Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Glycemic Load (GL) is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food.

Foods with a glycemic load (GL) under 10 are considered low-GL foods and have little impact on your blood sugar; between 10 and 20 moderate-GL foods with moderate impact on blood sugar, and above 20 high-GL foods that tend to cause blood sugar spikes.

Glycemic Index (GI) indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. In other words, how quickly foods break down into sugar in your bloodstream. A food with a high GI raises blood sugar more than a food with a medium to low GI.

But the glycemic index does not take into account the amount of carbohydrate in a food. So glycemic load is a better indicator of how a carbohydrate food will affect blood sugar.

If a food has a high glycemic index and a low glycemic load — like graham crackers have a GI of 74 and a GL of 8.1 — how will that affect your blood sugar?

Food ranked high on the GI may represent a huge portion of a food because GI is not based on standard serving sizes. Basically, if a food is ranked high on the glycemic index it has readily available carbohydrate for quick absorption. However, the same food can have a low glycemic load because there may not actually be much total carbohydrate in a given serving of that food. A low GL is the better indicator that a food won’t have much impact on blood glucose levels.

Here are two examples: Watermelon has a high GI of 72, yet a low GL of 7.21. The high GI is based on 5 cups of watermelon, not an actual serving size of 1 cup. The low GL means one serving of watermelon doesn’t contain much carbohydrate, because it is actually mostly water. The low GL indicates that a serving of watermelon won’t have much impact on your blood sugar.Carrots are another example of a low GL food that many people think will raise their blood sugar a lot — but it’s not true. That’s because carrots have a high GI of 71. However, what most people don’t know, is that the GL for carrots is only 6. Therefore, unless you’re going to eat a pound and a half of carrots in one sitting, an average serving of carrots will have very little impact on blood glucose levels. That said, juicing carrots — which means consuming more carrots at once — will have a greater impact on blood glucose.

How can knowing the glycemic load and glycemic index of foods be used to make healthier eating choices?

Everyone can benefit by eating a balanced diet of protein and fat, and foods that are lower on the GL and GI index. Foods with a lower GL and GI typically are high in fiber and nutrients and sustain your energy better throughout the day.

Also, knowing the GL of a food is a better indicator of whether that food will cause your blood sugar to spike. When your blood sugar spikes, the body releases extra insulin to bring down your blood sugar. If your body is asked to release extra insulin on a regular basis, it begins to lead to insulin resistance for many people and diabetes — especially if diabetes is in your family.

Can knowing the glycemic load of foods help people lose weight?

Yes. Consuming low GL and GI foods keeps us satiated longer because these foods are more slowly broken down for glucose utilization. The result is that you feel fuller for longer.

When you consume high GL and GI foods, blood sugar levels spike which causes a short-term feeling of fullness, but then blood sugars plummet which causes you to crave food again and you ultimately end up consuming excess calories, which contributes to weight gain.

This is particularly dangerous for diabetics, when they treat the spike to lower their blood sugar and the spike goes away it can cause a low blood sugar event.

Here are some foods and some values:

