Diet and nutrition are a very complicated and underrated part of fitness. The reason is not so much that it’s hard to understand, but there are just a lot to it. Is it about how much you eat? Can you balance that with the idea of calories in VS calories out? Or is it about carbs/protein/fats ratio? Does timing play a factor? The answer is: all of the above. Obviously, some are more important than others. At the same time, some are more important to you than they are to someone else. The best thing to do is to be aware of what influences your body and how; and make the necessary adjustments. Today, we will look at the Glycemic Index.
Popular idea of nutrition is often correlated to current fad diets. A couple of decades ago fats were the enemy. Saturated fats were on every label and people avoided any foods that had traces of such fat. Nowadays, carbs are the menace. Keto diets took center stage and people are basing 75% of their nutrition on fats. But are carbs really bad?
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body. It is an essential macro-nutrient. And, if you are not on a restrictive diet, it should take part of most of your plate, every meal.
Carbs are the most calorie-dense macro-nutrient. So, for every gram of carbohydrate there are more calories than for a gram of protein or fat. That is why most restrictive diets cut carbs more than any other macro-nutrient. It is not about carbs being bad, but about carbs being the source of most of your calories. As mentioned above, though, carbs are necessary for a healthy diet. So what can we control about carbs that will help us have a good nutrition without restriction?
One aspect to look into is the Glycemic Index. The GI is a score given to carbohydrates based on how fast each food is turned into glucose.
The scale goes from 0 to 100. It is based on pure glucose, which is given the score of 100. Foods up to 55 are considered to have a low Glycemic Index. 56-69 are medium and 70 and up is high in the Glycemic scale. The higher the number the faster each food is converted into glucose. Why is that important, you ask?
The reason is contained in your blood sugar levels. We all know that when our blood sugar is low we feel lethargic, tired and hungry. But what happens when your blood sugar levels raise too fast (like when we eat candy)? Our bodies respond by producing insulin, which bring the glucose in our blood down, mostly by converting it to fat for storage. Depending on how much insulin it’s produced, our blood sugar levels can go way down and we can experience something called ‘sugar crash’.
Low glycemic carbs can provides us energy without causing the bodily reactions of high glycemic carbs. That is not to say high glycemic carbs are overwhelmingly bad. There is actually a place for them in our diet. As an example, it is beneficial to consume them after a workout. The insulin produced by the pancreas helps glucose get into muscle cells, which helps recovery. Also, if you combine high glycemic food with low glycemic food, the Glycemic Index of your meal balances out.
Not all carbs are created equal.
So, now that you know this extra piece of information, you can use it in your own nutrition. Remember, quantity of carbs still matter. Calories in VS calories out also matter. But it’s good to know how carbs can influence your body. They are essential and you can optimize how you use them. The Glycemic Index is a good indicator of how your body will utilize and react to certain foods.
Overall, it is not about the Glycemic Index. It is, though, another piece of the puzzle. Nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all. Lifestyle, hobbies, workouts and age all play a factor into what is the most important part of your nutrition. If you have questions, come chat with one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches.
by Coach Matt