CARB RULES: GLYCEMIC LOAD

By Rick Collins, JD, CSCS, and James Villepigue, CSCS

It is too simplistic to claim that all carbohydrates are bad for us. As in the case with fats, not all carbs are equal. Eating a diet containing too much of the wrong carbohydrates sets a guy up for a lifetime of disease and a basement MaleScale™ score. To distinguish the good carbs from the ugly, an “index” was created as a method of ranking carbohydrates based on their effect on the blood sugar (glucose) levels of our bodies. Carbs that take time to break down and release glucose in the blood slowly—“low-glycemic” carbs—have low glycemic index values. Carbs that break down quickly in the digestive process – “high-glycemic carbs” — release glucose quickly into the bloodstream.

After a meal of high-glycemic carbs, and a rapid rise in blood glucose levels, your pancreas releases a surge of the hormone insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone that shuttles sugar out of the blood. Because the sugar is typically directed to fat cells, insulin spikes are associated with fat storage. For added fun, once insulin makes the blood sugar low again, your body gets the impression that it’s time to have another meal! A high intake of refined carbs, including white bread, white rice, and pasta, perpetuates a vicious cycle of sugar rushes and crashes and, consequently, a dramatic increase in body fat.

The Fuel Rules of carbohydrate consumption are pretty simple. Avoid packaged, processed carbohydrates and junk foods. Those are empty calories with no useful nutrition. Consume high-glycemic carbohydrates sparingly (as explained in Alpha male Challenge, they are best to consume just before and/or after an Alpha Wave Basic Training session), and avoid the highly refined kinds (like white bread and white rice) completely.

According to Dr. Rob Thompson, author of The Glycemic Load Diet, “The total glycemic load of the starches in the average American’s diet is more than 20 times that of any other food including sugar and candy. That means if you eliminate flour products, potatoes and rice—even if you compensate by eating more of other foods—your glycemic load and the amount of insulin your body has to make will be a fraction of what it was before.” Here’s Dr. Thompson’s handy glycemic guide for your carbs:

Food Item Description Typical American Serving Glycemic Load
Lab Standard      
White Bread 30g – 1 slice 1 1/16 oz 100
Fruit:      
Strawberries
Apricot
Grapefruit
Plum
Kiwi Fruit
Peach
Grapes
Pineapple
Watermelon
Pear
Mango
Orange
Apple
Banana
Raisins
Figs
Dates
1 cup
1 med.
1 half
1 med.
1 med.
1 med.
1 cup
1-3/4″ slice
1 c. cubes
1 med.
1/2 cup
1 med.
1 med.
1 med.
2 tbsp.
3 med.
5 med.
5-1/2 oz
2 oz
4-1/2 oz
3 oz
3 oz
4 oz
2-1/2 oz
3 oz
5-1/2 oz
6 oz
3 oz
6 oz
5-1/2 oz
3-1/4 oz
1 oz
2 oz
1-1/2 oz
13
24
32
36
43
47
47
50
52
57
57
71
78
81
133
151
298
Vegetables:      
Lettuce
Spinach
Cucumber
Mushrooms
Asparagus
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1/2 cup
4 spears
2-1/2 oz
2 1/2 oz
6 oz
2 oz
3 oz
< 15
< 15
< 15
< 15
< 15