Glycemic Index and Glycemic Response Insulin
Attempting to base food choices on glycemic index is a difficult task; however, for people with particular health concerns, such as diabetes, glycemic index may be an important consideration in choosing foods. The total amount of carbohydrate in the diet, in addition to the type (low versus high glycemic index) that replace dietary saturated fat may also be an important factor in determining the effects of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to the type of carbohydrate in the food, the total amount of carbohydrate in the diet is important for diabetes management. Your best bet, therefore, is to choose a variety of vegetables daily and limit refined grains as well as foods that are high in added sugars and low in other nutrients.
Recommended Carbohydrate Intake On average, Americans consume 200-300 grams of carbohydrate per day, well above the 130 grams needed to meet the body’s essential requirement for carbohydrate. A range of intakes is associated with good health, and experts recommend that adults consume 45-65% of total daily calories as carbohydrate. (That’s about 225-325 grams of carbohydrate for someone who consumes 2000 calories per day.) The focus should be on consuming a variety of foods rich in complex carbohydrates, especially whole grains.
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Athletes in training can especially benefit from high-carbohydrate diets (60-70% of total daily calories), which enhance the amount of carbohydrates stored in their muscles as glycogen and therefore provide more carbohydrate fuel for use during endurance events or long workouts. Carbohydrates consumed during prolonged athletic events (for example, sports beverages and gels) can provide fluid, electrolytes, and glucose to help fuel muscles and extend the availability of glycogen stored in muscles.
Caution is in order, however, because overconsumption of carbohydrates can lead to feelings of fatigue and underconsumption of other nutrients. Added sugars sugars that are added to foods should not be a major contributor to the diet. Added sugars include the white and brown sugar and high-fructose corn syrup that are added to foods like candy, baked goods, sodas, and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Added sugars contribute 16% of the total calories
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fiber in the typical American diet. Foods high in added sugar are generally high in calories and low in nutrients and fiber, thus providing “empty calories.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Patterns recommendations are designed so people can meet nutrient needs and have no more than 5-15% of calories from BOTH solid fats AND added sugars. To reduce your intake of added sugars, limit soft drinks, candy, desserts, and sweetened fruit drinks. The sugars in your diet should come mainly from fruits, which are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, and from low-fat or fat-free milk and other dairy products, which are high in protein and calcium.
Fiber A Closer Look
Fiber is the term given to nondigestible carbohydrates provided by plants. Instead of being digested, like starch, fiber moves through the intestinal tract and provides bulk for feces in the large intestine, which in turn facilitates elimination. In the large intestine, some types of fiber are broken down by bacteria into acids and gases, which explains why eating too much fiber-rich food can lead to intestinal gas. Even though humans don’t digest fiber, it is necessary for good health.
Carbohydrate An essential nutrient; sugars, starches, and dietary fiber are all carbohydrates.
Glucose A simple sugar that is the body’s basic fuel.
Glycogen A starch stored in the liver and muscles.
Whole grain The entire edible portion of a grain (such as wheat, rice, or oats), including the germ, endosperm, and bran; processing removes parts of the grain, often leaving just the endosperm.
Glycemic index A measure of how a particular food affects blood glucose levels.