Glycemic Index versus Glycemic Load

Carrots & Spaghetti - Andrea Hagan

In my earlier three-part series on Midlife Spare Tire & The Glycemic Index (GI) I explained how:

Carbohydrate foods are fuel for both your body and your brain.  For optimal health, you must keep your blood sugar stable.   You can do this by understanding the glycemic index and making smart food choices.  Fast burning carbohydrate foods (digested quickly) are high on the GI and promote disease.  Slow burning carbohydrate foods are low on the GI and promote health.

The Glycemic Index measures the quality of your food as it becomes your body’s fuel, but not the amount of fuel in each of the foods you eat.   For example, you’d think carrots must have a lower GI than spaghetti because they are a vegetable, thus considered a better fuel. Right?


What??? Carrots have a higher GI than Spaghetti?


Enter The Glycemic Load

Glycemic Load (GL)

To fully understand how your food affects your blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly your food enters your blood stream measured through the GI, as well as how MUCH fuel or carbohydrates are in each serving.

The Glycemic Load (GL) takes both the speed or quality of your foods’ fuel into account (GI), as well much or quantity of carbohydrates (fuel) in each serving. Understanding and using the GL as well as the GI will help you make good choices. It explains why higher GI fruits like watermelon or vegetables, like carrots, are still healthy choices.


GL Calculation

The GL is calculated by taking the GI of a food and multiplying it by the net carbohydrates in a serving (carbohydrates minus the fibre) and dividing this by 100.

Calculation for GL

Carrots have a higher GI than spaghetti but they’re still a better choice for vibrant living because carrots contain fewer carbohydrates per serving (lower GL).


Putting the GL Into Perspective:

High GL foods that have lots of carbohydrates per serving (spaghetti) are like very dense hardwood logs, that take a very long time to burn.

GL Burning - Andrea Hagan

Therefore, high GL foods provide you with a lot of fuel. But, unless you use up the fuel by being active or by eating high GL foods sparingly, you’ll have a surplus fuel that will be stored as fat adding to your “Midlife Spare Tire”.

Midlife Spare Tire & The Glycemic Index Part 1 – How Did You Get Here?


What are the GI and GL Rankings?

Here’s a handy guide to the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load:

GI & GL Chart - Andrea Hagan

For optimal health, mainly eat foods with a low GL and GI, while eating middle and high GL and GI foods sparingly. It’s that 80/20 rule again!

The world is facing a global epidemic of “Diabesity”. What is Diabesity? As coined by Dr. Karen Wolfe, “It is the continuum of health problems ranging from mild blood sugar imbalance, insulin resistance and overweight, to diabetes and obesity.”

Each of us can help stem the tide of this epidemic and reverse diabesity. When you understand and apply the GI and GL you will make a difference in your health. And by sharing this blog and my previous three-part series on Midlife Spare Tire and the Glycemic Index you will help influence the health of your friends and family.

So become “Glycemic Literate.”

Choose foods based on the quality and quantity of their fuel and have optimum health and a vibrant life!

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