Understanding the Gycemic Index

High glycemic index (GI) foods release sugar into the bloodstream quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar. Low GI foods release sugar into the bloodstream slowly and do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. High GI foods tend to lead to weight gain and are low in fiber. These foods are easy to overeat and encourage a rapid return of hunger.

Low GI foods are less likely to store as fat and maintains more stable energy levels. Low GI foods:

  • reduce the hunger urges by delaying the rate of absorption.
  • cause lower insulin levels that make fat easier to burn
  • reduce the risks of diabetes and heart disease

Interesting research is appearing on low glycemic diets as a way to manage pediatric obesity. A study from the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that children on a low GI diet did better than children on a low-fat diet. Those on the low GI diet had better weight loss results and what was most striking was that this group did not need a reduction in serving sizes. They were able to eat until fullness and still lose weight.

Here are some guidelines for finding foods with a low or moderate GI:

  • Most fruits and vegetables have a low GI. Bananas and potatoes have a high GI and should be limited
  • Choose beans, legumes, soybeans.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry and seafood. Make sure that they are not getting too big a proportion of these foods.
  • Look for whole grain breads, other whole grains, and pastas with more protein content.

Low-Glycemic Food Choices

Breads Pick:

  • 100% whole grain breads
  • whole wheat pita bread
  • pumpernickel
  • rye
  • sourdough

Cereals Pick:

  • All-Bran
  • Cream of Wheat
  • muesli (watch for those with added fat)
  • Multi-Bran Chex
  • Quaker Oats Oat Bran
  • old-fashioned oatmeal (better than quick or instant)
  • Post Shredded Wheat
  • Rice Bran
  • Special K

Grains Pick:

  • pearled barley
  • buckwheat (kasha)
  • bulgur
  • couscous
  • oat bran and rice bran (sprinkle on cereal; add to baked goods recipes)
  • rye
  • basmati rice
  • brown rice
  • long-grain white rice
  • spaghetti
  • fettuccine
  • vermicelli
  • star pastina
  • ravioli, meat filled

Dairy Pick:

  • yogurt, nonfat
  • milk

Fruits Pick:

  • apples
  • apricots
  • fruit cocktail (in “light” syrup or “natural” without the added sugar)
  • grapefruit
  • cherries
  • green grapes
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • oranges
  • papaya
  • peach
  • pear
  • plum


  • soybeans
  • black beans
  • blackeyed peas
  • chick peas
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • lima beans
  • navy beans
  • peas (dried, split, yellow or green)

Snacks and Desserts Pick:

  • custard
  • oatmeal cookie
  • air-popped popcorn
  • pudding, sugar-free
  • USANA Fibergy Lemon Bar
  • USANA Peanut Crunch Bar
  • USANA Berry Bar

Drinks Pick:

  • USANA Fibergy Drinks
  • USANA Nutrimeal Drinks
  • USANA Soyamax

To order the USANA drinks and bars, please click here.