There’s no doubt that many people are aware of, have heard about or have read about, ‘Glycemic Index’ – but surprisingly few people know about ‘Glycemic Load’. And those who have heard of glycemic load (GL) – likely assume that it is just another synonym for glycemic index (GI). The fact is – they are two distinctly different things. How, you ask? You’ve asked the right question and I’d be happy to explain!
6 facts about the glycemic index (GI):
- It was a new concept introduced in the early 1980’s by Dr. Jenkins.
- It is “a numerical system that rates how fast carbohydrate foods break down into glucose and enter the bloodstream”, according to Dr. Ray Strand (in his book Healthy for Life).
- Dr. Jenkins assigned a GI number of 100 to glucose and set that as the standard. All other carbs are measured, rated and compared to that standard.
- The GI number of a carb gives us an idea of how fast that particular carb can “spike” or raise our blood sugar after it has been eaten – which is valuable information for all of us, but especially for diabetics.
- GI numbers fall into 3 categories:
- Low GI: under 55
- Medium GI: 55 – 70
- High GI: over 70.
- Five Factors that influence a carb’s GI number are:
- how ripe a food is (example: very brown bananas vs not-so-ripe yellow bananas)
- how processed the carb is (example: bleached white flour)
- how the food is cooked
- how much fiber a carb contains
- what type of sugar content the carb has.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The GI number is only half of the picture – the Glycemic Load is the other half.
4 Facts about the glycemic load (GL):
- The GL number is a more important than the glycemic index (GI) number.
- The GL takes into consideration both the quantity and the quality of the carbohydrate because both are factors that affect how fast a carb turns to glucose in our bodies.
- GL numbers fall into three categories:
Low GL: 0 – 10
Medium GL: 10 – 20
High GL: over 20.
- The GL number is determined by the following formula:
- the food’s glycemic index number (GI) multiplied by the number of grams of carbohydrates, divided by 100.
It can be very deceiving to look at ONLY the GI number of a carb.
Here is an example, taken from Healthy for Life by Dr. Ray Strand.
- Looking at only the glycemic index (GI) number:
- One cup of cooked pasta has a GI of 41 (and contains 52 g of carbohydrates).
- An average serving of carrots has a GI of 49 (and contains 5 g of carbohydrates).
- So – it looks like the pasta is a better choice, right? WRONG!
- Now let’s look at the glycemic load (GL) of each of the same foods:
- One cup of cooked pasta has a GL of 21.3 (41 GI X 52 grams of carbs = 2132, divided by 100 = 21.3 GL).
- An average serving of carrots has a GL of 2.45 (49 GI X 5 grams of carbs = 245 divided by 100 = 2.45 GL)
- The GL number gives us a much more true picture:
- the fact is that carrots (2.45 GL) are lower glycemic than pasta (21.3 GL)!
Certain things can lower the glycemic load of a food:
- having enough protein with the food
- having enough fiber with the food
- eating the food along with some acidic foods (such as lemon juice, pickles, etc.)
- reducing the food’s portion size.
Three of the many benefits of a consistent dietary lifestyle of low GL foods, (of avoiding foods with a high GL):
- the body’s blood sugar does not spike.
- a healthy body weight can be easily & naturally be achieved & maintained
- the body has a healthy energy level throughout the day (no slump times).
Are you ready to find out more about how a low GI/GL dietary lifestyle can help you lose weight, look great and have all the energy you desire? Contact me.
Book: Healthy for Life by Dr. Ray Strand
Copyright © 2012 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved