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Posts Tagged ‘glycemic index’

  1. Sourdough Bread: Delicious, Versatile and Low GI


    June 20, 2014 by Johanna Burani

    photo35_SnapseedI recently visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York to attend an artisan bread-making class (spoiler: there was a lot of white flour in that teaching kitchen!). My main goal for this experience was to learn bread-making techniques and the food science behind them from the professionals, in this case, Chef Juergen Temme, CMB. To my delight, I reached my goal – and then some. Chef described the ingredients and procedures for five different types of dough, including sourdough, the one low GI white bread out there. I was “all ears.”

    The GI experts explain that acidic foods empty more slowly from the stomach, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. I asked Chef what were the pH values (degree of acidity; the lower the number, the more acidic) of the breads we were baking that day. All of them were made from white flour and all had a pH between 5.0 and 6.5, except for the sourdough bread: its pH was 3.6!

    This is why sourdough bread is a good bread choice for anyone attempting to control blood sugar, weight, and energy. The fuel it turns into lasts longer, preventing blood sugar spikes and helping to ward off hunger. And did I mention how delicious it tastes straight out of the oven?

  2. You Mean I Can Eat Pasta!


    March 6, 2014 by Johanna Burani


    No doubt about it: carbs elevate your blood sugar level.  That’s what they’re supposed to do.  The body breaks down the carbohydrate in food into readily-available fuel (glucose) more easily than it does for protein or fat.  How quickly that fuel enters the blood from the gut determines how much and for how long that energy will last. keep reading »

  3. Meal Planning with Good Carbs: Breakfast


    March 20, 2013 by Johanna Burani










    Good – Better – Best!

    Here are three breakfast meals.  The Cheerios breakfast is good : it contains no saturated or trans fats and provides some protein, vitamins and minerals.  The Raisin Bran breakfast is better: in addition to the nutrients in the Cheerios meal, it adds a wider variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as more fiber.  The scrambled egg with rye toast breakfast is the bestit is naturally nutrient-dense and produces a naturally low glycemic response.

    Calorically these meals are equal to each other.  GI-wise they are not: 60 (moderate) for the Cheerios meal, 52 (low) for the Raisin Bran meal, 49 (low) for the egg and rye toast meal.

    The most dramatic difference is in the glycemic loads:  30 (high) for the Cheerios meal, 25 (high) for the Raisin Bran meal and 16 (low) for the eggs and rye toast meal. Glycemic load (GL) measures how high glucose will rise in our blood after eating a specific amount of a specific type of carbohydrate.  In these three breakfasts, the amount of carbohydrate was identical; it was the type of carbohydrate that made the difference.

    What does “glycemic load” actually mean in day-to-day living terms?

    1 GL unit = 1 gram of glucose entering the bloodstream.

    So, in day-to-day living terms, the amounts of sugar released into the blood after eating these three breakfasts are:

    CHEERIOS               30 grams or 7 1/2 teaspoons

    RAISIN BRAN           25 grams or 6 1/4 teaspoons

    EGGS + RYE TOAST  16 grams or 4 teaspoons

    Good.  Better. Best!

    Some other good carb breakfast ideas:

    • old fashioned/steel cut oats cooked in low fat/fat free milk, sliced peaches or berries, with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and cinnamon
    • rye toast with natural peanut butter and all-fruit jam
    • melted low fat cheese and low salt ham sandwich on pumpernickel
    • 0% fat Greek yogurt, Bran Buds, sliced pears or blueberries, with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and cardamom
    • fruit smoothie made with fat free yogurt and/or fat free milk, frozen cherries or berries, vanilla, cocoa powder

    Tomorrow’s breakfast – will it be good, better, or best?

  4. A Low GI Success Story: Barbara


    January 28, 2013 by Johanna Burani

    Barbara is an up-beat, energetic, retired hairdresser, tireless hand crafter, and devoted mother and grandmother.  She enjoys taking long walks and recently started ice skating again. She is also a fabulous cook and an outstanding baker!  Although of German descent, Barbara learned to make her husband’s favorite Hungarian recipes, which she quickly learned to love herself!  Close your eyes and start eating some of Barbara’s specialties and you’ll feel like you’re eating in a prestigious Hungarian restaurant or pastry shop in a central square in Budapest.

    Hungarian cuisine is built on lots of butter, sour cream and fatty meats.  What was a pleasure for her palate became a nightmare for her health, especially when her family physician informed her that, weighing 213 pounds,  she was obese and had pre-diabetes.  Barbara is a take-charge kind of person and it took her only a short time to develop a game plan: she would eliminate all her sausages, breads, noodles, rice, ice cream and sweet desserts.  She was sure this approach would drop her weight and her blood sugar levels.

