Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load | Possible


Medical Reviewed by Krupa, A Postgraduate in Food Science & Nutrition

Glycemic index and glycemic load might sound inter-changeable terms but carry a different meaning, different sense and significant value contributing to healthy eating and of course, our well being. 

Whenever you are thinking about the weight loss, we are very sure the very first thing which would have come to your mind is cutting the carbohydrates.

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Avoiding complex carbohydrates is not a good idea as it is extremely essential for your body for keeping your energy level high and for avoiding the disease and deficiencies.

However, the glycemic index and glycemic load of carbohydrates have to be kept in mind while choosing the type of carbohydrate for diet. Let’s understand these terms in details.

What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index or GI is a measuring scale from 0 to 100 which helps in determining the rise in the blood sugar level after eating something.

The foods with a high GI value are the ones which are instantly digested and absorbed in the body and lead to fluctuations in the blood sugar levels to a greater extent.

However, the foods with a low GI is slowly broken down in the body and doesn’t show much fluctuation in the blood sugar levels.

For this reason, the food items with low GI helps in ensuring long-lasting good health by keeping away the risk of heart diseases and type-2 diabetes.

  • Low GI food: GI of 55 or less than 55
  • Medium GI food: GI between 56 and 69.
  • High GI food: GI of 70 or above 70.

It has been seen that foods with a low GI  value of 55 or less, are slowly digested and absorbed by the body. As there are little rise and fall in the blood sugar levels, there is little need for insulin.

Hence, high glycemic foods have to be avoided at any cost.

What Is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load is a measuring scale to analyze the amount of carbohydrate in a food serving. It gives the measure of the intensity of the increment in the blood glucose level and its duration after ingestion of any food.

Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion of ÷ 100.

That means the glycemic load of the food considers both the quality as well as the quantity of carbohydrate [1].

The food with GL of 10 or below 10 have a very little impact on the blood sugar levels; food with GL between 11-19 have moderate effects on your blood sugar levels and the food with GL of 20 or above it can greatly affect your sugar level.

How is glycemic load different from the glycemic index?

The glycemic index helps in determining the speed or pace at which the carbohydrate gets digested in your body and is released into your bloodstream. A food item with high GI releases sugar at a faster rate than that with a medium/low GI.

The difference between GI and GL is GI doesn’t take into the number of carbohydrates but GL does.

Hence, glycemic load is better than GI as it helps in indicating that to what extent and what amount of carbs present in food will affect the blood sugar levels.

This means that GL takes into account the amount of serving of a particular food item in a diet. Even knowing about the glycemic index of fruits, and its glycemic load is also important.

For example, GI for watermelon is 72 while GL is 7.21. Here, GI is based on five cups of watermelon servings while GL indicates it for one cup.

Hence the watermelon doesn’t contain much carbohydrate as it actually contains mostly water and affects your blood sugar level moderately.

Another amount is of carrot. It has a GI of 71 and GL of 6. Hence, even if a person is eating half kg carrot, it will not have much impact on your blood sugar level.

How Can GL And GI Help In Making Healthy Food Choice?

You can get the benefit by eating a balanced amount of fats, protein, and food with low GI and GL.

The food with low GI and GL are highly fibrous and rich in nutrients and helps in keeping up your energy level throughout the day.

Glycemic index vs Glycemic load
Glycemic index vs Glycemic load

Therefore, it is important to have an idea of not just the pace of sugar release in blood but also the food portion to be consumed for the desired effect.

Hence, knowing the glycemic index list is not sufficient as the glycemic load is also equally important.

On the basis of desired outcomes, you can select the food items with specific GI and GL values.

GL is a better indicator than GI as it helps in indicating the exact rate of hike of your blood sugar level by eating a specified amount of food.

The wise selection of food can avoid the situation of the sugar rush, hormonal imbalance and as a result, can avoid severe consequences like insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and further complications.

How knowing GL of the foodstuff helps in losing the weight?

While being aware of the concept of a glycemic index and glycemic load, you can make wise choices among available food items with low GI and GL. Such food is slowly broken down into your bloodstream for the utilization of the glucose.

As a result, you feel satiated and full for a long time. On the contrary, if you eat food items with high GI and GL levels, the high blood sugar levels will make you feel full for a short time but as soon as the sugar levels dip you will crave more.

Therefore it is important to know about the glycemic load along with the glycemic index that will aid in

  • Knowing about the rate of blood sugar release
  • The amount or portion size to be consumed

This will, in turn, determine the satiety value, frequency of food intake, calorie consumption, and hormonal regulation. These factors, if taken care, can prevent weight gain while assisting the process of weight loss.

Sample Low Glycemic Load Menu

A sample low GL menu for you is as follows:

  • Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with half onions, low-carbohydrate bread/ 2 medium-sized whole wheat paratha (without oil) with 1 Katori curd/ 2 whole wheat toast with 1 glass of fruit-yogurt smoothie
  • Snack: Vegetable salad/ Sprouts salad/ coconut water
  • Lunch: 2 multigrain chapatis (or brown rice) with any dal or mix vegetable curry, 1 Katori curd and salad/ Grilled chicken steak with stir-fried vegetables/ Baked fish skillet and boiled vegetable salad.
  • Evening Snacks: Green tea/ buttermilk, roasted peanuts/nuts/makhana/ boiled chana
  • Dinner:  2 multigrain chapatis with dal or mix vegetable curry, curd and salad/ Clear chicken soup with stir-fried vegetables/ 1 bowl of dal khichdi with 1 Katori of mix vegetable raita
  • Before Bed: A cup of warm milk

How Much Beneficial Is To Know About The GI And GL Of The Diet?

Various studies have demonstrated the health benefits of having low GI on reducing weight to complications of metabolic disorders.

According to a study published in the Journal ‘Archives of Endocrinology and Metabolism‘, it is shown that a low GI diet even reduces the consequences of inflammatory responses [2].

The benefits of low GI and GL diet is as follows:

  • It helps in reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes as it leads to less fluctuation in the blood sugar levels.
  • It helps in controlling the risk of gestation diabetes in which a person gets diabetes from birth.
  • It helps in lowering cholesterol levels.
  • It helps in maintaining ideal weight as the person feels full for long and has less craving which ultimately leads to binging on highly processed food.

It has been shown through some studies that knowing about GL and GI help the people in lowering the weight and has been proved especially beneficial for those with diabetes.

However, simply knowing the GI of the items is not enough as GL matters a lot.

As now we know about the concept and difference between glycemic index and glycemic load, it is equally important to spread it and imply as much as possible.

The efficient implication, supplemented with healthy habits of physical exercise, healthy eating and sound sleep is the key to a healthy body and sound mind.

For more insight into cleaner and healthier living, talk to our Possible Nutritionist today. The first consultation is on us.

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