Personal Training in the New Forest, Southampton and Waterside Area

Glycimic Index

Click here to downlaod a glycimic index chart.

Before I explain what the glycemic index is it can be useful to look at how the body responds to food and what drives it to store too much fat.

A healthy balanced body should naturally regulate how much fat is stored and allow it to be circulated in the bloodstream in the form of free fatty acids. Free fatty acids can be used as energy and a range of other functions for optimal health. They get their name simply because they are free to flow around the body.

The problem arises when they can no longer move freely but become fixed and locked down forcing the body to look for alternative fuel sources. The fatty acids become fixed in the fat cells when they become converted into a substance called triglyceride. Triglyceride is the stuff most of us can grab hold of around our waistline.

The blame for this transformation can be passed onto a substance known as glycerol. Glycerol comes from glycerol-3-phosphate, which is derived from sugar. It’s sugar which is the essential element in locking the fat in the cell.

Free fatty acids can be compared to Ikea flat pack furniture. It’s easy to move it in and out of your house when all packed up in the box. The sugar and glycerol is the screws and bolts to the Ikea furniture. Ikea furniture which has been built becomes a triglyceride. Try getting an Ikea wardrobe through your door frame.

For sugars to go to the fat cells and turn the fatty acids into triglyceride’s they need insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is secreted when you eat carbohydrate and one that diabetics are very familiar with.

This is a simplified story of the process and how insulin is responsible for fat storage.

1. You eat carbohydrate rich foods which the body breaks down into glucose so the sugar levels rise in the bloodstream

2. Insulin is secreted to shuttle the glucose away. First it goes to the muscles and liver. If these are full it sends it to the fat cells for storage.

3. The glucose combines with the free fatty acids to form triglyceride fixing the fat  into the cells like the Ikea furniture

Now this is where the glycemic index becomes relevant.

Not all carbohydrates stimulate insulin in the same way. Some foods convert to glucose much quicker in the body than others. And this is what the glycemic index shows.

Glucose has the highest score of 100 and all other foods are compared to it. The higher the rating the more it effects blood sugar and the more insulin will be produced. This could be considered the most fattening food. You may have heard of carbohydrate being described as slow release or complex. This would be a lower GI food and the body takes longer to break down it down into glucose giving a steady stream of energy and a less violent surge in insulin

To give you a guide most experts consider foods with a GI score of 70 or more as high and therefore highly fattening. 50-69 is considered medium and anything below 49 is considered low GI.

When looking at the glycemic index you will notice that fruit is listen as medium and high. What you also have to consider though is the quantity in which these foods are eaten. I don’t know many people who go on a water melon or pineapple binge three times a day so the GI score reflects badly on a food which isn’t too guilty.

The real culprits are cereal, potato, rice and bread not only are they high GI but they are also eaten in larger quantities and more frequently. It has also been proven that these foods are often less satisfying and can increase your appetite making you crave even more. This is a common fattening vicious cycle many people find themselves in. The reason for the appetite increase is related to the GI score as they are quickly converted to sugar they have a destabilising effect on blood sugar. The theory is that once the blood sugar levels suddenly shoot up large amounts of insulin are released in response. This can drive the blood sugar down too low and cause a condition known as hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar. This is the sate when you feel dizzy, hungry and irritable. In my food diaries I often find this happens to people in the afternoon after a sandwich and bag of crisps for lunch. I call it the mid day slump and it will have people reaching for chocolate and biscuits by 3pm. They will have the same craving as a heavy smoker missing their nicotine hit. This phenomenon can also effect sleeping patterns and mood even leading to depression in some cases.

The reason the Kinect Method food plan has to be tailored to the individual is that many people respond differently to carbohydrate ingestion. Some find they need to cut out all carbs to help almost reset the insulin balance and return it back to normal. Others depending on their activity and metabolism can respond well to  some high GI foods. This can all be worked out using the food diary and through regular personal training sessions.