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Glycemic Load – what is it and why care?

Glycemic Load

Perhaps you have heard of glycemic index (GI).  This is an indicator of how different foods affect our blood glucose (sugar) levels.  As glycemic index does not factor in the amount of food consumed, it may be misleading indicator.  Both quantity and quality of food consumed affects blood glucose.

The glycemic load (GL) of a food is a value that indicates how blood glucose is affected when a standardized serving portion of that particular food is consumed.  Therefore GL is probably a better guide.

The lower the numbers of each indicates less impact on blood glucose levels.  Optimally, we feel best and function best when our blood glucose is relatively steady.  Also low GI/GL diets have been shown to significantly reduce bodily inflammation, which is the precursor of many diseases including arthritis, diabetes, cancer to name a few.  Also low GI/GL foods have been correlated with delayed return of hunger, decreased subsequent food intake, and increased satiety when compared to high-GI/GL foods.

Glycemic Index has a scale of 0-100:  low, medium, high

  • Low GI:  <55
  • Moderate GI:  56-70
  • High GI:  >70

Glycemic Load has a scale of 0 to 20+:  low, medium, high

  • Low GL:  less than 10…has least impact on the blood glucose levels.
  • Moderate GL:  10-20…moderate impact on the blood glucose levels.
  • High GL:  >20…results in high blood glucose levels.

Practically speaking, although carrots have a high glycemic index at 68 and pasta has a lower glycemic index at 38, when portion size is considered carrots are the better choice.   The glycemic load of carrots is only 3, while for pasta it is 14.

Interested in tracking this?  Access a PDF of GL for 100+ foods here.

Bon appetite!

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