Lower hunger by going for lower food insulin index

Food pyramid with many low glycemic index foods at the base and a few high glycemic index foods at the apex

Later in the day, hunger returns more easily.

One way to keep hunger away is to choose foods that are include few or no carbs.

A better way to keep hunger away is to choose foods that have a lower glycemic index (GI), as in the figure above.[1] This way we can include some carbs.

The best way to keep hunger away is to choose foods that have a lower food insulin index. The food insulin index is the insulin demand generated by a food, scaled so that the insulin demand generated by glucose equals 100. Using the food insulin index, we can take into account some low-carb foods that also bring hunger.

The food insulin index varies by food group:

3 – fats and oils
8 – alcohol
22 – meat and protein alternatives
41 – mixed meals
47 – dairy products
49 – vegetables and legumes
50 – fruit and fruit juice
55 – snack foods
56 – french fries
58 – breads, cereals, grains, rice, and pasta
63 – beverages
71 – candy
100 – glucose

Meats, nuts, and cheese—whose food insulin index is markedly lower—are easy to remember late in the day to keep hunger away. But this amounts to just avoiding carbs. With the food insulin index, we can do better.

Within most of the food groups, the food insulin index of individual foods varies a whole lot. This lets us look over each food group and start choosing and remembering new favorites.

Food insulin index values of various foods, grouped by food type, in a bar graph[2]

So sometimes instead of the usual cheeses, nuts, or jerky, you might want to try having some whole-grain crackers, Snickers bars, chocolate chip cookies, or regular potato chips.


  1. Bao, Jiansong, et al. “Food insulin index: physiologic basis for predicting insulin demand evoked by composite meals.The American journal of clinical nutrition 90.4 (2009): 986-992.
  2. Bell, Kirstine (2014). Clinical Application of the Food Insulin Index to Diabetes Mellitus (Doctoral dissertation).