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GI and Sustained Energy

Did you know that your blood glucose levels play an important role in how energised you feel?

GI and Sustained Energy

The facts at a glance

High GI foods cause sudden spikes in blood glucose and result in a crash, whereas low GI foods are broken down slowly, trickling glucose into your system over time.
The sustaining power of a healthy low GI diet results in more stable energy levels, rather than peaks and troughs of energy throughout the day.
Want to avoid that 3pm pick-me-up snack and curb cravings? Eating a healthy low GI diet can help.

How a low GI lifestyle can help

Adopting a low GI diet can help maintain energy levels by preventing fluctuations in blood glucose (sugar) levels during the day. Athletes have also been using GI science for their sports preparation, performance and recovery for decades. Low GI foods can:

  • Provide sustained and longer-lasting energy
  • Improve physical and mental performance
  • Extend endurance during strenuous exercise
  • Provide the energy needed to stay active for longer
  • Provide an advantage over competitors

Low GI lifestyle tips

The tips below specifically focus on maximising sports performance:

  • Avoid foods high in fat, fibre and protein before exercise due to their impact on digestion
  • Don’t overeat
  • The night before an event, have more carbohydrate for dinner than usual but keep it low GI. The whole meal should be lower in fat, moderate in high-quality protein and comfortable in quantity
  • Breakfast on the morning of an event should be carbohydrate based, low fat and moderate in protein
  • Two to four hours before an event, eat a normal portion of food. Breakfast examples include low GI cereal or bread, low fat yoghurt and fresh fruit
  • One hour before an event, eat smaller quantities of low GI foods
  • During an event it is better to consume high GI carbohydrates – fluids like Gatorade® and Powerade® are often ideal
  • For recovery, choose low GI food and drink one to two hours after an event to help replenish the body

High GI foods provide a quick burst of energy whereas low GI foods provide longer-lasting energy

Low GI provides longer lasting energy

Suggested foods pre and post a sporting event

2 – 4 hours before event normal amount

  • Low GI breakfast cereal such as rolled oats or muesli with milk
  • Burgen® bread with low GI honey
  • Tip Top® 9 Grain™ bread with jam
  • Raisin toast, plain or with jam/honey
  • Fresh fruit with skin on, such as stone fruit or pears, apples, grapes, grapefruit
  • Tub of yoghurt
  • Small banana smoothie – no ice cream
  • Fresh 100% orange or apple juice (aim for less than 250ml)

1 hour before event
smaller amount

  • Grain and fruit based bar
  • Milo® or Ovaltine® with reduced or low-fat milk
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Canned fruit in juice
  • Small amount of low GI breakfast cereal with milk
  • Sustagen®  

During event
high GI

  • Gatorade® or other sports drink
  • Liquid glucose supplement
  • Jelly beans, sugar lollies
  • Cordial
  • White bread with low GI honey
  • Scones

low GI

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A low GI diet focuses on the quality of carbohydrates you eat. Good carbohydrates (or low GI carbohydrates) are more slowly digested helping keep your blood sugars stable, whereas bad carbohydrates cause your blood glucose levels to peak and crash. Want to know which carbohydrates are best for you? Try our swap it tool!

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