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High GI or Low GI?

Commented on April 09, 2014
Created April 07, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Might sound like a bit of a stupid and very vague question, but how good or bad is a high or low glycemic food all else equal?

The common sentiment seems to be that one should avoid high GI foods as to not spike blood sugar...make sense assuming high blood sugar is bad.

Alternatively it's also common to hear that the GI of foods isn't too relevant for anything, it doesn't matter.

Also I've heard a view that was essentially, High GI is good because it gets the sugar into your body all at once and lets the body deal with it as it likes rather than having a slow release of sugars that requires insulin to be secreted over a much longer time scale. Intensity vs Duration.

So? Wtf? I assume the paleo answer is, "Eat few enough carbs that you don't need to worry about it". But assuming that advice is not followed, how do these two types of foods compare for overall wellbeing?

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 09, 2014
at 06:24 AM

I really searched the web.... I cannot find the data. My suggestion is find a cheap used copy of his book.

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 08, 2014
at 09:24 PM

But where can I download this information? Or where is it in his book? Or is it just scattered throughout in mentions?

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 08, 2014
at 03:43 AM

Ferriss bought a very expensive "continuous" BS meter....like $5000 to $7000? The probes poke into your abdominal skin / fat (I think) to measure BS in plasma. Calibration is done with finger poking a few times per day. The continues meter takes & records BS readings every 5 secs (?) he published the results for various meals in his book.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 08, 2014
at 03:39 AM

Yes.. the strips are expensive when used by the 10 per day.

I bought them on ebay with very close expiretaion dates since I knew I was going to burn through a couple hundred in a month.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 08, 2014
at 03:21 AM

Good point... I forgot to mention the issues of 'see saw' blood sugar.

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:48 AM

I was referencing the numbers BobK mentioned that Tim Ferris and I assume others have recorded. I said GI, I meant to say Blood sugar, sorries.

Would be a nice little headstart if I could see what others have recorded to give me a general idea.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:28 AM

You'd have to have 10 testers eat 100 gram portions of Tim and have their blood sugar tested two hours later....seriously, you could score a diet based on macro ratios if you had them. For a diet that is 70% fat and protein, and 30% relatively resistant carbs (GI = 50), overall diet GI would be about .3 x 50 = 15. Same thing on a 10% carb diet, .1 x 50 = 5. On the SAD with 50% carbs averaging GI = 75, .5 x 75 = 37.5.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:17 AM

The downside of GI is trying to apply it to mixed foods. Protein and fat have GI of 0, and blending them with carbs reduces the GI. This has the effect of giving candy bars and french fries relatively low GI scores. So a low GI is not a panacea for selecting healthy foods.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:11 AM

After my T2 diagnosis I was handed a BG monitor for free along with 10 strips. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how the money is made...I was running at least 3 tests a day for a few months until I got my weight down and my insulin sensitivity returned.

If you look at high carb foods, GI is a fair indication of how resistant a starch is. Fully cooked sticky rice is virtually the same as glucose itself, hence no resistance. Cooked carrots are also high. Yet uncooked carrots are low. GI is useful for selecting fruits, and shows that yogurt is half the GI of milk (lactobacilli).

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 07, 2014
at 11:52 PM

The insulin spike is the bane of carb-eating, because the blood sugar drops can lead to overeating. The old ADA diet methodology forced diabetics to eat less carbs in general, and distributed eating into several small meals. The objective is to level out the sugar spikes. It makes sense for people with unstable blood sugar. I'm not sure that it benefits people who are insulin sensitive, though it would tend to reduce appetite on higher carb macro ratios. One buttered sweet potato (a fairly low glycemic source of carbs) every three hours, for a paleo instance.

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 07, 2014
at 11:38 PM

Any idea where I can find GI numbers for Tim Feris or others who have recorded?

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 07, 2014
at 09:04 PM

But all of those are more exceptions rather than rules, most people aren't diabetic or endurance athletes or ketoers. So from a middle of the road perspective how is one to view this issue?

Is the insulin spike something you want to keep low in intensity as your carbs slowly digest or something you want to just spike hard and get it over with?

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F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 07, 2014
at 10:24 PM

I thought @thhq 's answer is spot on. Yes, he did describe the ends of the spectrum. But depending on one's gender, age, familial health history, current physical condition and typical activity level one can which "end" one is closer to.

I think one only hears "Alternatively it's also common to hear that the GI of foods isn't too relevant for anything, it doesn't matter" from people for whom it served no useful purpose.

We're all (I assume) trying to figure out what works & what doesn't work for us.

When started on my fat loss journey I was ~220 (6') not very active (still not all that active) probably borderline pre-diabetic and maybe the starting of insulin resistance. Making choices based on GI seemed to work for me to lose fat...do I know for sure? No. :(

But at 190 with ~3 or 4" smaller waist, do I care? I still tend to eat low GI but not as strictly when I was 200+.

Short of a blood lab in my garage (would be way cool but I have neither the expertise or desire to geek out that much) I went with what I thought were reasonable.

I would recommend "The BLood Sugar Solution" by Dr Mark Hyman, I started my journey of fat loss as an investigation into T2 for a friend. But as I delved into it I saw the concerns of blood sugar (BS) spiking and resultant insulin spiking. My take (again just my n=1 experience) was "eat to minimize blood sugar rises".