    Indeed Barbara started to lose weight but she didn’t lose her desire for her ethnic dishes.  She lost 15 pounds in that first month after her doctor’s office visit.  She became frustrated and, either enjoyed her foods and then felt guilty for eating them, or just didn’t savor the tasteless foods she thought she should be eating.  Her changes weren’t going to work long-term. She had to find another way around the problem. 

    At her doctor’s suggestion, Barbara sought nutrition counseling.  She learned how to prepare well-balanced meals.  She practiced modifying her traditional recipes to reduce the fat.  She also learned about something totally new to her.  She discovered that she didn’t need to eliminate carbohydrates, she just needed to understand which ones worked best for weight loss and blood sugar control.  This “something” was called the Glycemic Index.  The more she learned about this idea, the more it made sense to her and the more invigorated she was to try it out.  She perfected some of the low GI recipes she earmarked in her copy of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, 2nd ed. and this confident lady was on her way!

    Four years have passed since Barbara started her low GI way of life.  Her blood sugar status has normalized without any medication.  She has lost and continues to maintain a 40-pound weight loss.  She smiles broadly when she says that she now weighs 15 pounds less than she did on her wedding day, 48 years ago!

    Fruit TrayBarbara’s words:  “I’m so confident that this way of eating is for life that every piece of clothing that gets too big for me goes out my door and into a new home.  This was never about dieting to be thin.  I wanted to eat to be healthy.  It’s been fun to finally know that I can be thinner and not feel like I’m on a diet.  When an apple is more appealing to me than a brownie, I know I have really changed!”

  5. What Is the Glycemic Index?


    September 16, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    You may have heard or read about the glycemic index (GI) before, but do you really know what it is? what it measures? what it means?

    Canadian scientists invented the glycemic index in the early 1980s to measure how quickly carbohydrate-rich foods are digested in the gut.  In other words, the GI measures how long it takes a carb to become glucose and drop into the bloodstream.  The researchers tested real foods on real people – no mice or test tubes, just normal people – and they came up with real numbers.

    Think of any carb: a slice of bread or pizza, an Oreo cookie, a peach.  Each of these foods has certain properties that will always belong to them.  A peach, for example, will always be round, “peachy” in color, juicy and fibrous.  And, because it’s been tested, we know it has a GI value of 28 (low).  Its GI value helps to describe the peach as much as its other characteristics.

    The actual glycemic index starts at zero and goes to 100 and is divided into three sections: LOW (0-55), MODERATE (56-69) and HIGH (70+).  A peach has a low GI value (28) and that means it is slowly released as glucose from the gut into the blood.

    There are labs in Canada, Australia, Europe and other places that follow the same strict World Health Organization-approved protocol for GI testing.  To date their studies have deciphered the GI values of more than 2000 foods.  These values were most recently published in 2008 as The International Tables of GI and GL Values.  GI values also may be found at or

    To summarize:

    • What is the glycemic index?   A numerical chart of carbohydrates.
    • What does it measure?   How quickly carbs are digested in the gut and released as glucose into the blood.
    • What does it mean?  The GI tells us if a carb, once digested, enters the blood quickly or slowly.  This information can have a profound impact on health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease and weight management.

  6. The Glycemic Index Tells Us What the Body Already Knows


    September 10, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    Today NPR highlighted a recent study conducted by David Ludwig, MD of Children’s Hospital in Boston that illustrated the appetite-suppressing benefits of a well balanced low glycemic index (GI) diet.  As one of the study’s participants explained, high GI carbs just did not sustain him and he was hungry soon after polishing off a large bowl of mashed potatoes.  This is because high GI carbs (like mashed potatoes) are quickly digested in the gut.  This causes first a surge of sugar to be released into the blood followed by a rapid drop in sugar levels from all the insulin the pancreas released in response to the mashed potatoes.  This roller coaster results in hunger, low energy and causes the body to more readily store calories as fat.

    Not all nutrition professionals look kindly on the concept of the glycemic index.  As the dietitian who was interviewed for this segment mentioned, there are many variables that may impact on a food’s GI value: the ripeness of a fruit, the under- or overcooking of starches like pasta or rice, the presence or absence of other nutrients in the gut along with the carb (fat, protein, soluble fiber).  Thanks to decades of valid GI testing by researchers in many parts of the world, we know these facts to be true.  However, this is indeed how we eat.  Our pasta at dinner tonight was cooked.  The length of time it stayed in the water, the fat-protein-fiber content of the other foods on that same dish are factors that influenced the rate at which our gut is turning that pasta into glucose and releasing it into our blood supply.  The glycemic index is telling us what the body already knows!

Gushers vs Tricklers

"Gushers" are quickly-digested carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and fuel appetite.

"Tricklers" are slowly-digested carbohydrates that are gradually released into the bloodstream and sustain satiety. These are the good carbs.

Johanna Burani
Nutrition Works LLC
Morristown, NJ, USA

Expert in individualized, low-glycemic index (low GI) meal planning.

This book tells the complete story


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