycemic Index score.


Slow Carb Dietary Supplements

It is not always feasible to eat the natural healthy foods that have a low Glycemic Index score.

Using a specialized dietary supplement at meal-times can turn fast carbs into slow carbs. It is critical to choose a supplement that has been tested and demonstrated to sufficiently down-regulate carbohydrate digestion.  The most common supplement used for this purpose is kidney bean extract. Kidney bean extract is good at blocking the impact of starches, but is ineffective against table sugar (sucrose).  Stronger and adequate carbohydrate control can be accomplished with our scientifically designed product StayLo.  It turns fast carbohydrates into slow carbohydrates at a rate comparable or better than low Glycemic Index foods.

At StayLo, our whole business is helping people enjoy the benefits of a slow carb diet when it is not practical for them to change the foods they eat.  We do recommend switching to low Glycemic Index foods when possible, but when it is not practical, StayLo may be taken shortly before meals to get a similar slow carb benefit.


Good Foods/Bad Foods.

Generally speaking, more nutritious foods will tend to have a lower Glycemic Index.  Red beans, chickpeas, and nuts, as well as whole grains, all have low Glycemic Index numbers. These types of foods slow down digestion.

The Glycemic Index score of a food is not always obvious.  Peanuts for example have an extremely low Glycemic Index score of around 15, but pancakes weigh in at about 100, which is like eating pure glucose.  Did you ever wonder just how much better whole grain bread is than white bread, or brown rice than white rice or sweet potatoes vs. white potatoes?   The Glycemic Index can help!

Moving to a lower Glycemic Index diet starts with understanding how to “trade” away high Glycemic Index foods in your current diet for low Glycemic Index alternatives. As the GI Foundation explains:

“A low Glycemic Index diet focuses on the quality of carbohydrates you eat. Good carbohydrates (low Glycemic Index carbohydrates) are more slowly digested helping keep your blood sugars stable, whereas bad carbohydrates cause your blood glucose levels to rise and fall.”

It’s simpler than you would think to use the Glycemic Index to choose a healthy diet.

As a rule of thumb, foods are often classified as low, mid-range or high based on their Glycemic Index ranking score:


  • Low 55 or lower     These are the best foods

Most fruits and vegetables, beans, minimally processed grains, dairy foods, and nuts have a low Glycemic Index.


  • Mid-range 56-69               Should be consumed in moderation

Sweet potatoes, corn, couscous, and a few breakfast cereals including Cream of Wheat and Mini Wheats have a moderate Glycemic Index.


  • High 70 or higher    Avoid when possible

White bread, rice cakes, most crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, waffles, and most processed breakfast cereals have a high Glycemic Index.


Glycemic Index Scores of Specific Foods

For Glycemic Index scores of all foods you may visit:


The GI Database of the University of Sydney

 The American Diabetes Association GI List

Harvard Health Glycemic Index


The Glycemic Index scores of some common foods are included in the table below.

Low Glycemic Items
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Yoghurt, summer fruit: apricot 11 1
Chocolate Kouka Cacao 86% 18 0
Lasagna, Vegetarian 20 10
Peanut butter, Pure-protein™ bars 22 2
Chocolate, dark, Dove® 23 6
Pasta bake, tomato and mozzarella 23 10
Grapefruit, raw 25 3
Sausages, type not specified 28 1
Peach, raw 28 4
Fish fingers 38 7
Rice & Cereals
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Rice Bran breakfast cereal, extruded 19 3
All-Bran™ breakfast cereal 30 4
Basmati, white rice, boiled 12 min 52 15
Brown rice, steamed 50 16
Mini Wheats™, whole wheat breakfast cereal 58 12
Raisin Bran™ breakfast cereal 61 12
Cream of Wheat™ breakfast cereal 66 17
Grapenuts™ breakfast cereal  67 13
Froot Loops™ breakfast cereal 69 18
Cheerios™ breakfast cereal 74 15
Special K™ made from rice 84 20
White rice, boiled, boiled 13 min 89 43
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Carrots, raw  16 1
Kidney beans  29 7
Green beans, dried, boiled 30 9
Pinto beans, steamed  33 8
Yam, peeled, boiled  35 13
Carrots, raw, diced  35 2
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), boiled 44 11
New potato 47 10
Pea, frozen, boiled  51 4
Sweet corn, cooked 52 17
Pumpkin, peeled, cubed, boiled 30 min 66 12
Instant Mashed potato 88 18
Russet Burbank potatoes, baked  111 33
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Grapefruit, raw 25 3
Apple, Braeburn, raw  32 4
Strawberries, fresh, raw  40 1
Orange, raw  47 6
Banana, ripe 51 13
Peach, canned in light syrup 52 9
POM Pomegranate juice 53 21
Cranberry juice drink, Ocean Spray® 56 16
Grapes, black, Waltham Cross  59 11
Cranberries, sweetened, dried (Ocean Spray, USA) 62 19
Pineapple, raw 66 6
Watermelon, raw  72 4
Strawberry processed fruit bars, Real Fruit Bars 90 23
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Peanuts, crushed 7 0
Peanuts 13 1
Peanut butter, protein bars 22 2
Omega bar, containing linseeds, sunflower kernels and nuts, gluten-free 21 3
Cashew nuts, salted 22 3
Mixed nuts, roasted and salted 24 4
Chocolate, dark with raisins, peanuts and jam 44 12
Name Gly Index Gly Load
Wheat tortilla 30 8
50% oat bran bread 44 8
English Muffin bread 45 5
Banana cake, made with sugar 47 14
Sourdough rye bread 48 6
Corn tortilla, made from white corn 49 11
White bread, toasted 50 7
Wonder™, enriched white bread 77 11
Middle Eastern flatbread 97 15