Food GI Serving Size (g) GL
CANDY/SWEETS
Honey 87 1 Tbs 3
Jelly Beans 78 1 oz 22
Snickers Bar 68 60g (1/2 bar) 23
Table Sugar 68 2 Tsp 7
Strawberry Jam 51 2 Tbs 10.1
Peanut M&Ms 33 30 g (1 oz) 5.6
Dove Dark Chocolate Bar 23 37g (1 oz) 4.4
BAKED GOODS & CEREALS
Corn Bread 110 60g (1 piece) 30.8
French Bread 95 64g (1 slice) 29.5
Corn Flakes 92 28g (1 cup) 21.1
Corn Chex 83 30g (1 cup) 20.8
Rice Krispies 82 33g (1.25 cup) 23
Corn pops 80 31g (1 cup) 22.4
Donut (lrg. glazed) 76 75g (1 donut) 24.3
Waffle (homemade) 76 75g (1 waffle) 18.7
Grape Nuts 75 58g (1/2 cup) 31.5
Bran Flakes 74 29g (3/4 cup) 13.3
Graham Cracker 74 14g (2 sqrs) 8.1
Cheerios 74 30g (1 cup) 13.3
Kaiser Roll 73 57g (1 roll) 21.2
Bagel 72 89g (1/4 in.) 33
Corn tortilla 70 24g (1 tortilla) 7.7
Melba Toast 70 12g (4 rounds) 5.6
Wheat Bread 70 28g (1 slice) 7.7
White Bread 70 25g (1 slice) 8.4
Kellogg’s Special K 69 31g (1 cup) 14.5
Taco Shell 68 13g (1 med) 4.8
Angel food cake 67 28g (1 slice) 10.7
Croissant, Butter 67 57g (1 med) 17.5
Muselix 66 55g (2/3 cup) 23.8
Oatmeal, Instant 65 234g (1 cup) 13.7
Rye bread, 100% whole 65 32g (1 slice) 8.5
Rye Krisp Crackers 65 25 (1 wafer) 11.1
Raisin Bran 61 61g (1 cup) 24.4
Bran Muffin 60 113g (1 med) 30
Blueberry Muffin 59 113g (1 med) 30
Oatmeal 58 117g (1/2 cup) 6.4
Whole wheat pita 57 64g (1 pita) 17
Oatmeal Cookie 55 18g (1 large) 6
Popcorn 55 8g (1 cup) 2.8
Pound cake, Sara Lee 54 30g (1 piece) 8.1
Vanilla Cake and Vanilla Frosting 42 64g (1 slice) 16
Pumpernickel bread 41 26g (1slice) 4.5
Chocolate cake w/chocolate frosting 38 64g (1 slice) 12.5
BEVERAGES
Gatorade Powder 78 16g (.75 scoop) 11.7
Cranberry Juice Cocktail 68 253g (1 cup) 24.5
Cola, Carbonated 63 370g (12oz can) 25.2
Orange Juice 57 249g (1 cup) 14.25
Carrot juice (freshly made) 43 250g 10
Hot Chocolate Mix 51 28g (1 packet) 11.7
Grapefruit Juice, sweetened 48 250g (1 cup) 13.4
Pineapple Juice 46 250g (1 cup) 14.7
Soy Milk 44 245g (1 cup) 4
Apple Juice 41 248g (1 cup) 11.9
Tomato Juice 38 243g (1 cup) 3.4
LEGUMES
Baked Beans 48 253g (1 cup) 18.2
Pinto Beans 39 171g (1 cup) 11.7
Lima Beans 31 241g (1 cup) 7.4
Chickpeas, Boiled 31 240g (1 cup) 13.3
Lentils 29 198g (1 cup) 7
Kidney Beans 27 256g (1 cup) 7
Soy Beans 20 172g (1 cup) 1.4
Peanuts 13 146g (1 cup) 1.6
VEGETABLES
Potato 104 213g (1 med) 36.4
Parsnip 97 78g (1/2 cup) 11.6
Carrot, raw 92 15g (1 large) 1
Beets, canned 64 246g (1/2 cup) 9.6
Corn, yellow 55 166g (1 cup) 61.5
Sweet Potato 54 133g (1 cup) 12.4
Yam 51 136g (1 cup) 16.8
Peas, Frozen 48 72g (1/2 cup) 3.4
Tomato 38 123g (1 med) 1.5
Broccoli, cooked 0 78g (1/2 cup) 0
Cabbage, cooked 0 75g (1/2 cup) 0
Celery, raw 0 62g (1 stalk) 0
Cauliflower 0 100g (1 cup) 0
Green Beans 0 135g (1 cup) 0
Mushrooms 0 70g (1 cup) 0
Spinach 0 30g (1 cup) 0
FRUIT
Watermelon 72 152g (1 cup) 7.2
Pineapple, raw 66 155g (1 cup) 11.9
Cantaloupe 65 177g (1 cup) 7.8
Apricot, canned in light syrup 64 253g (1 cup) 24.3
Raisins 64 43g (small box) 20.5
Papaya 60 140g (1 cup) 6.6
Peaches, canned, heavy syrup 58 262g (1 cup) 28.4
Kiwi, w/ skin 58 76g (1 fruit) 5.2
Fruit Cocktail, drained 55 214g (1 cup) 19.8
Peaches, canned, light syrup 52 251g (1 cup) 17.7
Banana 51 118g (1 med) 12.2
Mango 51 165g (1 cup) 12.8
Orange 48 140g (1 fruit) 7.2
Pears, canned in pear juice 44 248g (1 cup) 12.3
Grapes 43 92g (1 cup) 6.5
Strawberries 40 152g (1 cup) 3.6
Apples, w/ skin 39 138g (1 med) 6.2
Pears 33 166g (1 med) 6.9
Apricot, dried 32 130g (1 cup) 23
Prunes 29 132g (1 cup) 34.2
Peach 28 98g (1 med) 2.2
Grapefruit 25 123g (1/2 fruit) 2.8
Plum 24 66g (1 fruit) 1.7
Sweet Cherries, raw 22 117g (1 cup) 3.7
NUTS
Cashews 22
Almonds 0
Hazelnuts 0
Macademia 0
Pecans 0
Walnuts 0
DAIRY
Ice Cream (Lower Fat) 47 76g (1/2 cup) 9.4
Pudding 44 100g (1/2 cup) 8.4
Milk, Whole 40 244g (1 cup) 4.4
Ice Cream 38 72g (1/2 cup) 6
Yogurt, Plain 36 245g (1 cup) 6.1
MEAT/PROTEIN
Beef 0
Chicken 0
Eggs 0
Fish 0
Lamb 0
Pork 0
Veal 0
Deer-Venison 0
Elk 0
Buffalo 0
Rabbit 0
Duck 0
Ostrich 0
Shellfish 0
Lobster 0
Turkey 0
Ham 0

Just remember your results as a diabetic may vary, so always test, test, test!

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  1. Trackback: Beginners Links | Diabetic Treatment Alternatives

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