The glycemic index list of foods (with GI chart!)
The glycemic index chart shows ranked foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar after eating. This ranking system was developed by Dr. David Jenkins in 1980. In this article, I'll break down the glycemic index list of foods to outline what foods fall under which category and answer questions like, "what is the glycemic index of a banana"?
One important thing to keep in mind as you learn glycemic index chart and follow a low glycemic diet, is that you don't really have to consult the glycemic index each time you are choosing foods to eat.
To get the full benefits of low glycemic eating, you need to ensure you're pairing all carbs with a healthy fat and healthy protein.
The glycemic index of foods simply lets you know the value, but it's impact on blood sugar will change depending on what else you eat the food with and how it's cooked. A low glycemic diet is flexible, and I like to think of it as a game of mix & match!
What is the Glycemic Index?
The GI measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates are divided into two groups: simple and complex.
- Simple carbs, such as those found in fruit, milk, and white bread, break down easily into sugars.
- Complex carbs, such as those in whole grains, beans, and brown rice, take longer to digest and release energy.
Why should I care about the glycemic index?
It's hard to think of a biomarker that is more important to longevity than blood sugar. High blood sugar is associated with pre-diabetes, diabetes, and a number of other chronic conditions like PCOS, menopause, and insulin resistance.
High blood sugar affects the health of so many of us. About 13 percent of adults in the United States live with diabetes and 34.5 percent have pre-diabetes. This is close to 50 percent.
Luckily, incorporating low glycemic or blood sugar friendly foods into your diet is not difficult, and this article covers the glycemic index list of foods to help educate you and get you going in the right direction. Keep reading to see our complete glycemic index chart.
"For people who are struggling to manage their weight, or their blood sugar levels, eating foods that have a low glycemic index is especially important, but choosing low glycemic foods is generally a good idea for all of us." — Maya Adam, MD. Lecturer, Stanford School of Medicine
Which carbohydrates are high on the glycemic index? (High GI)
So, let's get to it. There are two main categories of foods based on their GI values: low GI and high GI.
Low GI foods are those that have a GI value below 55. These foods tend to take longer to digest and release energy into the bloodstream. They also provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day.
High GI foods have a GI value above 70. These foods cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels after eating, so the body needs to spend extra energy processing them.
If you eat a lot of high-glycemic foods, you might find yourself feeling tired, irritable, bloated, or even gaining weight. In fact, research shows that people who consume a diet with a high GI tend to gain more weight than those who eat a lower-GI diet.
Here's a list of foods high on glycemic index as well as their GI value (56+) — Glycemic Index Chart
Cereals, Breads, Grains
Fruits and Veggies
- Watermelon (72)
- Carrot (71)
- Pumpkin (75)
- Baked potato (85)
- Corn (59)
- Beet (64)
- Parsnip (97)
- Pineapple (66)
- Raisins (64)
Snacks and other
- Rice cake (82)
- Tortilla Chips (74)
- Pretzel (83)
- Corn chips (72)
Wait, whole wheat bread and white bread are both high GI?
As you can see from the list of high glycemic index foods above, white bread and whole wheat bread are both high on the list.
That said, whole wheat and whole grain bread are a better option as they contain more nutrition and a lot more fiber, which again, keeps you fuller longer and slows down the digestion process.
Which carbohydrates have low glycemic index values? (Low GI)
Low-Glycemic Carbs (LGC) are carbohydrates that break down slowly in our bodies, which helps us feel full for longer periods of time. LGC also cause less spikes in blood sugar levels, which means that they won’t give you an energy crash later on.
A diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other low GI foods will help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Here's a list of foods low on glycemic index as well as their GI value (55 and under) — Glycemic Index Chart
Cereals, Breads, Grains
Fruits and Veggies
- Bananas (53)
- Apple (36)
- Blueberries (30)
- Cherries (22)
- Sweet potato (54)
- Tomato (38)
- Kiwi (52)
- Orange (43)
- Strawberries (32)
- Pear (36)
- Peach (28)
- Yam (51)
Snacks and other
- Popcorn (55)
- Chocolate (49)
- Peanuts (14)
Why choose low glycemic for weight loss?
To reduce cravings, keep you full longer, and keep blood sugar stable.
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that people who ate a diet rich in low GI foods lost weight faster than those who followed a higher GI diet. This is because low GI foods cause less of an insulin response, which helps control appetite and cravings.
It's simple and smart
When you finally learn what to eat, when to eat, and why to eat, you'll be able to make smart choices no matter where you are—dining out at a restaurant or eating at home.
It's sustainable and lifelong
The low glycemic diet is a super simple and doable diet to follow for the rest of your life. So much so that it's not just a diet, it becomes a lifestyle. It simply becomes your way of eating.
Ready for the next step?
If you're ready for the next step in your weight loss and health journey, Well + Easy offers a sustainable and practical approach to the low glycemic diet through our membership: Well + Easy Living. Check it out and join us!
Related reading: Naturally lower blood sugar with food