Glycemic Index.

Using the Glycemic Index for athletic competition.

Not all carbohydrates(carbs) are created equal. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a System that ranks “carbs” from one to one hundred in accordance to how slowly or quickly they break down and turn in simple sugar for the body to use. Foods with a one on the GI are slow to absorb and foods with ratings of one hundred are absorbed very quickly.

In the book “The Glucose Revolution” carbohydrates are described as superior when it comes to giving the body energy. Other energy sources such as proteins and fats are necessary to health, albeit not as readily absorbed in the body as the carbohydrate. As far as the nutrient protein is concerned it’s necessary to build muscles and stabilize blood sugar but, it burns much hotter in the body; making hydration more challenging with regards to athletic competition. Fats are a very dense nutrient and have twice the amount of calories per gram as carbs and proteins; this makes fats much harder for your body to derive energy.

Commonly known as the”Complex” carb this nutrient is relatively low on the GI and is generally said to be a better choice verses that of the “Simple” carbs to be eaten daily. Complex carbohydrates give a slow burning fuel that will sustain your energy levels for activity while the simple carbohydrate’s energy burns fast and needs to be replenished more often.

Both ends of the GI spectrum have a purpose and practical application in athletic training and competition.

The scenero of running a Marathon shows the ideal role of both the simple and complex carb on race day.

You’ve been coached for the last five months and feel that you’ll be able to run a marathon with a personal best time. As the days, weeks and months went by you logged your miles, followed the nutritional guidance of your coach and now it’s a week before the race. Staying focused and disciplined you take your coach’s advice to “carbo load” for the next week.

Making sure to balance your diet with good proteins and fats to heal your body from the months of hard training. Most of your meals contain double portions of complex carbohydrates that you enjoy to eat like rice, oats, Ezekiel Bread, and pastas.

It’s the morning of the race and you wake up early to eat three pieces of toast, a bowl of oatmeal and two bananas. The starting gun goes off in just 90 minutes and you shift your energy sources from very complex to less “complex” with a few slices of watermelon and some green tea with honey. The race begins in 45 minutes and you slowly sip your sports drink in between stretching and running strides.

The sound of the gun is heard and and the marathon is on its way. With the knowledge that your stored energy will deplete as the race continues; your plan is to eat the simple sugar packs that you have in you racing shorts every 60 minutes and drink the sport drinks provided along the way until the end of the race.

You’re plan has prepared you for using both stored energy(complex carbs) and on demand energy(simple carbs) to complete the race. As you walk to see your family and get some clean cloths on you notice the extent of the soreness and fatigue in your body.

The adrenaline, excitement and effort of running a marathon has pushed you past your body’s ability to keep up with the demands of energy you needed. You continue to eat simple sugars by sipping on sports drinks, eating powerbars and other high GI foods to quickly replenish your reserves of energy.

It’s late afternoon now and you’ve taken a shower and are adjusting to the full breadth of soreness and begin feeling less fatigued. Not getting your appetite back, you opt for more complex carbs, some fats and protein to begin the healing process.


The Glycemic Index for carbohydrates: High=60-100+, Medium=45-59, and Low= 1-44 Low G.I. Foods Ezekiel Bread Rice, including Basmati, Brown, or my Favorite “Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice” Rye bread Beans like..White Northern or Black Bean Fruits including Plums, Bananas Cherries Organic Agave Nectar(Very low GI of 12) *Read labels to make sure it’s Organic and Raw and doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup.

Intermediate G.I. Foods Wheat Pastas Apples/Oranges Sweet Potatoes Cantaloupe and pears Mangoes Pineapples

High G.I. Foods White Potatoes Bagels Stone-ground whole wheat Rice Pastas White Bread Gatorade Endurance Dates

The Book “The Glucose Revolution” by ~Jennie Brand-Miller & Kaye Foster-Powell serves to be a good reference guide with regards to athletic training and competition. has almost 2,500 individual food items

Experiment, tweak, revisit long-held beliefs. Make changes.


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