Most foods -- except for high protein foods such as chicken, turkey and white fish like cod and trout -- turn into sugar after being consumed. The glycemic index, or GI, lists what foods convert into sugar after consumption. Look for foods with low GI numbers, which break down slower and release glucose gradually into the bloodstream, resulting in longer-lasting energy.
Breads, such as white bread, some wheat breads, English muffins and bagels, have a high GI number, which means they turn into sugar rather quickly after eaten. Instead, choose whole grain wheat, rye and sprouted whole wheat that have lower GI numbers for longer-lasting energy.
For those who eat cereal for breakfast, choose wisely. Cornflakes have a GI rating of 81; puffed and flaked; and quick or instant cereals have a high GI index. For a low GI number, select alternatives such as oat bran or rolled oat cereals with a GI of 50or shredded wheat with a GI of about 67. These cereals break down slower and will leave your feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
Pastas, as do all carbohydrates, turn into sugar. However, you may be surprised to know that pastas rank relatively low on the GI chart. Spaghetti that is protein-enriched, such as fettuccine, vermicelli and ravioli, have the lowest GI index numbers. The highest on the chart is brown rice pasta, which has a GI of 92.
Vegetables and Beans
Vegetables and beans also turn into sugar when eaten, but most do so slowly, giving them a low GI index number. Vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and lettuce, have a low GI of 15. Sweet potatoes, kidney beans, green lentils, chic peas and baked beans also have low numbers. Watch out for broad beans, parsnips, baked potatoes and beetroot, which have medium to high GI numbers.
Snacks and Fruit
If you snack throughout the day, try eating peanuts, which have a low GI of 15, instead of pretzels and corn chips, which rank high on the GI chart. Also consider healthy fruit snacks, such as cherries, grapefruit and apples which have low numbers, instead of chocolate bars and crisps, which also have low GI numbers but are empty calories with low nutritional values.