Firefighter Nutrition- The Glycemic Index

Today’s post is important not only for the Fire Rescue Athlete but for anyone trying to stay strong and lean.  I often get nutrition related questions from people about the “best” foods to eat for staying lean.  These questions prompted some research and this post.

In case you didn’t know, most diet programs revolve around the Glycemic index.

This scale has been developed to help you understand how the various carbohydrate rich foods that you eat act upon the body and which will be best to eat for a lean body composition and muscle mass gains.

If you were unaware of this fact, then you need to learn about it immediately. And for those of you who already knew that, you still might learn something from this post.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Glycemic Index is all about so you can see why this is one thing that you’ll want to be paying close attention to.

The Glycemic Index–How It Works And Why You Should Pay Attention To It

First let’s address how the glycemic index works. The glycemic index is rating scale that is based off 100% pure glucose, which is given the rating of 100. All other foods are then compared to how glucose affects the blood sugar levels after consumption and rated accordingly.

Those that produce a slower digestion response in the body thus producing a lower degree of blood sugar spike are given a value of less than 100, while those that produce a faster blood glucose spike are given a value greater than 100.

In addition to knowing the glucose index rating for the food, it’s also helpful to take into account the glycemic load of a particular food as this one also takes into account how much food you’re eating as well.

It’s important to pay attention to these two factors because the speed in which the carbohydrates become available to the body cells after release into the blood stream is going to influence factors such as muscle building as well as fat loss.

Eating the wrong foods at the wrong times and you may not be seeing the results you were hoping for.

The Glycemic Index And Its Effects On Building Muscle and Weight Loss

So what do you need to know with regards to how the glycemic index impacts your muscle building diet plan?

What you need to keep in mind is that immediately after the workout, you’re going to want to boost blood glucose levels as high as possible, as this is what will drive the glucose into the muscle cells.

As a result, you’ll experience faster recovery and faster rates of lean muscle growth.

Later on in the day however, when you are out of the post-workout period, it will be important that you are focusing on keeping your blood sugar levels as controlled as possible as this is what will decrease your chance of storing excess body fat and weight. The end result is that you will be leaner and less likely to gain fat.

Using The Glycemic Index To Plan Your Meals

So now that you know what the glycemic index is, how can you use this to time your meals? The main thing to remember is that you should be focusing on having your simple carbohydrates (sugars) that are high in the glycemic index scale immediately after a workout. This is when the blood glucose spike will be helpful and will yield better overall results for you.

At other times of the day the focus should be on only those foods that are low on the glycemic index scale. These will be the ones that are going to have minimal impact on blood sugar levels and help to reduce the blood sugar response you get.

Here is a sample reference chart for you to use to guide your choices:
Low GI (55 or less) – most fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, fructose
Medium GI (55-69) – whole wheat products, basmati rice, sweet potato, sucrose, baked potatoes
High GI (70 and above) – white bread, most white rice, corn flakes, glucose, maltose, maltodextrins

To find the GI number for any food check out

For guidelines on eating lean in the firehouse (or any house) join the Fire Rescue Fitness Nation and get the SOPs to Eating Lean in the Firehouse and the FRF 28-day Quickstart Workout Program.
Stay Safe and Healthy,
A. Zamzow

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