Tag: glycemic index
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.
As a type 1 diabetic, the glycemic index use to be near and dear to my heart, well, that’s until I found out the glycemic load. How do the two differ? Last week I posted about the the glycemic load, but what is the glycemic index and how do they differ? Lets take a closer look!
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level. A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level.
An awareness of foods’ Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight. A substantial amount of research suggests a low GI diet provides these significant health benefits. So, it’s worth taking a look at the basic principles of a low GI way of eating.
Why The Glycemic Index Is Important?
Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger. And if it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. Also, the greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that your body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down too low.
Therefore, when you eat foods that cause a large and rapid glycemic response, you may feel an initial elevation in energy and mood as your blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of increased fat storage, lethargy, and more hunger! Although increased fat storage may sound bad enough, individuals with diabetes (diabetes mellitus, types 1 and 2) have an even worse problem. Their bodies inability to secrete or process insulin causes their blood sugar to rise too high, leading to a host of additional medical problems.
The theory behind the Glycemic Index is simply to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.
High Glycemic Index Foods And Health Problems:
What researchers have learned is that high glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. In addition, people who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods tend to have greater levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI). High BMIs are linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
High glycemic index foods include many carbohydrates such as:
- White bread
- Low-fiber cereals
- Baked goods