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January 8, 2015

Why You Should Avoid High Glycemic Foods

high glycemic
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There are two types of carbohydrates when it comes to its effects on blood sugar control. Low glycemic carbs and high glycemic carbs. High glycemic carbs cause rapid rise and falls in sugar levels. Low glycemic carbs cause a slow rise in sugar levels, and thus are sometimes known as “slow carbs”. High glycemic diets are not healthy due to maintenance of elevated insulin levels.

The body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar or glucose to be used by the cells for energy. Insulin stimulates cells to absorb glucose. This is necessary. However, high glycemic carbs trigger a rapid rise in blood glucose followed by a rapid spike in insulin. This then drives blood sugar down rapidly.

So high glycemic eating leads to rapidly fluctuating energy levels. If you feel lethargic 30-60 minutes after a meal you most likely consumed high glycemic carbohydrates. Insulin is also a storage hormone for calories. As long as insulin is high it is difficult for the body to release calories already stored in fat tissue to be burned for energy. Thus, insulin is the fattening hormone.

A rapid rise and lowering of blood glucose following consumption of high glycemic carbs triggers food cravings and low energy which triggers more eating creating a yo-yo effect with blood glucose depicted in the graph below. Sugar is depicted by the purple line and insulin by the red line.

This yo-yo effect on blood sugar and energy levels by high glycemic eating creates problems. Look at insulin levels. Insulin does not fall rapidly like blood sugar and energy levels. It stays elevated and insulin promotes fat storage. Insulin is also very inflammatory and contributes to chronic disease. So high glycemic foods promotes fat gain. Look around you. What do people eat these days? Foods that are high in sugar – a major reason for the obesity epidemic.

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Effects of High Glycemic Eating

There is not much good that comes from eating such carbs. But, below are the bad things that happen.

  • Fluctuating energy levels
  • Excessive food cravings
  • Lack of satiety
  • Easy onset of fatigue
  • Weight gain especially abdominal fat

Take a close look at your diet. Even if you feel you eat well there is a good change you are consuming some high glycemic foods. To avoid these 5 bad effects make the transition to eating low glycemic foods which we will discuss in the next article.


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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