Tips for lowering the glycaemic index (GI) of your meals!

Published 27 Jun 2022 • By Candice Salomé

Not all foods have the same effect on our bodies. The higher the glycaemic index (GI) of a meal, the higher the blood sugar spike and, consequently, the greater the amount of insulin released.

So what is the glycaemic index? How can you lower the GI of your meals? Which foods should be favoured and which should be avoided?

Discover all our tips in this article!

Tips for lowering the glycaemic index (GI) of your meals!

What is the glycaemic index (GI)?

The glycaemic index was developed in 1981 and was originally intended for people with diabetes. Until this discovery, it was thought that all carbohydrates had the same impact on blood sugar levels and doctors recommended that diabetic patients should not eat any carbohydrates at all. However, it is still true that eating food high in carbohydrates will cause a spike in blood sugar levels within 30 minutes of consuming this food.

The glycaemic index measures the impact of food on the increase in blood sugar levels (the way the body digests, absorbs and uses different carbohydrates to provide the energy the body needs).

A classification of carbohydrates has therefore been developed, according to their impact on blood sugar levels. The higher the carbohydrate-induced hyperglycaemia, the higher the associated GI value.

This classification has enabled people affected by diabetes to reintroduce carbohydrates into their diet, giving preference to those with a low GI.

Low glycaemic index foods (<55) 

Pasta al dente, lentils, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, plain yoghurt, white beans, dark chocolate, etc.

Medium glycaemic index foods (between 55 and 70)

Basmati rice, ripe bananas, multigrain bread, pineapple, well-cooked pasta, white sugar, etc.

High glycaemic index foods (>70) 

Bread (white or wholemeal), boiled potatoes, most breakfast cereals, mashed potatoes, instant white rice, brown rice cooked in a large amount of water, etc.

The glycaemic index value is not fixed: it varies according to the ripeness of fruit or vegetables (the riper the fruit, the higher the GI), the way the food is cooked, its structural integrity (the more refined it is, the higher the GI), etc.

In addition, it is important to take into account the context in which food is consumed. If it is eaten on its own or as part of a meal, for example, as the GI value will also vary in this case.  

How can you lower the GI of your meals? 

Start your meals with a grapefruit or salad dressed with 4 teaspoons of wine or cider vinegar

Acidic foods such as vinegar, grapefruit and lemon can help prevent blood sugar spikes. This simple trick can help you reduce your blood sugar levels by 30%.

Add "good fats" to your starters: oilseeds, olive oil, a few pieces of goat or sheep cheese

Fats eaten at the beginning of a meal slow down the absorption of carbohydrates by lowering your blood sugar levels. This is all the more beneficial if they are omega-3 fatty acids (rapeseed, soya or walnut oil, mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.).

Add legumes to your meals

Glucose is more difficult to absorb in the presence of legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, etc.) because of their high fibre content.

Limit the cooking of your food

The GI of some foods can change dramatically depending on how and when they are cooked.

Pasta, for example, cooked al dente will have a much lower GI than overcooked pasta.

Similarly, steamed potatoes have a much lower GI than mashed or baked potatoes.

Raw carrots have a glycaemic index of 20, while cooked carrots have a glycaemic index of 40. So opt for grated carrots!

Eat high GI foods at the end of your meal

According to research, by doing so you reduce your demand for insulin by almost 50%.

Nevertheless, fruit should be avoided at the end of a meal. They tend to ferment and disturb digestion and assimilation.

Instead, eat a few squares of chocolate or a yoghurt.

Add cinnamon or ginger to your dishes

Cinnamon is a hypoglycaemic spice. This means that it lowers blood sugar levels. So don't hesitate to add a few pinches of cinnamon to your yoghurt, porridge or fruit!

Ginger is known for its antioxidant effects but not only for that. It inhibits the enzymes involved in the digestion of carbohydrates and increases the release and sensitivity of insulin. It helps muscle cells take up glucose and therefore helps reduce blood sugar levels. So don't hesitate to add ginger to your dishes!

Choose soluble fibre over insoluble fibre

There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fibre is transformed into a gel-like substance in the stomach and the small intestine, which slows down digestion and therefore the absorption of glucose. This prevents blood sugar spikes.

Insoluble fibres, on the other hand, do not slow down the absorption of glucose but feed the intestinal flora.

Both types of fibre have health benefits, but when it comes to reducing the GI of your meals, it is better to choose soluble fibre, which is naturally found in apples, prunes, oats and legumes.

Finally, don't hesitate to go for a 10 or 15 minute walk at the end of your meal. This activates digestion and uses up some of the sugar consumed during the meal. That way it is assimilated almost immediately and is not stored by the body.

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Take care!


avatar Candice Salomé

Author: Candice Salomé, Health Writer

Candice is a content creator at Carenity and specialises in writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of women's health, well-being and sport. 

Candice holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more


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