"I'm wonderng if rice wafers are ok to eat as a snack as I see on the glycemic index that they're actually quite high on the index.  If I only have 2 will that raise my blood sugar levels?"


Yes rice cakes do sit quite high on the Glycemic Index, with low-amylose versions being higher still. Amylose is quite a resistant starch which doesn't raise blood glucose as fast.  The reason why some rice cakes wouldn't have much of it, is due to the processing and the type of rice used.  But don't panic about this too much, because it's not all doom and gloom for the humble rice cake.

The Glycemic Index is a scale which rates the speed at which a carbohydrate containing food raises blood glucose levels.  Foods are typically rated against white bread which has a GI of 100, this allows an easy reference for people.  In this case, glucose would therefore be rated with a GI of 140.  It's more practical for us to assess against white bread - if we assessed against glucose having an index of 100, then white bread may not look as bad to some people.  Theoretically though, the GI is rated against glucose (GI=100)

Rice cakes have an approximate GI of 61 for high amylose to close to 99 for low amylose.

But wait, we really need to look at the Glycemic Load. 

Glycemic Load measures the total effect that our portion of our carbohydrate meal will have.  Glycemic Load is calculated by taking the total carbohydrate grams of our portion and multiplying it by the GI and dividing by 100.

So let's take 1 rice cake - approx 5g of carb with a hypothetical GI of 99.   99x5/100=4.95.  So the Glycemic Load of 1 rice cake is 4.95, which is pretty low, even though the GI is high.  Your 2 rice cakes will give you a GL of 9.9, which is still fairly low.  Eat 10 rice cakes and that GL races up to 49.5, which is great if you need some quick energy in the case of hypoglycaemia or endurance events.  Fat loss, not so much.  Even a low GI food can be turned into a high GL food...so watch your portions.

There are a few things that will lower the GI of a food; fat, protein and fibre are the ones you can control (processing, types of products used etc are reasons why one brand of rice cake can be different from another).  If you ever find a chocolate cake that says low GI, don't get excited, it's lowered its GI probably by including copious amounts of fat and can also be influenced by other additives, types of flour etc.  This DOES NOT make cake...any cake a health food. 

Adding a lean protein like tuna or cottage cheese or a healthy fat like avocado to your rice cakes will help lower the GI.  It will still have the same GL, but the load won't enter your blood stream as rapidly, meaning that you'll feel more satiated for longer, and those hard working fat burning hormones have a fighting chance to do their thing without battling against insulin.

Short answer, 2 rice cakes will be fine, always top it with healthy food and try to buy wholegrain rice cakes.  And if all round health is your M.O. leave the flavoured ones on the shelf.

4 Nov 10

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