Just as your car needs fuel to run, your body needs energy to keep going. The main form of energy that your body uses is sugar. Sugar is absorbed into the blood stream and delivered to your cells for energy.
So what does this have to do with weight management? Quite a lot in fact! One of the primary regulators of physical appetite is blood sugar level. When blood sugar levels are low, a signal is sent to the brain to replenish the energy stores – as a result we get hungry. Low blood sugar levels can also lead to overeating (particularly on the wrong foods) and binges. Therefore, if we can control our blood sugar levels, it would be possible to gain more control of our appetite.
The body gets sugar into the body from two sources:-
- Sugar in the diet (also known as simple carbohydrates)
- Complex carbohydrates in the diet which are eventually broken down into sugar
Complex (which literally means many) carbohydrates are made up of many sugar units joined together by a bond to make a very large molecule. This molecule is too large to be absorbed by the body therefore, before absorption takes place the bonds between each sugar unit has to be broken to produce many small sugar units that can easily be absorbed.
This process of breaking the bonds (known as digestion) takes time. For some carbohydrates, the bonds are broken easily and the sugar is absorbed quickly. For others, the bonds take longer to break and the sugar is absorbed more slowly.
All complex carbohydrate foods are broken down to sugar and therefore influence blood sugar levels to some degree. However, not all complex carbohydrates act equally. The term Glycaemic Index is used to rank complex carbohydrates on how they affect blood sugar levels.
Complex carbohydrates that are broken down quickly lead to a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels (as shown by the HIGH GI curve) while those that are broken down slowly lead to a slow, steady rise in blood sugar levels (as shown by the LOW GI curve).
The carbohydrates that cause a slow steady rise are more effective in controlling appetite and are therefore the foods to focus on in weight management. The aim is to concentrate on low GI foods as these are the foods that help control appetite.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell the Glycaemic Index of food by just looking at it. To determine the Glycaemic Index, the food has to be tested in a laboratory. Therefore we have to rely on research before we can state the GI of particular foods. Because the GI is a relatively new concept, not all foods have been tested. Here are examples of some foods that have been tested.
- OATS – Oats has a low GI and therefore very effective in appetite control.
- ALL BRAN FLAKES – All bran has a medium GI and therefore less effective in appetite control than oats.
- CORN FLAKES – Cornflakes has a high GI and therefore not at all effective in appetite control.
- PASTA – Pasta has a low GI and therefore very effective in appetite control. Pasta is a wonderful food choice for slimmers, however the topping must be low fat.
- WHITE RICE – White rice has a high GI and therefore not effective in appetite control.
- BASMATI RICE – Basmati rice has a low GI and therefore a far better option than white rice.
- DRIED BEANS – Dried beans has a low GI and therefore should be incorporated in the diet as often as possible.
- WHITE BREAD – White bread has a high GI and therefore best avoided by slimmers.
- WHOLEWHEAT BREAD – Wholewheat bread has a medium GI and therefore better than white bread.
- RYE BREAD – Rye bread has a low GI and therefore the best bread for slimmers.
- Low GI foods help control blood sugar levels and are therefore effective in appetite control.
- The best foods for slimmers are low GI foods.
- People that are hungry all the time should focus on low GI foods.