Safe Low Glycemic Snacking

A reader wrote asking: “Are there alternative ways to snack, other than eating tasteless “sugar-free” sweets, that don’t play havoc with my blood sugar?”

Of course, I told him about low glycemic foods, but for a scientific explanation of why low glycemic foods are best I turned to Michael Bryer-Ash MD, medical director of the UCLA Diabetes Medical Center for the answer.

He replied: “Even “sugar-free” products can contain carbohydrates (“carbs”) that may raise blood sugar levels rapidly. It all depends on the glycemic index (GI) and total amount of carbs in the “sugar-free” snack.

“The glycemic index” is a measure of how a food, or combination of foods, acts to increase glucose in your blood. Pure sugar has a rating of 100. Foods with GIs above 70, once generally called “simple sugars,” raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower GI ratings.

“Fresh fruits such as apples, nectarines and pears are the best sweet treats for people with diabetes or other dietary sugar concerns because of their lower Glycemic Index rating and high-fiber content. This high fiber content is what slows digestion, thus inhibiting rapid blood sugar rises,” continued Dr. Bryer-Ash.

Regardless of the carb source, at least 90 percent of all carbs convert to sugar (glucose) in the body within 15 minutes to two hours after ingestion and your blood glucose level changes accordingly,” he points out. That’s why people with diabetes are advised to test their blood sugar levels two hours after eating to determine the maximum effect of the carbohydrate consumed. High glycemic foods cause the blood glucose level to reach a peak anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Approximately one hour after ingestion of carbohydrates, the blood sugar level begins a rapid decline. Even in healthy people this produces a low that could result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

A much better snack choice includes a source of protein. Combining protein with a low glycemic carbohydrate will help the blood sugar level remain stable for several hours. Choosing foods containing a high percentage of fiber are an excellent way to balance your diet and maintain your energy level. The selection of low carb low glycemic foods will keep you strong all day long.

Posted by on January 21st, 2009

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