I was introduced to the Glycemic Index (GI) back in late 1996 as it began to gain popularity in the bodybuilding and fitness community. I even wrote an overview of the current research and possible applications for our Ironmag Online magazine. At that time, we thought we had found the holy grail of carbohydrate and insulin management. How wrong we were.
Not only is the glycemic index pseudo-science, carbohydrates in any form are bad for us. To start, the glycemic index value of any food can vary by 20 percent or more within an individual and by 25 percent or more among individuals – and that is in highly standardized conditions where a group of people consume exactly the same single source of carbohydrates, like white bread or pure glucose as used in studies. Actually, when you sum up all variations, the numbers presented in a GI-chart have an error variable of 94 %. Now, bring that food into a meal with added fats, amino acids and fiber, and the reaction on blood sugar levels between different individuals will be all over the place. In other words, the value of the glycemic index in predicting changes in blood sugar is abysmal.
The main question is… does it even matter? Even if you could get a ‘lower blood sugar response’ from focusing on certain ‘low glycemic carbohydrates’, they all end up as sugar/glucose in the bloodstream anyway and that is, physiologically, the last thing you want to happen. Your body still has to do everything it can to rid itself of that excessive amount of glucose as it is very damaging to our arterial tissue and blood vessels. It doesn’t matter if carbohydrates are absorbed quickly and cause a high spike in blood sugar, or if they digest slowly and cause a prolonged medium curve. In the end, any carbohydrate-rich food has to be digested and every single gram will be turned into glucose nonetheless. And that also means that the body has to release pretty much the same amount of insulin to deal with that amount of carbohydrates, no matter if it is deemed ‘fast’ or ‘slow’. And as far as insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes goes, either repeatedly high spikes of insulin or chronic elevated levels of insulin over time will have the same effect and outcome – especially if combined with vegetable oils. So, no matter what kind of carbohydrates you consume, they will contribute to this metabolic disease. And the more often you have them, the quicker you will arrive.
I will touch on the ‘necessity’ of carbohydrates in another post where I will also explain that they are NOT our preferred fuel and that they are, in fact, very toxic. If you care about your health and longevity, you should not consume carbohydrates on a daily basis – and trying to apply the glycemic index will do absolutely nothing for you, because it is absolute rubbish.