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27th of April 2012

Easter weekend saw the annual round hayling island race take place, light winds but glorious sunshine kicked the season off in style for this, and the BSA racing that followed. [more]

Why GI?


What the heck is it? 


And why should we care? 


We all know that the day after a hectic weekend on the water, whether it be surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, kiting, SUPing or similar our bodies are crying out for some rest and recuperation. 


Personally my body goes into overdrive, and I seem to be permanently hungry, trying to replenish the calories burnt in the waves.


Though I may crave chocolate and coffee to get through the monday blues, I  now know how beneficial a low GI diet can be at keeping those hunger pangs at bay. 



GI is the acronym for Glycemic Index, which is a system used to measure the affect of carbohydrates on our blood sugar level and their rate of digestion, on a scale from 0 to 100. 


The ‘GI Diet’ has been highly publicised and endorsed by many a celebrity, but as we all know going on a ‘diet’ and sticking to strict rules just does not work long term, a far better idea is to increase your healthy choices and therefore decrease the amount of food you consume which is not as nutritionally beneficial for your body.



High GI above 70 - used up quickly by your body - you will be hungry again pretty soon - BAD!


Medium GI 56-69 - in between the two - OK!


Low GI less than 55 - keeps your body going for longer - keeps you fuller for longer - GOOD! 


Below are some a simple GI tables including some common foods, it gives each carbohydrate a number which refers to how quickly it is digested. There are two main types of carbohydrates, sugars and starches, examples of carbohydrates include pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, breads and cakes. 



The basic principle you should take from this table is that you want to, when you can, replace high GI foods, with those with a low GI. Quite simply a low GI food will take longer for your body to process, meaning it will fuel you for longer, and therefore keep away those hunger pangs!


It is also important to know that a slow release, low GI food will maintain a more constant blood sugar level. When our blood sugar level reaches very high or very low levels we are more likely to retain calories (ie store them as fat!), keeping our blood sugar as level as possible will help avoid this. 


For example when you eat a chocolate bar I am sure you have all felt the sudden rush of energy from the quick releasing sugars within it, but it does not fill you up at all and you will be feeling super hungry almost straight away. The continuous spikes and troughs in your blood sugar, from regularly consuming foods like this can leave you feeling hungry a lot of the time, as well as tired, headachy and generally lethargic, you will be taking in calorific foods however they will not actually be providing your body with many things it needs. 



However if you have a bowl of porridge, which is a low GI food it should maintain your blood sugar within the optimum parameters, as well as being processed slowly by your body, giving you a more constant energy supply.


Carbohydrates are also given a GL (Glycemic Load) this is calculated for a portion of food, and indicates the affect of the carbohydrate on your blood sugar. As with GI a low figure is good, and a high number is not so, you can work out it out using the following formula:


Glycemic Load = Glycemic Index x Carbohydrates / 100


Websites such as and have great databases, where you can search for a carbohydrate to find out its GI and GL numbers.


The GI of a meal can be altered by eating the carbohydrate with a protein, such as eggs, nuts, meat or fish. Combining a carbohydrate with a protein will make it slower to release and be broken down by the body, again making you feel fuller for longer. 


It is a fantastic idea to include more low GI foods in your diet that high GI, but there is no need to rule out high GI altogether.


Maintaining a healthy diet including occasional treats and of course regular exercise is the best way to keep our minds and bodies in great shape. 


Always consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet. 


Written by Amy Carter

Personal Trainer and FLOW Founder