Glycemic index--Glycemic load

health Jun 15, 2021
Photo by Julia Zolotova / Unsplash

Blood sugar level of the human body should be kept relatively constant. If blood sugar drops too low, the person becomes exhausted and experiences increased hunger.
If it goes too high, the brain signals pancreas to secrete more insulin. Insulin brings the blood sugar back down, by converting the excess sugar to stored fat. If the rate of increase in blood sugar is greater, more amount of insulin will be released, and blood sugar level drops down too low.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. It is obtained by multiplying the quality of carbohydrates in a given food by the amount of carbohydrate in a serving of that food.

            There are three ratings for GI:

             Low GI value:         55 or less
          Medium GI value: 56 – 69 inclusive
           High GI value:         70 or more

Low GI vs High GI curve
GI ratings

Blood sugar levels are measured after the consumption of 50 grams of available food, over a period of 2 hours. The results are plotted on a graph and summarized in what is called glucose AUC, or "area under the curve." Glucose AUC shows the immediate impact of the food on the blood sugar.

Foods that are easily digested, absorbed, and metabolized have a high GI (GI≥70 on the glucose scale), while low-GI foods (GI≤55 on the glucose scale) have slowly digestible carbohydrates. Intermediate-GI foods have a GI between 56 and 69.

Foods with a low glycemic Index are fruits, vegetables, and alcoholic beverages.
Sea foods and meat have very low GI values.
Beer has a moderate GI due to the presence of maltose. Beets, corn, sweet potatoes, apricots, papaya, pineapple and watermelon have medium GI values.
The GI value of Potatoes is high.
Recent studies from Harvard School of Public Health indicate that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet.

Glycemic Load (GL)

Glycemic Load (GL) is a measure of both the quality and quantity (grams per serve) of a carbohydrate in a meal.
A food's glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serve and dividing by 100.

GL = GI x carbohydrate / 100

Low GL:        0 to 10
Medium GL: 11 to 19
High GL:        20 and over

Glycemic load helps people with diabetes to assess the quantity and types of food suitable for them to maintain good blood glucose levels.
Intake of higher glycemic load diets are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in women and in those with higher BMIs.

Foods with a low glycemic load are black beans, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like carrots, green peas, apples, grapefruit, and watermelon, cereals made with 100 percent bran, lentils, cashews and peanuts, whole wheat, tomato juice, milk

Foods with a medium glycemic load are whole-wheat pasta and some breads, oatmeal, rice cakes, barley, fruit juices without extra sugar, brown rice, sweet potato

Foods with a high glycemic load are high-sugar beverages, candy, sweetened fruit juices, white rice, white pasta, french fries and baked potatoes, low-fiber cereals (high in added sugar), macaroni and cheese, pizza, raisins and dates.

Glycemic index and Glycemic load of foods are important for people with diabetes to maintain a steady blood sugar level. Everyone can benefit from understanding and monitoring the Glycemic index and Glycemic load of in their diet.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

A higher dietary GI and GL are also associated with increased risks of developing gallstones.

Low-GI/GL diets were as effective as low-fat diets in reducing body weight.

Low-GI and -GL diets might have a significant effect in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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