Intake: The Absorption Race

Outside magazine, February 1996


Intake: The Absorption Race
By Andrew Tilin


If you never warmed to rice cakes, rejoice! Almost nothing converts to sugar in your bloodstream faster, in turn spiking your insulin level and causing more of the food to be stored as fat. "Anything with a high glycemic index--bagels, white rice, fruit juice, cereals--will do the same," says Philip Maffetone, trainer to a number of multisport stars and a proponent of the 40-30-30 diet. "When I tell this to athletes, the response is often, 'Gee, that's all I eat.'" The glycemic index is a measure of a carbohydrate's entry rate into the bloodstream, and it's determined in large part by the soluble fiber content, fat content, and type of sugar that make up the food. Higher levels of fat and fiber slow the absorption process. Regarding sugar types, foods with glucose (breads, cereals) are generally absorbed the fastest, followed by those with galactose (dairy products) and fructose (most fruits). If you buy into the 40-30-30 interest, look to the lower end of the index for nosh-worthy foods to fulfill the 40 percent.

Low Glycemic Index
Apples, Beans (kidney), Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Cherries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Peaches, Peanuts, Plums, String Beans

Moderate Glycermic Index
Apricots, Beans (garbanzo, lima, navy), Bread (pumpernickel, rye), Candy Bars, Ice Cream, Milk, Oatmeal, Oranges, Orange Juice, Pasta, Peas, Tomato Soup, Yogurt

High Glycermic Index
All-Bran Cereals, Bananas, Bread (wheat, white), Carrots, Corn, Corn Chips, Low-Fat Ice Cream, Instant Mashed Potatoes, Potato Chips, Puffed Rice Cakes, Raisins, Rice

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