Foods with High Glycemic Index and What to avoid: A Smart Eating Guide

High Glycemic Index foods
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Have you ever noticed how a sugary doughnut makes you feel energetic and then suddenly tired, but oatmeal keeps you going strong for a long time? Or how eating a lot of white rice can make you feel all over the place, but brown rice doesn’t?

This all comes down to something called the Glycemic Index (GI), and it’s changing how we look at food.

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100. It ranks them based on how much they raise blood sugar levels after consumption.

Foods with high glycemic index (GI) are rapidly digested and absorbed, which causes a quick spike in blood sugar levels. Conversely, foods with a low GI release sugar slowly and steadily, which helps to minimize blood sugar spikes.

Here, we take a deep dive into foods with a high glycemic index and discuss which ones to avoid for smarter eating habits.

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Understanding the Glycemic Index

  • The Glycemic Index is a ranking system of food’s carbohydrate content based on its immediate effect on blood glucose levels. 
  • Carbohydrates, often called carbs, are one of the main types of nutrients in our diet. They are important because they are a major energy source for our body. 
  • Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have the highest GIs. Their rapid digestion leads to marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

GI Classification

GI Classification

  • High GI (70 and above): These foods cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. They are typically processed or refined foods with less fiber. Eg, white rice, white bread, sugary drinks, etc.
  • Medium GI (56-69): These foods have a moderate effect on blood sugar. E.g., mangoes, bananas, raw pineapple, etc.
  • Low GI (55 or less): These foods are slow to digest and absorb, causing a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels. E.g., seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables etc.

The GI value of food is affected by several factors, including the type of sugar it contains, its nutrient composition (amount of protein and fat), and the cooking method. The cooking method can transform the same food from low GI to medium GI or high GI.

Effects of High-Glycemic Index Foods

Consuming high-GI foods can cause your blood sugar levels to go up and down, which is particularly problematic for individuals with diabetes. These foods can also lead to weight gain and, if eaten in excess, are linked to various health problems.

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The Impact of Cooking on GI

Preparing and cooking methods of our food can significantly alter the food’s GI. Let’s look at some common examples:

1. Potatoes

Raw potatoes have a moderate GI. However, boiling them raises their GI and becomes high GI as the heat breaks down the starches into simpler sugars. Surprisingly, frying potatoes lowers their GI due to the fat from the oil slowing down digestion.

2. Rice

The GI of rice varies with type and cooking method. Basmati rice, a staple in Indian cuisine, has a lower GI compared to other white rice types. Overcooking rice can increase its GI as it becomes softer and easier to digest.

3. Milk vs. Ice Cream

Milk has a low to moderate GI. Surprisingly, despite its high sugar content, ice cream has a lower GI because of its fat content, which slows down sugar absorption.

List of High Glycemic Index Foods to Avoid

Category Food Item Typical GI Value* Remarks
Grains White Rice 70-90 GI varies with type and cooking method
Chapati 52-55 Whole wheat chapatis have a moderate GI
Biryani 70-85 High due to white rice and oil content
Desserts Jalebi Above 70 Very high due to sugar syrup
Gulab Jamun 65-75 Deep-fried and sugar-laden
Rasmalai 40-50 Lower GI due to dairy content
Fruits Mango 51-55 Varies depending on ripeness
Banana 48-52 Ripe bananas have a higher GI
Papaya 56-59 Moderately high GI
Snacks Samosa 70-80 High due to potatoes and refined flour
Aloo Paratha 70-80 High GI due to potatoes and refined flour
Dhokla 28-35 Low GI, made from fermented rice
Beverages Sweet Lassi 70-75 High due to added sugar
Masala Chai (with sugar) 40-50 Moderate GI varies with sugar content
Legumes Dal (Lentils) 29-33 Low GI, healthy protein source
Chole (Chickpeas) 28-32 Low GI, high in fiber

List of Some Fast Food and their GI Values

Fast Food Item Typical GI Value Remarks
Burger with Bun 60-70 High GI due to refined bun
French Fries Around 75 High GI, especially if very crispy or fried
Pizza (Commercial) 60-70 Depends on the crust and toppings
Fried Chicken 50-60 Lower GI, but varies with coating and recipe
Tacos 50-60 Depends on the shell and fillings
Soft Drinks 70-80 High GI due to sugar content
Ice Cream 50-60 Varies based on sugar and fat content
Hot Dog with Bun 60-70 High GI, influenced by the bun
Donuts 70-75 Very high GI due to sugar and refined flour
Cheeseburger 60-70 Similar to burgers, influenced by the bun

*According to the glycemic index guide


  • The GI values are approximate and can vary based on preparation methods, ingredients, and individual body responses.
  • The GI of fruits can change significantly with ripeness and variety.
  • Traditional Indian sweets typically have a moderate GI due to the high sugar and fat content (except jalebi, which has a high GI).
  • Whole grains and legumes are generally lower in GI and are healthier options.

 Smart Eating Strategies

1. Choose Low to Medium GI Foods

Opt for whole grains, legumes, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are lower in GI and packed with essential nutrients.

2. Read Labels

 Pay attention to food labels’ ingredients and nutritional information. Look for products with whole grains and fewer added sugars.

3. Balance Your Plate

Combine high-GI foods with low-GI foods to balance the meal and mitigate the blood sugar spike. For example, pair a piece of white bread with a hearty serving of vegetables and lean protein.

4. Monitor Portion Sizes

Even low-GI foods can lead to weight gain and higher blood sugar if consumed in large quantities. Be mindful of portion sizes and total carbohydrate intake.


Understanding and managing foods’ glycemic index (GI) is crucial for maintaining a healthy diet, especially for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Individuals can enjoy a diverse and satisfying diet by choosing lower GI foods wisely while managing their blood sugar levels effectively.

Remember, smart eating is not just about avoiding high-GI foods; it involves crafting a balanced, nutritious, enjoyable eating plan supporting your overall health objectives.

At Fitterfly, our team of expert dietitians and specialists is committed to assisting you in better diabetes management. You can check out our Fitterfly Diabetes Prime Program to understand well. 

For personalized guidance and support, feel free to give us a missed call at 08069450746, and we assure you of a prompt response.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Should you eat high-GI foods before exercise?

Eating high-GI foods before working out can give a quick energy boost. However, they might not be ideal for everyone, as they can cause blood sugar levels to spike and drop quickly, leading to possible energy crashes.

What are the best high glycemic carbs for pre-workout?

Good pre-workout high glycemic carbs include: Bananas, Dry fruits like dates, raisins, etc, and a small serving of white rice

Do high-GI foods give you energy?

Yes, they do! But it's like a sprint, not a marathon. You'll get a quick burst, but it might not last long.

What are high glycemic foods for the gym?

For those looking for a quick energy boost at the gym, high-GI foods can be helpful. These include: Sports drinks, Energy bars, Raisins, and White bread sandwiches

- By Fitterfly Health-Team