By Morgan Higgins APD
How many times have you walked down the supermarket aisle or seen an ad on tv where they rave about GI this and low GI that? But what does it all mean, why is it an advertising point and how does it fit into our everyday diet?
GI stands for Glycemic Index. It is a score given to a food which identifies the speed at which the carbohydrates are broken down, digested, and absorbed into the bloodstream. So in other words it is a good way of describing how long a food will provide your body with energy.
If a food has a high GI it means that it will be broken down and digested very quickly in the body and cause a quick release of glucose into the bloodstream. This will cause a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels. A food with a low GI score will be absorbed much slower within the body. The GI of a food is rated on a scale beginning at 0 with foods with a low GI being under 55 foods between a 55 and 100 with a high GI.
But what does this mean for energy levels? Well a food with a high GI will cause a quick spike in your blood sugar levels and energy, and subsequently a fast drop and energy dip. A low GI food however will result in a steady balanced rise in blood sugar levels and provide longer sustained energy, it will also help you to feel fuller for longer and curb cravings to overeat.
So which foods have a High GI? well there are many foods which will cause a quick rise in blood glucose levels. Some High GI common household foods include white bread, most white rice, potato, all cereals which are not ‘low GI’ certified, cracker biscuits, lollies, honey, corn syrups and alcohol.
Low GI foods have been shown to improve glucose levels particularly in individuals with diabetes, due to their slow release action. According the World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation recommendations for healthy eating and disease prevention, diets based around low GI foods will assist in preventing common affluent diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Low GI foods include grain and seeded breads, traditional oats and muesli, most vegetables (excluding white potatoes, corn and peas), brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, soba noodles and reduced fat dairy.
In Australia we are lucky enough to have a foundation which regulates the nutrition claims and criteria of supermarket food choices. By using the Low GI symbol shoppers are easily able to identify products on the shelf which definitely have a glycemic index below 55. Looking for this symbol when you are shopping will make this healthy choice much easier.
What affects the GI of a food? There are many things that affect the GI of a food. Fats and protein will slow down the digestion of carbohydrates in the body, meaning that foods with high fat and protein amounts will be considered lower GI.
Highly processed foods require less digestion and therefore have a Higher GI score, unprocessed oats will be low GI compared to quick 1-minute oats.
The cooking process of a food will affect its GI as overcooking will soften foods and speed up digestion. Al dente pasta for example will have a low GI whereas over-cooked pasta will have a much higher GI.
Some easy hints to increase your consumption of low GI foods include:
When it comes to a healthy well balanced diet look for the low GI symbol at the grocery store. Choosing low GI carbohydrates is definitely the best option for balance and healthy weight loss. They will provide your body with slow release energy, will prevent a quick spike in your blood sugar levels and may help reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular complications and type 2 diabetes.
So next time you go to the supermarket you can look at the Low GI claim and know that you are making a healthy choice.
By Jenelle Croatto APD
The sports food industry is booming! Without question, protein supplements draw BIG attention and are an ever-popular choice among athletes, gym-goers and those wanting to bulk up. The question is, how much protein is enough and is a supplement really necessary?
Firstly, why the fuss over protein? During digestion, protein rich foods are broken down to amino acids, which act as building blocks for muscle. Paired with strength training, sufficient protein will promote muscle repair and help maximise muscle gains. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that more protein = more muscle, the truth is too much protein will only lead to weight gains, stress your kidneys and cause calcium to leech from bones.
The amount of protein needed will depend on age, weight, training type and whether you’re male or female. While minimum requirements for adult males and females (under 70 years of age) are around 0.75g and 0.84g per kilogram respectively, requirements can start from 0.8g per kilogram and sore to 1.7g for elite athletes and those in the early stages of strength training. While active people generally need a higher protein intake, the average Aussie diet already sees most of us eating more protein than needed. Even for those needing a higher protein intake, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian can easily help you meet your protein needs through a well-planned diet.
If your focus is rapid muscle recovery, not only is the total amount of protein important, so too is the timing of protein ingestion around training. As the human body can only absorb a small amount of protein at a time, research suggests that you can best enhance muscle repair and growth by spreading your protein intake out over the day and consuming around 20g protein in the hour after exercise. By also pairing your protein intake with some carbohydrate you can further kick-start the recovery process and also refuel glycogen (energy) stores. When it comes to the preferred type of protein for recovery and growth, high biological protein (HBV), which is derived from animals (meat, dairy and eggs), is more effective than plant protein as it is better utilised by the body and generally contains all 9 essential amino acids.
Yes, a protein supplement is a convenient post workout choice, and can prove to be quite useful when travelling around, however an unprocessed wholefoods option such as a glass of milk is an equally suitable choice that doesn’t come with an exy price tag. Needing to further boost your protein intake? No problem! Add a scoop of milk powder for a protein rich recovery drink. Further to this, milk and dairy products are the number one dietary source of leucine, an amino acid that helps switch on muscle growth and repair. Other wholefood options such as eggs, lean meats, legumes (beans and lentils) and nuts are terrific nutrient rich foods and are an inexpensive way to meet your nutritional needs.
All in all, the choice to use protein supplements is entirely up to the individual. Although they can be useful, they are not essential to “getting buff” or improving sporting performance. If you are using a protein supplements, opt for one based on whey protein, particularly whey protein isolate (WPI), which is digested faster than casein based supplements, delivering a faster supply of amino acids to the muscle.
Fitness, Energy, Education & Diet