Glycemic Index Vs Load

Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

Most of us are familiar with the term Glycemic index but I am not sure if as many are familiar with the term Glycemic load. I had never heard this term myself until I came across it in some reading I was doing about the microbiome. So I thought that it was time for some research and sharing.

Glycemic index is number range that indicated how fast a food raises the blood once it has entered the bloodstream. The scale is on a scale of 1 to 100 with pure glucose being 100. Typically the higher the fiber or fat content the lower the GI and the more processed and cooked the higher the GI. Also, the thing about glycemic index is that it only part of the picture. It indicates the how fast the sugar can increase your blood sugar levels but it is no indicator of how much glucose will be delivered. Glycemic load tracks both how quickly the glucose enters the blood stream and how much per serving it can deliver. In other words it looks at both quality and quantity of the carbohydrates. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5.

Here are some examples: Look these two refined breakfast food choices


Glycemic Index: 72     Glycemic Load: 38.4


Glycemic Index: 84     Glycemic Load: 72.7

Now, compare that to the following relatively high glycemic index vegetables and fruits:

Beets, boiled

Glycemic Index: 64     Glycemic Load: 6.3


Glycemic Index: 53     Glycemic Load: 12.1

Sweet Potatoes

Glycemic Index: 54     Glycemic Load: 13.1


Glycemic Index: 71   Glycemic Load: 7.2

So if you are a numbers person here is how you can calculate GL.

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

An apple has a GI of 38 and contains 13 grams of carbohydrates.

GL= 38 x 13/100 = 5

 A white potato has a GI of 85 and contains 14 grams of carbohydrate

GL=85 x14/100 = 12

 From this information it can be predicted that the potato will have twice the glycemic effect of an apple.

The next question is should you be looking at GI or GL? According to the Glycemic Index Foundation,”If you use the GI as it was originally intended – to choose the lower GI option within a food group or category – you usually select the one with the lowest GL anyway because foods are grouped together for a reason because they contain similar nutrients, including amounts of carbohydrate. So, if you choose healthy low GI foods, at least one at each meal, chances are you’re eating a diet that not only keeps blood glucose ‘on an even keel’ but contains balanced amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Anyway, numbers numbers…..what it boils down to is that processed foods should be avoided, fruits and veggies are awesome. If it doesn’t rot don’t eat it. Fresh over frozen and frozen over canned Same ol’tune but perhaps a bit more information to the guide decisions.