I even went as far as to buy a blood sugar meter on eBay. I poked my finger before I ate foods or a meal and followed with readings every 15 minutes, starting 45 minutes from start of eating (the first 45 minutes showed very little increase & was generally a waste of test strips).

I kept a very haphazard food log and blood sugar record. :(

If I had it to do over again, I'd get a meter that kept downloadable data. Via my testing, I discovered which foods / meals barely moved my BS (~95 to 120; lamb chops, green beans & spinach salad w/ tomato, egg & bacon)

vs ones that spiked it

(95 to 160) <<<< steel cuts oats, a splash of milk & a 1/2 tsp of brown sugar

During my ongoing foods vs BS experiment I was given a copy of 4 Hour Body. TIm Ferriss' published his n=1 food vs BS numbers. They mirrored mine! .... I switched to using his info, saving my finger & my $... those BS strips aren't cheap!

Sorry for the rambling reply but my n=1 tells me to eat low GI foods / meals as a general rule.

Yeah, post workout one can handle high GI foods but why bother? I suppose recovery is faster with high GI foods but I seldom deplete my glycogen and if it gets replenished in a couple hours rather than 1/2 an hour (just guess, so what?)

I believe long term health is better achieved eating low GI and I fail to see the danger of low GI carbs where I do see the possibility of problems with high GI carbs. Perhaps the problem is that most high GI carbs are of the man-made processed junk food varieties? YMMV.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:11 AM

After my T2 diagnosis I was handed a BG monitor for free along with 10 strips. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how the money is made...I was running at least 3 tests a day for a few months until I got my weight down and my insulin sensitivity returned.

If you look at high carb foods, GI is a fair indication of how resistant a starch is. Fully cooked sticky rice is virtually the same as glucose itself, hence no resistance. Cooked carrots are also high. Yet uncooked carrots are low. GI is useful for selecting fruits, and shows that yogurt is half the GI of milk (lactobacilli).

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 07, 2014
at 11:38 PM

Any idea where I can find GI numbers for Tim Feris or others who have recorded?

Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 08, 2014
at 12:17 AM

The downside of GI is trying to apply it to mixed foods. Protein and fat have GI of 0, and blending them with carbs reduces the GI. This has the effect of giving candy bars and french fries relatively low GI scores. So a low GI is not a panacea for selecting healthy foods.

0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 08, 2014
at 03:30 AM

@wtfgod "answer" / comment to @BobK

again the comment char limit WAY short

My BS testing was ~18 months ago. I wasn't mindful or curious enough to consider testing for response of high GI carbs vs low GI carbs plus is did a horrible job of recording the foods & the BS response.

The only one I vividly remember was the steel cut oats, splash of milk & a bit (1/2 tsp) of brown sugar. This was breakfast on an empty stomach early on in my diet / fat loss effort.

I think one should always strive to minimize blood sugar spikes by eating paleo & low GI veggies. I think slow (low) & long is better for you than fast (high) & short. Keeping blood sugar lower all the time is probably better. Perhaps one way to compare the two approaches is the A1c (?) blood sugar long term test? YMMV

One of the things that 4 HOur BOdy talks about is a bit of exercise 'pre-meal' to stimulate GLUT4 (?) so the muscles can absorb BS directly?

0
7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 07, 2014
at 11:33 PM

-- BobK Comment response, stupid character limit --

Meh. :D

Maybe I phrased it poorly:

E.G.

Lets say one was to take in 500G of carbs ( Arbitrary random number )

Now your body obviously has to process those carbs then put them essentially into your blood as sugar where the insulin will then push the sugars into fat/muscle.

So the question is, is it better for the body to have a short period of very high blood sugar and high insulin release and then get back to normal as quick as possible. ( I guess there is a risk that it wont and your blood sugar will stay high )

Or have your carbs slowly digest, slowly depositing blood sugar into the blood keeping your blood sugar lower but requiring a longer period of insulin secretion and reception on the fat/muscle cells end.

So I imagine if you damage the system too much and you can't get your blood sugar back down to stable levels and your blood sugar stays elevated then the high GI foods would be worse, but if your body can get itself back to normal maybe the high GI food is better?

Not really sure, the only person I've really seen state the latter was Kiefer but everyone else seems to say the exact opposite...both sides to make sense if you look at it in a certain light, but I don't know enough to know which one is legit.

I may just have to, like you said, get a glucose meter and see how quickly my body snaps back to base blood sugar rates after eating specific foods.

0
Medium avatar

(10601)

on April 07, 2014
at 08:43 PM

From a diabetic overweight standpoint GI makes the most sense. High glycemics spike blood sugar. It's an accurate way of tagging foods to minimize and avoid.

From an endurance athlete or ancestral hunter-gatherer standpoint high glycemic foods are good for replenishing muscle glycogen and avoiding hypoglycemia.

From a low carb Paleo diet perspective high glycemic carbs would be the least desirable. 20 grams a day is only a teaspoon or two of starch. About enough to thicken a cup of meat juice into gravy. Low glycemic carbs from greens extend the eating window.

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9

(300)

on April 07, 2014
at 09:04 PM

But all of those are more exceptions rather than rules, most people aren't diabetic or endurance athletes or ketoers. So from a middle of the road perspective how is one to view this issue?

Is the insulin spike something you want to keep low in intensity as your carbs slowly digest or something you want to just spike hard and get it over with?

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