Posted by: faithful | July 15, 2007

answers to commonly asked questions about glycemia


Commonly Asked Questions

Does following a low glycemic food plan mean that you can never eat high glycemic foods?

No. it just means that the meals and snacks eaten will be glycemically balanced. For example, carrots are very high glycemic. But, a small amount of carrot eaten with other foods will not significantly elevate insulin levels. If you sat down to a meal consisting of a pound of carrots, your insulin levels would be elevated.

Does a low glycemic food plan ban the use of all sugars?

No. Some diet books do warn against the use of sugar in any form, but GRI’s Low Glycemic Food Plans do not. Research has shown that about 5 tablespoons of refined sugar may be consumed per day without compromising blood sugar control. If the sugars are eaten with foods (like protein in ice cream) that reduce the glycemic impact of the sugar, then the total glycemic response is acceptable.

Since fat lowers the glycemic response of a food, can’t I eat high-fat french fries instead of baked potatoes or rice with a lot of butter?

The theory is correct. Fried potatoes, like french fries and potato chips do have lower glycemic indices than baked potatoes, but the GI is still in the unacceptable range. Additionally, high-fat foods can reduce the glycemic response of a meal without reducing the insulin response. High-fat foods are not heart-healthy and they stimulate LPL, the fat-storing enzyme.Adding butter to rice does reduce the glycemic response, but the combination of butter-fat with fat-storing carbohydrate like rice, programs the body to store the food in the fat cells. To reduce the glycemic response of rice, make sure the rice is not “sticky.” Cooked rice should be dry with the grains separate, and not gooey or clumped. Chinese and Japanese rich is typically high glycemic.

If two different foods contain the same calories but different glycemic indices, aren’t they both equally fattening?

No. Foods with similar or identical calories do not stimulate fat-storage equally. As an example, table sugar (sucrose) has the same caloric value as maltitol. When 30 grams of maltitol is given to fasting humans, there is only a slight response in serum glucose and insulin. After sucrose is ingested (in the same group) increases in these parameters are significant. Sucrose stimulates LPL activity in adipose tissue, while maltitol does not. Lower adipose tissue LPL activity results in lower body fat accumulation.

Why is pasta included in the Low Glycemic Food Plans, but rice is not?

The glycemic index of almost all pasta is low, while the glycemic index of almost all rice is high. It is very difficult to identify a lower glycemic rice by looking at the label. The higher the amylose content, the lower the glycemic index. Amylose content is not revealed on labels. Also, cooking methods affect the glycemic response of the rice. Rice cooked too long will have an elevated glycemic response. Contrary to popular belief, brown rice does not have a lower glycemic index than white rice.

Can I eat as much low glycemic food as I want and still lose weight?

Unfortunately not. Though low glycemic foods do not stimulate fat-storage as efficiently as high glycemic foods, they still contain calories. If you eat 4,000 calories a day, low or high glycemic, and do not exercise, it’s likely that you will be very overweight. The good news is that you can consume more calories on a low glycemic food plan than on a typical diet.

Can I eat any amount of low glycemic carbohydrates and still maintain low insulin levels?

No. The total amount of carbohydrates in a food or meal has to be added to the equation. Blood insulin responses increase as carbohydrate intake increases. Blood insulin levels can incrementally increase even if blood sugar response does not. The rise in insulin is dose-dependent, meaning the amount of carbohydrate ingested can affect insulin levels even if the food does not elevate blood sugar.For example, a piece of sponge cake is eaten. No significant change in blood sugar or insulin is evidenced. Three additional pieces of sponge cake are eaten. Blood sugar rises and insulin rises. Three more pieces of sponge cake are eaten. Blood sugar does not continue to rise while insulin does.

Can I add fiber to a meal to reduce its glycemic response?

Yes and no. There are different forms of fiber. Fiber that slows digestion (soluble fiber) reduces glycemic impact. Insoluble fiber typically does not slow digestion and therefore does not reduce glycemic impact, but there are exceptions.

Why aren’t sugars listed in the Acceptable and Unacceptable Food List?

The topic of sugars and sweeteners is so complicated that we created a separate report dedicated to that subject. A listing of sugars is found in the “GRI Sugars and Sweeteners Report 2001”.

Why don’t food manufacturers state the glycemic response of their products on the label?

Food manufacturers probably will not reveal the glycemic response of foods and drinks on labels until forced to do so by the FDA. One reason is that many of the prepared foods in the grocery store are very high glycemic. If labels revealed the glycemic response as “high glycemic,” it could negatively effect sales of the product. Glycemic testing can also be expensive, and many food companies are unwilling to commit funds to costly testing.It has been incorrectly stated by Australian researchers that the first incidence of a food company adding glycemic information to their product labels was in early 1999. In fact, the first product marketed to the public that provided glycemic information on a product label was in 1982. Another company (publicly traded on the NASDAQ) in the U.S. has been marketing, selling, and labeling low glycemic food and drink products since 1995.The Glycemic Research Institute offers a Seal of Approval to companies whose products qualify. There is no charge for the Seal of Approval. Go to for more information.

Why doesn’t the Food List state the numerical index of the foods?

The glycemic index of a food depends on many factors including harvest time, gene species, cooking methods, age of food, type of processing, protein and fat content, fiber content, nutritional profile, and many other variables. Different studies of the same food have resulted in glycemic variations ranging from 20-40 points.There are also two reference foods, glucose and bread, with different numerical values, and most people do not know the difference between them. There are currently only three recognized research organizations in the world conducting glycemic research, and their glycemic indices for the same foods do not match. When people use a numerical value to determine the glycemic response of a food or meal, they need to factor in every variable, including cooking methods. This becomes an impossible test, even for nutritional biochemists.Further, the human variable has to be taken into account. Glycemic index variations occur in the average person, the diabetic and the non-diabetic. These variables can change the glycemic response to a food or meal by as much as 100 percent. This means that the same person can have different blood sugar responses to the same food on different days.When low glycemic food plans contain numerical values, many people use the numbers to MIS-calculate the glycemic response of a meal. They will add up the numerical value of the foods and then divide by the number of foods, to obtain an average glycemic index. This calculation works for mathematical problems, but it doesn’t work for the glycemic index. There is a calculation that can be used to ascertain an average GI for a meal, but it is complicated and requires knowledge of the carbohydrate content of each ingredient, the percent total carbohydrate, the GI of each ingredient, and the percent of each ingredient in the food or meal.

It would be quite a task to figure out the glycemic response of every meal and snack eaten. We have found that many people will still revert to using the averaging-method which renders an inaccurate value. This can be dangerous for diabetics who need an accurate glycemic response. Even if all the calculations were done within plus or minus (~) 5% accuracy, the other variables as discussed above can render the data inaccurate.

The Low Glycemic Food Plans were designed to allow anyone, from a mathematics professor, to a foreign exchange student who speaks very little English, the ability to adopt and follow a glycemically balanced program.

The Glycemic Research Institute (GRI) has been conducting glycemic research for eighteen years, longer than any other organization. GRI also holds patents in the field of low glycemic technology, and has been monitoring the results of low glycemic foods and drinks in humans for almost two decades. Aside from the field of weight gain and obesity, our research includes designing and monitoring low glycemic food plans and products for professional athletes at the peak of their careers. GRI has designed the Low Glycemic Food Plans based on our extensive research and expertise in the glycemic field.

Chart courteously provided by Dr. Ann de Wees Allen Glycemic Research Institute. More information can be found at


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