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Glycemic index and glycemic load

Glycemic index and glycemic load

Have you been feeling on the sugar roller coaster lately and not sure what to eat? Well, not all carbs are created equal. I oftentimes talk to my patients about how the understanding of the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods can positively influence your choices and help get you off of this sugar roller coaster.

The Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) are two concepts that can help individuals select foods for supporting blood sugar balance. Not all foods have the same impact on blood sugar and insulin. Ideally, blood sugar should remain relatively constant. A spike in blood sugar tells the body to release more insulin, which can cause a “rollercoaster” of up and down blood sugars. This in turn can result in energy crashes, “brain fog”, and cravings. For those at risk, or diagnosed with heart disease, insulin resistance, or diabetes, maintaining blood sugar balance is vital part of any eating plan.

If you are struggling with finding the right balance when choosing your foods and you need an eating plan you can easily follow and integrate into your lifestyle, click the button below and make an appointment.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a way to measure the impact of a specific food on blood sugar levels. The index ranks carbohydrate-containing foods on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how quickly the foods raise blood sugar levels.

The Glycemic Load (GL) is calculated by multiplying a food’s GI (as a percentage) by the number of net grams of carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus fiber) in a meal or snack. The result is a score of how much that serving of food is likely to increase blood sugar levels.

Since we all typically eat a combination of foods with different GI levels, the concept of GL provides a more accurate picture of the glycemic impact of the meal as a whole. GL takes into account actual portions of food, and is thus a more realistic measure of how a meal or snack impacts blood sugar.
Low Medium High

Glycemic Index

55 or less


70 or higher

Glycemic Load

10 or less

20 or higher


Patients who are following any of therapeutic food plans are encouraged to select foods that are low-GI and low-GL as often as possible.

Which is more important, the GI or GL?

Both concepts are helpful to understand. The GI (Glycemic Index) is a score of a food’s impact on blood sugar based on laboratory studies when a specific portion size was eaten. The GL takes into account the Glycemic Index score and the portion size someone is eating.

Generally speaking, eating appropriate portions of foods lower in both GI and GL helps to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. Foods are categorized as low, medium, and high as seen in the table above.

Tips for Selecting Low GI and GL Foods:

  • While low-GI foods are the best choices, most people will also eat some medium-GI foods. One tip to remember is that medium- and high-GI foods should be eaten with protein or fat, both of which blunt the glycemic effect of these foods.

  • It is important to remember that the GI refers to the increase in blood sugar for a defined portion of a specific food. It does not automatically take into account the actual portion of these foods eaten in real life. For example, watermelon is considered to be high-GI, but the average person eats relatively little at a time; therefore, the actual glycemic impact of watermelon may not be significant.

  • There may be variations among individuals in how their blood sugar responds to low, medium, or high GI foods. For example, a relatively active person who does not have diabetes may experience a small increase in the blood sugar when a lower GI food is eaten. In contrast, someone with prediabetes may experience comparatively higher blood sugars with the same lower GI food.

Please bookmark restorebalance.net and visit often to read our new articles on health and nutrition. Next week you’ll find here a free printable that you’ll find useful in making your daily food choices towards a better health.

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