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In general, foods that are high in fiber and fat are slower to digest. Solids and cold foods are slower than liquids and warm foods. Milk and fruit sugars, as well as the starches found in legumes, are naturally slower than table sugar and the starches found in most common foods.

Lower GI foods digest & convert to glucose more slowly
High fiber slower than low fiber
Hi fat slower than low fat
Solids slower than liquids
Cold foods slower than hot foods
Type of sugar/starch affects GI


Research on Glycemic Index

For example, research has shown that substituting lentils (a slowly-digesting legume) for rice or potato (a branched-chain starch that is easily digested) results in a 20-30 mg/dl reduction in the post-meal glucose peak.

Listed below are examples of foods in the slow, medium, and fast-digesting categories. In most cases, pasta, legumes, salad vegetables and high-fat sweets such as chocolate are quite slow at raising glucose levels. These types of foods produce less of a post-meal spike than foods in the right-hand column, such as breads, crackers, salty snacks such as pretzels and chips, white potatoes, rice, cereals and low-fat sweets. Most “combination” foods and mixed meals settle into a medium glycemic-index category, producing a modest post-meal glucose rise.


Slow Stuff Average Stuff Fast Stuff
Pasta Fruit Breads/Crackers
Legumes Juice Salty Snacks
Salad Veggies Pizza Potatoes
Dairy Soup Rice
Chocolate Cake Cereals
    Sugary Candies

Common Substitutions

Listed here are common substitutions that can be made to lower the overall glycemic index of a meal. For example, consuming yogurt or oatmeal at breakfast will produce less of a post-meal glucose spike than an equal amount (in grams of carbohydrate) of traditional breakfast foods such as cereal, toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles. Snacks such as whole fruit, ice cream and nuts produce less of a spike than equal amounts of pretzels or crackers. At dinner, look for side dishes that are lower in the glycemic index, such as sweet potatoes, peas, whole kernel corn or pasta.


Meal High-GI Options Low-GI Options
Breakfast Cereal, Bagel, Waffle, Pancakes, Muffins Oatmeal, Milk, Whole Fruit
Lunch White Bread, Fries, Tortillas, Cupcake Sourdough/Pumpernickel, Yogurt, Corn, Carrots
Snacks Pretzels, Chips, Crackers, Doughnuts   Fruit, Popcorn, Nuts,  Ice Cream, Chocolate
Dinner Rice, Mashed or Baked Potatoes, Rolls Pasta, Peas, Beans, Sweet Potato, Salad Veggies


Slowing Food 2: Splitting the Meal

Another strategy for slowing the digestion of food is to lengthen the time one takes to consume the food. Eating slowly or splitting a meal into two parts can effectively reduce the post-meal glucose spike. For example, consuming half of the carbs at the mealtime and saving the remainder for a snack 60 to 90 minutes later. Note that mealtime insulin should still be taken in full prior to the onset of the first part of the meal.

Part at the usual mealtime

Part 60-90 minutes later
Full insulin/meds given prior to meal

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