Staying energized from dawn ‘til dusk

Do you feel like you’re on an energy roller coaster every day, feeling spunky one minute and lethargic the next? While many of us do, it is actually possible to stay energetic all day long. The secret lies in what we eat.

We need to consume the right amount of energy – or kilojoules – delivered optimally-to keep our bodies working effectively throughout the day. Enter the glycemic index (GI). Knowing the GI of our food helps us to manage our food choices in order to optimise our energy levels, tame raging appetites and keep us feeling fuller for longer.

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a ‘ranking system’ which lists particular foods based on how quickly your blood sugar rises after you eat them. The index has assigned all foods a GI value based on how quickly they are absorbed and their glucose is released into the bloodstream.

What are high-GI foods?

Foods that are considered high GI, such as short-grain rice, white bread and lollies, are broken down in the digestive system quickly. This creates a fast rise in blood sugar levels and a short-lived burst of energy.

What are low-GI foods?

Foods that are low GI are broken down gradually over time and release glucose into the bloodstream more slowly, resulting in a longer, sustained energy boost. Low-GI foods may include foods which are rich in whole grains, including whole grain versions of cereal, bread, pasta, legumes, and many whole fruits and vegetables. Low-GI foods will also help you feel fuller for longer.

Putting the glycemic index to use

While the glycemic index shouldn’t be the focus of balancing your diet, as it only considers one factor, it can be a useful tool in making good food substitution choices. For example, you might swap cornflakes for low-GI oats, or white bread for a low-GI grainy bread.

There is room for high-GI foods in a balanced diet (many fruits, vegetables and cereals are high GI) so the best rule to follow is to just make sure you’re getting a balance of high GI and low GI each day.