glycemic index
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What is the importance of the glycemic index in bodybuilding?

Using the Glycemic Index in Bodybuilding

glycemic index table

Arguably considered the best tool in the bodybuilding community for monitoring and analyzing all aspects of one's diet, the Glycemic Index (abbreviated GI) allows one to accurately define a quality eating plan. This index replaces the erroneous notion of slow and fast sugars with more specific and measurable data.

What is blood sugar?

Blood sugar is the amount of glucose (sugar in short) in the blood. Many factors, such as growth hormone, glucagon or adrenaline, are involved in raising blood sugar levels, while others, such as insulin, lower them. Don't overuse insulin, its virtues are not miraculous and a wrong use can be harmful. Hyperglycemia is when the concentration of sugar in the blood is abnormally high (above 1.1 grams per liter of blood), leading to the risk of diabetes, and hypoglycemia when it is abnormally low (below 0.60 grams per liter of blood).

Fatigue: Hypoglycemia

Have you ever felt tired after a big meal? Well, it may be due to a blood sugar spike. Indeed, when you eat foods with a high glycemic index too quickly, the carbohydrates are transformed into glucose and pass through the bloodstream, so the blood sugar level increases suddenly. The body will then regulate itself by secreting insulin to lower this sugar level and by this process will tire your body. We are talking about an example for a consequent quantity of food consumed.

If you eat foods with a low index, then you will experience less or no such phenomenon and fatigue.

Need a calibrated nutritional plan?

glycemic index bodybuilding

Glycemic Index definition

L'glycemic indexThe glycemic index is a criterion for classifying foods according to the blood sugar level they produce in the body once consumed. This index is essential for bodybuilders who want to manage their their weight gain or loss.

Weight training and blood sugar

Because sugar inevitably turns into fat, and therefore into grease, monitoring the impact that a food will have after ingestion on one's glycemia is essential for those who are serious and passionate about bodybuilding. The glycemic index of foods can be divided into three groups:

  • Low GIor low glycemic index, with a value below 35 ;
  • Low GIor average glycemic index, with a value between 35 and 50 ;
  • high GIor high glycemic index, with a value above 50.

Dietary glycemic index

First of all, it is easy to find a glycemic index calculator or a glycemic index table that will tell you exactly what a product contains. You should also know that a food may have several glycemic indexes, which vary significantly depending on the refining and cooking process. However, as there are generalities, read these details and advice in terms of nutrition.

Low glycemic index foods

low ig food

Here is a short list of recommended products to keep your blood sugar levels correct.

Wholegrain cereals, rich in fibre, are recommended for daily nutrition and to replace white flours. You can read the article on oatmeal here.

Vegetables in which you will find nothing but goodness for a minimal glycemic index.

Legumes such as lentils, peas or other chickpeas.

All soy products, suitable for dry use.

Fruits, to be consumed in moderate quantities since they provide a lot of nutrients and have a low glycemic index, but be careful with fructose.

Finally, our beloved sweet potato is a food that has a medium glycemic index. And yes we might think it is low but in reality its GI is 50.

However, beware of certain foods that one might think have a low GI but which, once cooked, have a GI that soars. For example, a raw carrot has a GI of 16, whereas a cooked carrot has a GI of 47.)

High glycemic index foods

high ig food

A wide variety of products with a high glycemic index are part of everyday consumption. It's not surprising, then, that you can see why it's easy to overindulge.

White cereals, white rice, white bread, baguettes of all kinds and everything made with white flour. and therefore muffins made with white flour. You should prefer wholemeal cereals.

Potatoes and potato products (French fries, potatoes...). Replace them with sweet potato sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic content. The index for sweet potatoes is 50 compared to 95 for French fries.

The confectionery and sweet shops, on which there is no need to dwell...

Sodas, although a sugary drink can be used during training to invigorate the body a bit. Drink in small sips to avoid a sudden rise in blood sugar.

Using the glycemic index for your nutrition program

Glycemic index for muscle gain

For effective muscle gain, you will need to consume carbohydrates with a low but also high glycemic index at certain times of the day. Thus, it is often recommended to favour high GI carbohydrates in the morning and directly after training, depending on your objective, but always within a precise and defined framework. Indeed, after training, glycogen reserves are at their lowest, for more or less 1 hour. It is during this precise period that we must consume high GI foods. The body uses them to feed the muscles directly. I won't go into the scientific details of what is called the anabolic window or the metabolic window but I will write a more precise article on the subject. That's why I recommend consuming a spoonful or two of honey, a few dates or a banana after training to replenish this store. This is the only time you can consume fast sugars without getting fat somehow. On the other hand, if you eat a solid meal within half an hour of training, it is not necessarily useful to consume a whey and fast sugar immediately after training.

