So You Want to Eat Carbs with a Low Glycemic Index

Posted August 26, 2008 in Diet, Healthy Lifestyle 10 Comments »

What is the Glycemic Index?

Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index

All carbohydrates are not created equal. A food’s glycemic index, or GI, describes this difference in the way carbs act in your body, by ranking them according to their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels.

Carbohydrates that breakdown quickly during digestion, causing a rapid blood sugar response, have the highest GI.

Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a lower GI.

Choosing carbs that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels, low GI carbs, is the secret to long-term health. Low GI carbs help to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and promote sustainable weight loss.

How We Can Use Our Knowledge of the Glycemic Index

  • A diet rich in low GI foods can help control established diabetes.
  • A diet rich in low GI foods can help prevent the onset of diabetes later in life.
  • In fact, a low GI diet can improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, reversing the risk for Adult Onset Type-II Diabetes.
  • Low GI diets help people lose and control weight.
  • Low GI diets can help people control blood cholesterol.
  • A low GI diet reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Low GI foods reduce hunger and let you feel fuller longer.
  • High GI foods can help re-fuel carbohydrate stores after exercise.
  • High GI foods can provide energy for immediate high energy needs such as sprinting or powerlifting, but…
  • …low GI carbs provide energy for prolonged physical endurance.
  • Help kids to choose low GI foods over high GI foods. This will make them less likely to be obese or develop diabetes, and their teeth will be healthier too.

Foods to Choose


  • Coarse European style whole grain wheat or rye pita bread
  • Cracked or sprouted whole wheat


  • Compact noodle-like high bran cereals (All-Bran, Fiber One)
  • Uncooked oatmeal
  • Porridge
  • Whole Grain Cereal (Kashi) mixed with Psyllium (Fiberwise)

Pasta, Grains and Starchy Vegetables:

  • Whole grain or whole wheat pasta
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Buckwheat (kasha)
  • Couscous
  • Kidney beans (not canned)
  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chick-peas
  • Lima beans
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potato
  • Yam
  • Soybeans
  • Most vegetables

Dairy Products:

  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Cottage cheese (lowfat or regular)
  • Buttermilk
  • Low-fat plain yogurt
  • Low-fat fruited yogurt
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt with artificial sweetener
  • 2% cheese


Most fruit and natural no sugar added fruit juices are low to moderate GI foods. Choose fruit in moderation, but these are the best. All fruit must be fresh or frozen. No canned fruit in syrup!

  • Apple
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Honeydew
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • No sugar added applesauce
  • Fresh cherries
  • Plums and…
  • …grapefruit are the lowest


  • Shellfish
  • “White” fish (cod, flounder, trout, tuna in water)
  • Chicken (white meat no skin)
  • Turkey (white meat no skin)
  • Cornish hen
  • Venison (white meat no skin)
  • Egg substitutes (cholesterol free)
  • Eggs

Foods You Should Eat in Moderation


  • 100% stone ground whole wheat
  • Pumpernickel
  • 100% whole grain rye crackers


  • Grape-nut cereal
  • Medium-fine grain oatmeal (5-minute variety)
  • Uncooked oatmeal

Pasta, Grains and Starchy Vegetables:

  • Rice
  • Boiled Potato
  • Corn
  • Navy beans
  • Kidney beans (canned)
  • Baked beans
  • Beets

Dairy Products:

  • 2% milk
  • Cheese
  • Regular plain yogurt


  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Orange juice


  • Higher fat fish, (salmon, herring)
  • Lean cuts of beef
  • Lean cuts of pork
  • Veal
  • Low-fat imitation luncheon meat

Foods You Should Avoid


  • White bread
  • Most commercial whole wheat breads
  • English muffins
  • Bagel
  • French bread
  • Most commercial matzoh


  • Corn flakes
  • Puffed rice
  • Puffed wheat
  • Flaked cereals
  • Instant “Quick” or pre-cooked cereals
  • Oatbran
  • Rolled oats
  • Shredded wheat
  • Muesli

Pasta, Grains and Starchy Vegetables:

  • Instant rice
  • Brown rice
  • Instant precooked starchy foods
  • Baked potato
  • Micro-waved potato
  • Instant potato
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips

Dairy Products:

  • Whole milk
  • Ice milk
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt sweetened with sugar
  • Low-fat frozen desserts with sugar added
  • Low-fat and regular frozen yogurt with sugar added
  • Tofu ice cream


  • Pineapple
  • Raisins
  • Watermelon
  • Fruit juices sweetened with sugar


  • Most cuts of beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Hot dogs (including “low-fat’ versions)
  • Regular cheese
  • Luncheon meats
  • Regular peanut butter

Choosing the right carbs at the right time will help you in all aspects of your life. Eating low GI carbs in the morning and at lunch will help you stay awake and maintain a linear energy state. Eating or drinking high GI carbs during and after a workout will give you quick energy and help you recover from intense workouts. Eating low GI carbs for dinner will help you to avoid late-night snacking.

When you time your carbs and minimize high GI foods, you are living a healthy lifestyle.

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10 Responses to “So You Want to Eat Carbs with a Low Glycemic Index”

  1. oatmeal cookie calories…

    […]So You Want to Eat Carbs with Low Glycemic Index | Project Swole[…]…

  2. This list is much better:

    The important thing is the AMOUNT of carbs X the glycemic index.
    You could eat a huge amount of carrots for example with no problem. Have a half a bagel anytime you want, especially if you mix with protein or dairy at the same meal. Muesli is also ok if it doesn’t have too much fruit in it, just check the label for sugar.

  3. Brown rice is the lowest GI rice as far as I know, high in fiber too.. although I don’t like the taste that much, it is rather healthy. I’d say: to be eaten in moderation, rather than to be avoided.

  4. I am curious as to why “oat bran” and “brown rice” should be avoided, or is considered as an avoidable food, and also especially considering “rice” is in the list under ‘Foods that should be eaten in moderation’.

    • Default: Those lists are made strictly by analyzing the glycemic index of those foods. The foods that should be avoided have a higher GI than the recommended foods.

  5. I’ve found some really good tasting recipes at They have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. And they’re always adding new ones. They list carb amount, calories, fat, fiber content, Glycemic Index (GI), Glyco Load (GL). I haven’t seen any other sites that offer the GI and GL together in their recipes. Good site if you’re looking for new ideas and good info.

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