It is, too. The glycemic index is a numerical scale that tells you how fast glucose enters your bloodstream after a specific food is eaten. Most versions of the index, including the one I'll use (see pages 80-82), assign pure glucose the number of 100 and measure the effects of other foods in descending order from there. It's a highly effective system. Note, however, that the glycemic index doesn't tell you how much carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food-that is why the glycemic index works hand-in-hand with a carb gram counter. Since there is no single standard glycemic index yet, the numbers may vary in different versions, but the relative order of foods on the various indexes is pretty consistent.
For someone controlling his or her intake of carbohydrates, the implication of such an index is obvious. By using it, you get to know-in advance of eating it-how a given food will affect both your blood-sugar levels and your insulin response. By choosing low-glycemic foods you can insure yourself a stable, smoothly running metabolic engine. That translates into plenty of energy and lays the foundation for both long-term health and disease prevention. The controlled carbohydrate foods you'll eat during the weight loss phases of Atkins have a good deal of overlap with the lowglycemic foods you'll see listed on the glycemic index table on the following pages.
As you can see, this is a tool for measuring only carbohydrate foods. That's because fat causes virtually no bloodsugar elevation and protein very little elevation.
It's interesting to browse through the list. Notice that a baked potato ranks exceptionally high. Starch converts to glucose in the bloodstream with great rapidity. That explains the high-glycemic index of another vegetable, the carrot. White rice, white bread and many cereals are well up there. Bananas and pasta are in the high-mid range.
(Pasta lovers who intend to try to squeeze in a little once they reach the Lifetime Maintenance phase, I have a tip for you: Note that cooking your pasta al dente significantly lowers its glycemic effects. Here's why: The shorter cooking time leaves the long chains of starch that are in pasta more closely packed together than longer cooking time; as a result, it is harder for your body's enzymes to break down this starch so there is less of an effect on your blood-sugar levels. Of course, the best idea is to purchase one of the great-tasting controlled carbohydrate pastas now available to you.)
Glycemic Index (glucose = 100)
Muffins Apple made without sugar Blueberry Bran Corn
Breads and pastry Bagel, plain, frozen Croissant Hamburger bun Melba toast Pita bread Pumpernickel
Waffles White bread
Breakfast cereals All-Bran Corn Flakes Grape-Nuts Muesli
Puffed Wheat Shredded Wheat
42 84 67 66 74 69
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