Are you crashing mid-afternoon? Learn about the glycemic index to avoid that extra cup of caffeine.
The Glycemic Index
Sugar is bad, right? We need sugar to survive and much like the pokemon Ditto, sugar takes many different forms. Regardless of the shape, the glycemic index was created in 1981 to measure the impact of sugar. Its creator David Jenkins, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto, wanted to help people manage their diabetes (dia-beat-this).
The glycemic index measures food on a scale from 0 to 100 on how quickly the body absorbs the sugar and pumps it into your blood stream. Knowing the speed of how quickly you absorb sugar is important, but you can't judge a car solely based on it's top speed.
In 1997, Harvard researchers introduced the concept of glycemic load, which measures the speed of sugar relative to the amount of sugar being introduced into your body. Now we're measuring the car based on how fast it can go and the total distance it covers. See the formula below if you want to nerd out.
Foods high on the glycemic load scale causes your blood sugar levels to increase. A rise in blood sugar triggers your body to produce more insulin. Spiking insulin results in symptoms of tiredness, lethargy, or irritation.
Foods high on the glycemic load scale lead to crashes, so let's get practical on how to incorporate this new information. The image below plots various foods on the glycemic load scale.
We found that berries in their natural form were very low on the glycemic load scale. However, berries outside their normal state, led to very high glycemic load ratings. The same concept is true with fruit in their natural state versus fruit juice. Juice is nearly pure sugar without any of the natural fiber to mitigate the absorption rate. Consider mitigating the effects of high glycemic load foods by reducing the portion consumed.
As your energy levels decline through the day, if you can substitute high glycemic load foods with lower glycemic load foods then you will be able to maintain stable energy levels through the day. Stable energy levels will keep you alert and enable you to continue crushing it.