Low G.I. Foods
Intermediate G.I. Foods
55 to 70
High GI Foods
above 70 (Glucose is the standard at 100)
There are times when low G.I. foods provide
an advantage and times when high G.I. foods are better. For best performance
a serious athlete needs to learn about which foods have high and low G.I.
factors and when to eat them.
The carbohydrate we eat is stored in the
body in the form of Glycogen in the muscles and in the liver.. A small
amount circulates as glucose in the blood. When exercising at high intensities
the main fuels are blood glucose and muscle glycogen. The body also can
use fats at low intensities but loses this ability when high intensity
is required. The bigger your stores of glucose and glycogen, the longer
an athlete can exercise before fatigue sets in. Maintaining high glycogen
stores is the key to maintaining quality training performance on a daily
The beneficial effects of low G.I. foods
Low G.I. foods are digested slowly and
can remain in the small intestine for hours after consumption. The benefit
of this is a slow and sustained release of glucose that occurs even during
High G.I foods release their glucose too
quickly and consequently produce rapid changes in blood sugar instead of
a more stable blood sugar values like Low G.I. foods.
The Pre-event meal
Low G.I. foods are best before an event
and taken about 2hours before (to allow time for the food to clear the
stomach). It is best to select foods that also do not cause stomach cramps
and flatulence (These are usually ones with high fibre).
Consume 1g of Carbohydrate for every Kg
of body weight.
1-2 hours before the start of the event.
Examples of Good Low GI foods for a 50kg
600g (two and a half cups) GI=42
250ml GI about 40
3 small medium GI=38
Heavy grain breads
3 slices of Burgen honey oat-bran GI=31
During an event
Aim for 30g of Carbohydrate and 500ml of
water per hour
Examples of foods that are suitable:
Sports Drinks 500-600ml per hour - Gatorade,
12 jelly beans + 500ml of water per hour
Honey sandwich on high GI Bread eg wonderwhite
GI=80 + 500ml water per hour
Recovery (after the event)
Muscles are more sensitive to glucose in
the first hour after exercise, so a concerted effort should be made
to get as many high G.I foods in as soon as possible.
Aim to consume 1 - 1.5g of Carbohydrate
per Kg of body weight each 2 hours after exercise.
Examples for a 50 Kg athlete:
3 slices of a High G.I bread eg Wonderwhite
Rice bubbles - one and a half cups + 175ml
low fat milk GI=89
Jelly Beans 25
Sports Drinks 800ml GI=75
Lucozade 300ml original GI=95
To maximize Glycogen replenishment after
Ingest carbohydrate as soon as you can after
the event and maintain a high carbohydrate intake for the next 24 hours.
Consume 10g of Carbohydrate per Kg of body
weight over the 24 hours following prolonged exercise.
Choose high G.I foods in the replenishment
Alcohol delays glycogen re-synthesis so avoid
it. It can also lower blood glucose levels.
All athlete should ensure that they have a
high intake of carbohydrates as it easy in hard training to
become glycogen depleted which will decrease endurance
and exercise performance. An athlete in heavy training should
consume 500-800g of carbohydrates each day. This is much higher
than the typical adult who eats only 240g a day on average.
Athletes should aim to lower the overall
G.I. of their meals by shifting their choice toward choosing to consume
more low G.I. foods. There are many benefits of doing this:
Usually an athlete will consume less fat on
a lower G.I diet as they are less hungry.
Eating a low GI breakfast will maintain higher
blood sugar until lunchtime (many breakfast cereals are high G.I.)
Low GI Meals
Breakfast (Foods and their G.I.)
Fruit Juice and Fruits
Apple Juice 40
Cereals (Many common ones such as
Rice Bubbles are 80+)
All-Bran Fruit & Oats 41
Special K 54
Bread (Most white bread are 70+)
Burgen Soy-Linseed 19
Burgen Oat Bran & Honey 31
Burgen Mixed Grain 34
Multi-Grain 9 Grain 43
Burgen Fruit-Loaf 44
Ploughmans Wholegrain 47
Continental Fruit loaf 47
Fruit salad with low fat yogurt
Fettucini low fat 32
Thai noodles with vegetables 36
Burgen bread sandwiches
Banana smoothie and low fat high
Low GI Foods
Basmati Rice 58 (Normal White Rice
Sweet potato 54
Sweet corn 55
Legumes are all low
Pasta mostly 37-55
Oatmeal biscuits 55
Baked beans 48
Skim milk 32
Yogurt low fat 33
Yogurt low fat (artificially sweetened)
Red lentils (boiled) 26
Toasted muesli 43
Tomato soup 38
Possibly surprizing higher GI Foods
Bran Flakes 74
Gluten free bread 90
Calrose white rice 87
Rice Cakes 82
Tofu Frozen dessert 115
Rye Bread 75+
Instant potato 83 (New potatoes are lower
and then it depends on how they are cooked)
Baked potato 83
Steamed potato 65
Microwaved potato 83
The ideas presented are from the book:
The G.I. Factor by Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, Kay Foster-Powell,
Associate Professor Stephen Colagiuri and Doctor Anthony Leeds.
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