I might be over generalising it, but yes, when it comes to Muscle gain and Fat Loss, Glycemic Index is everything. Building a great physique is not just about Calories in or calories out. It’s a technique where you fully make use of the survival mechanisms of the body to manipulate hormones through food to induce anabolic environment and at the same time make sure to increase the rate of Lipolysis, so that to avoid gaining fat while you are looking to build muscle.
Because trust me, honestly if you ignore either of these strategies you will end at either extreme ends of the spectrum:
- You will either build muscle but also gain a lot of fat
- Or you will end up losing fat, only to realise that you lost all of that hard earned muscle.
So how do you prevent that? By recognizing the importance of Glycemic Index in your diet and using it to full advantage to achieve your dream physique and six pack abs.
The Critical Relation Between Glycemic Index and Insulin Hormone
For those of you who are not aware of the all important role of Insulin Hormone in building muscle and losing fat, here it is.
The Insulin hormone is secreted by pancreas and is mainly responsible for shuttling nutrients especially glycogen into the muscles. This glycogen is further used as source of energy for your workouts and general day to day activities. But there’s a limit as to how much glycogen our body can store.
Now there are two sites, where Glycogen is mainly stored: Muscles and Liver. In normal conditions our body can store upto 300 gms of Glycogen in muscles and liver collectively. The amount of Insulin spike will decide the amount of blood sugar levels. When you eat carbohydrates it gets converted to glucose or sugars which enters the blood stream. now insulin hormone will help to shuttle all this excess glucose to be stored in the form of glycogen for further energy usage.
But where does Glycemic Index comes into play here?
Everything related to Insulin is controlled by the Glycemic Index of foods you eat. The glycemic index or glycemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. A value of 100 represents the standard, an equivalent amount of pure glucose. Too technical?
Let me simplify! Glycemic Index of food will decide the amount of Insulin response that your body will elicit. Which means consuming high glycemic index foods will cause a High Insulin Spike and intake of low glycemic index foods will cause a much stable Insulin Spike.
Now here it gets interesting when it comes to building muscle and fat loss. The thing is when your muscle glycogen levels are low let’s say after your workout, a high glycemic index food like Dextrose, will elicit a high insulin spike which will immediately shuttle the glycogen along with other nutrients in the muscles and induces anabolic environment.
But as already discussed about limitations of amount of glycogen that can be stored in muscles, now what if your glycogen levels are already full? All the excess glucose will be floating in your bloodstream and imagine you elicit a High Insulin Spike by consuming High Glycemic Index Foods. Since the muscles cannot store all that excess blood sugar and simultaneously there’s high amounts of insulin as well, your body will have no choice but to shuttle of that glycogen to fat stores and convert them into excess fat.
Not only this, if this process is repeated for a long period of time there’s a big chance that the individual will be suffering from something known as Insulin Resistance where the Insulin receptors the muscle cells will become less Insulin Sensitive and less responsive towards Insulin. What it does is, poor muscle glycogen storage forcing all that blood sugar to be stored as extra fat leading to complications like Diabetes, Obesity, etc.
How to make use of Glycemic Index to build Muscle and Lose Fat?
First of all you need to understand the fact that you don’t need to totally avoid the high Glycaemic Index Foods. Rather you can actually use the high Insulin Spike phenomenon to work in your favour at certain times of the day. This is where being familiar with Glycemic Index Chart will be so important. It will give you the list of all the foods along with their glycemic index value. Foods exceeding the value of 75 or more are categorised as High GI foods. Those between 40-70 are Medium and <40 are low GI Foods.
Click Here to view the Glycemic Index Chart.
Secondly will come understanding how your body responds to GI and Insulin at certain times of the day. For instance, in the morning your body is already depleted of glycogen stores due to fast overnight so a High Glycemic index food and an Insulin spike will help you to get your body in anabolic zone given the fact that you’ve already done your cardio. Similarly after a hard and strenous workout when you’re muscle glycogen is depleted a High GI food will aid in glycogen replenishment and elicit an anabolic response.
On the contrary if you are looking to lose fat, unless it’s a post workout meal, you would want to keep your Insulin levels as stable as possible. This is where consuming a mixture of Medium and Low Glycemic will prevent the build up of excess blood glucose and prevent the Fat Synthesis. Some of the examples of Medium and Low GI foods are Oatmeal, Brown Rice etc. Also you can throw in some Low GI fibrous vegetables to further stabilize Insulin Spikes throughout the day. As a thumb of rule it’s highly beneficial to consume Low Glycemic Index fruits like half apple, orange or pear first thing in the morning before your cardio to kickstart your metabolism.
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