Glycemic index for fat loss, therefore weight loss

Losing as much fat as possible and limiting excess fat is the main objective if you are going on a dry or caloric deficit diet. You need a healthy diet to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat. To do this, don't just focus on calories but also pay special attention to the glycemic index.

bodybuilding glycemic index

Low GI menu

Breakfast: sprouted cereal muesli, almond milk without added sugar with a dose of whey protein, 1 green tea

Lunch: Radish or cucumber, poultry, vegetable ratatouille

Snack whey protein isolate, 1 dozen cashew nuts, 1 apple or mandarin orange

Dinner: Green salad, smoked salmon and wild rice (basmati rice or brown rice: medium GI) 1 Greek yoghurt without sugar with some blueberries

Need to know your calories and macros to consume : I calculate my calories

Glycemic index and food combinations

The glycemic index of each food varies according to how it is cooked and also according to the combination with other foods.

Indeed it is rare to consume a food alone, and therefore the overall GI will be different.

For example, for a good protein snack, you could eat a ripe banana (medium GI) combined with a source of whey protein (whey isolate) and some oilseeds such as almonds or walnuts. Mixing fatty foods (nuts) or low GI protein foods will slow down digestion and therefore lower the overall glycemic index.

Oatmeal is often used in bodybuilding for breakfast and it actually has a high glycemic index, which is interesting in mass gain for the first meal of the day, as well as after training for better muscle growth.

Beware of confusion!

Don't confuse carbohydrates, the body's main source of energy and a basic component of food, with sugar. Similarly, do not confuse the glycemic index with the glycemic load. While the glycemic index provides information on the quality of carbohydrates, it does not take into account the quantity ingested, unlike the glycemic load, which takes into account both the glycemic index and the quantity swallowed. Be careful with these very similar concepts.

The following table classifies foods by glycemic index. It should be noted that the glycemic index is used to inform us about the propensity of a food to raise or lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, a low glycemic index does not necessarily indicate that the food is good for our health.

Glycemic index table

Foods with low glycemic index GI 0 to 39Foods with average glycemic indexGI 40 to 59Foods with high glycemic indexIG 60 +
Asparagus15Green banana45Baguette70
Carrots30Pineapple45Ripe banana60
Courgettes15Apricot in syrup55Crescent70
Spinach15Kiwi50White wheat flour85
Lawyer10Khaki50Waffle with sugar75
Broccoli15Litchi50Honey60
Eggplant20Coconut45Cooked beans80
Fruits oilseeds15Mango50Lasagne75
Cucumber15Sweet potatoes50Dates70
Mushroom15Papaya55Melon60
Apricots30Apple juice50Potato starch95
Nectarine35Wheat (flour)45Squash75
Grapefruit25Couscous45Doughnuts75
Tangerine30Quinoa flour40Chips70
Pear38Oatmeal40Biscuit70
Fig38Wholemeal pasta50Beer110
Red fruits25Toasted bread45Corn flakes85
Passion fruit30Rye45Chestnut, brown60
Pomegranate35Rice50Brioche70
Apple38Muesli50Watermelon75
Lamb0Lactose40Pizza60
Shrimp0Sushi50Ravioli70
Pork0Surimi50Sweetened rice pudding75
Tuna0Mustard55Sodas70
Veal0Ketchup55Glucose syrup100
Beef0Tomato sauce45Tacos70
Soft-boiled egg0Sorbet40French fries95
Fatty fish0Jerusalem artichoke50Chocolate powder60
Lean fish0Spreads55Pumpkin75
Chicken0Shortbread40Chocolate bread65

Do you want a complete bodybuilding program to follow?


Also read articles:

The ketogenic diet for rapid weight loss

How to make a good dry (weight loss)?

How to shop for bodybuilding?

What is the use of spirulina in bodybuilding?

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3 Comments

  1. very interesting article
    I'm looking forward to the one about the anabolic window that you mentioned in your topic
    what is good about you is that you write texts that everyone can understand without going into scientific theories
    thank you julien

  2. A certain coach says that if you eat high GI foods or do too many cheat meals you can trigger diabetes by dint of
    what do you think?

    1. I think it's because of this kind of coach that you end up depressed and stop working out 🙂
      More seriously, it's not the consumption of high GI foods that is the problem but the overall amount of calories you eat in a week. Generally, the more you cheat, the more you tend to exceed your calories and that becomes a problem in the long run, but if you control your calories and stay reasonable, it won't be a problem. It is the excesses which cause problems it is as for all, to please itself with moderation and all will be well...

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