Ok, so I was researching some information the other day when it came to certain foods and I came across a term that was unfamiliar to me. As diabetics we are so use to hearing about the glycemic index (that’s all that was preached to me upon my T1D diagnoses 11 years ago) and why we need to make sure our foods are on the lower end of this scale to make sure our blood sugars remain more stable and do not skyrocket, but as I was researching these particular foods, I came across something I’ve haven’t really heard much about…the glycemic load. What is this glycemic load? Is it the same as the glycemic index? Will it have a direct impact on my blood sugars? All great questions so lets take a closer look!
Difference Between Glycemic Index And Load?
Just to quickly review, the glycemic index is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and are categorized into 3 categories.
The categories are as follows:
Low = GI value 55 or less
Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive
High = GI 70 or more
Lower glycemic index foods, unlike high GI, will not cause your blood glucose levels to spike and crash, meaning you get sustained energy from the foods you eat. So now that we’ve reviewed that tid bit of info, how does the glycemic load compare?
How About The Glycemic Load?
The glycemic load of food is a number (just like the glycemic index) that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of the glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose, but the difference is that the glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in a particular food and how much each gram of that particular carbohydrate will raise ones blood glucose levels (now you can see my peaked curiosity).
Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels much more consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing those quick spikes and dramatic lows that we can become accustomed to. The reason being is that you are accounting for that particular carbohydrate with it comes to bolusing for your meals.
By watching the glycemic load of the foods you ingest you can dramatically impact your overall health in many ways. A diet focused on foods with a low glycemic load can:
- Make it easier to lose weight and avoid the dreaded diet plateau
- Avoid the roller coaster effect and maintain stable blood sugar levels (yes, please!)
- Help you burn more calories
- Help with insulin resistance
- Lower your risk for heart disease
How Do I Calculate The Glycemic Load?
Ok, so this is probably the most important question. The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both the quality (the GI value) and quantity (grams per serving) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serving, then dividing that by 100. Confused a bit, lets take a look at this example of an apple.
Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38. Carbohydrate per serving = 15g
GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
So the glycemic load of a typical apple is 6. Great, now your probably asking yourself, what do you do with this information?
Well, similar to the glycemic index, the glycemic load of a food can be classified as low, medium, or high reflecting on how quickly they will raise your blood sugars:
- Low: 10 or less
- Medium: 11 – 19
- High: 20 or more
For optimal health, it is recommended to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. However, the simplest way to use the GL is to choose foods with the lowest GI within a food group or category and to be mindful of your serving sizes.
How About The Glycemic Load Food List?
Even though its tough to compile an entire list of all the foods, below is a short sample of what can be considered in the ranges of high, medium and low.
Foods with a low glycemic load of 10 or less:
- Kidney, garbanzo, pinto, soy, and black beans
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like carrots, green peas, apples, grapefruit, and watermelon
- Cereals made with 100 percent bran
- Cashews and peanuts
- Whole-grain breads like barley, pumpernickel, and whole wheat
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Tomato juice
Foods with a medium glycemic load of 11 to 19:
- Whole-wheat pasta and some breads
- Rice cakes
- Barley and bulgur
- Fruit juices without extra sugar
- Brown rice
- Sweet potato
- Graham crackers
Foods with a high glycemic load of 20 or more:
- High-sugar beverages
- Sweetened fruit juices
- White rice
- White pasta
- French fries and baked potatoes
- Low-fiber cereals (high in added sugar)
- Macaroni and cheese
- Raisins and dates
I hope this information at least helps produce less spikes in your diets. Again, its always a good idea to speak to your doctor/nutritionist when it comes to any dietary modifications, but I found this information fascinating and wanted to share and I will certainly be implementing it into my eating regimen.
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Thanks for Reading!
Category: Diabetes Info