When it comes to sustained energy, science suggests that everyone from weekend warriors that hit the gym to marathon runners pay close attention to the types of carbs they are eating. Understanding how the carbs fall on the glycemic index is key. If you’re a little foggy about what that means, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Those who have heard of the glycemic index may have only understood it to be helpful in keeping diabetes under control. But understanding the glycemic index can certainly help throughout your fitness training too.
What exactly does the Glycemic Index mean?
Simply stated, the Glycemic Index is a measurement of the rate at which an individual’s blood sugar rises in response to the food they eat. Foods are rated from 0-100 with most foods falling somewhere between 50 -100. Lower glycemic foods absorb slower and are digested at a slower rate, causing blood sugars to rise much slower, and in turn, make you feel fuller longer. White bread, for example, has a glycemic index of 71 while chickpeas fall at just 10.
When it comes to fitness, why should you care about the Glycemic Index?
It’s no secret that human beings love their carbs. You may even have spaghetti or pancake parties with your running buddies (yes, it's a thing). Understanding how the carbs you choose affect your energy level, can make a huge difference in your performance. Foods with lower GI can help to stabilize blood sugar, an important factor for endurance runners, cyclists, dancers, and anyone else needing sustained energy for their workouts. For instance, knowing that a white bagel is high on the glycemic index, may cause you to choose a wheat or pumpernickel bagel, which is lower.
The science behind it all
According to research done on both professional and recreational runners, it was determined that runners and athletes might want to consider choosing a diet of low glycemic foods to not only improve their overall performance and sustain their energy, but to also achieve the optimal body composition.
Food for thought
Studies on how low glycemic foods affect our energy levels are being done all the time on runners and athletes. Understanding how those foods affect athletic performance can also be used in our everyday lives as we try to achieve optimal energy levels based on the foods we choose. Knowing what carbs to focus on and maintaining a healthy diet can help in and outside of the gym.