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An Explanation on Glycemic index: How It Is Different From Glycemic Load

Glycemic index and glycemic load are uncommon words to hear, however, it is a important factor in diabetic people for choosing the food that is best for them. We will see why these two things (glycemic index and glycemic load) have a big role in controlling diabetes.

People may have noticed certain times of the day when they feel tired and have a desire to eat some snacks. This is called a dip in blood sugar levels. For diabetic people, these sudden fluctuations in blood sugar levels can be dangerous. Thankfully, there are a few easy tools that help in keeping blood sugar steady, even if you don’t have diabetes. 

The Glycemic index is a range of different foods that tells how quickly a food, that contains carbs can raise blood sugar levels. Diabetic people especially should know the glycemic index range of their regular foods to manage diabetes. 

The Glycemic index has its counterpart known as glycemic load. The two words seem similar but have different significance. This is because the glycemic load considers multiple components of food and defines an overall load. For example, a food may carry a high glycemic index, but has a low overall glycemic load, which makes it a better food choice. 

Glycemic load is grouping of foods with carbs and measures their impact on the blood sugar and overall body. This range will help you know how high blood sugar can rise when someone eats a particular food and also how much a particular food can deliver glucose per serving. 

The glycemic index ranges from 0-100, the lower is the glycemic index, the slower the blood sugar level rises, and the higher is the glycemic index, the quicker the blood sugar rises. For instance, 100 is the glycemic index of pure sugar or glucose. 

How to calculate glycemic load with the glycemic index? 

The glycemic load can be calculated easily using the glycemic index, with a simple formula. 

GL (glycemic load) = GI (glycemic index) * amount of carbohydrate/100 

How do glycemic load effects diet and health? 

The range of glycemic load can be taken as: 

  • Low: 10 or less 
  • Medium: 11 to 19 
  • High: 20 or high 

The range of glycemic index can be taken as: 

  • Low: 55 or less 
  • Medium: 56 to 69 
  • High: 70 or higher 

A glycemic load under 10 is recommended to keep the body healthy. It will keep the average blood sugar (A1c) down and will prevent you from the side effects of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) such as fatigue, headaches, confusion, seizures, etc. In contrast, if the blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia), the side effects include frequent urination, increased thirst, nausea & vomiting, shortness of breath etc. 

By keeping an eye on food’s glycemic load, people can avoid diabetes-related complications. Some studies revealed that people with poorly managed diabetes when followed a low glycemic load diet for 10 weeks, lost weight, improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Another study says that a diet with a low glycemic load is more effective in managing weight and blood sugar levels, irrespective of calorie restriction than a diet with a high glycemic load. 

Using glycemic load is more effective because when we eat, we eat a whole portion of different foods and not just one particular food. Thus, considering the overall food eaten will give a more accurate figure of the diet and help in determining the right food. 

Glycemic loads in different foods 

There is a list of different foods with different glycemic loads: 

Foods with a low glycemic load ( 10 or less) 

  • ¼ cups peanut
  • 2 cups watermelon
  • 1 cup all-bran cereal
  • 1 cup kidney beans 
  • 8 oz skim milk 

Foods with a medium glycemic load (from 11-19) 

  • 1 large banana 
  • 1 medium donut
  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 cup boiled brown rice 

Foods with a high glycemic load (higher than 20) 

  • 10 large jelly beans 
  • 1 cup corn flakes 
  • 2 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 medium baked russet potato 

Is it right to rely on glycemic load to maintain health? 

Glycemic load is beneficial to maintain health, however, relying on only this is not good. Several studies on glycemic load reveal that diabetic people benefit from knowing the glycemic load and index to achieve better diabetes management, but considering other nutrients present in the foods having the same glycemic index is a topic of concern. 

Several factors can change the food’s rank on the glycemic index. For instance, certain foods with carbs become easier to digest after cooking them for a long time. 

Thus, considering glycemic load with all other necessary aspects will help diabetics to maintain diabetes. Focusing on food quality and a healthy diet can be a good approach to lower the risk of chronic diseases.