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Glycemic Index Vs. Glycemic Load



Healthy food

What is the difference?

The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new way to measure the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycemic index into account but gives a fuller picture than does glycemic index alone. A GI value tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar. It doesn’t tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food.

Some people use these indexes to measure their weight and to minimize diabetes risk. Consuming low GL and GI foods keep us satisfied longer because these foods are more slowly broken down for glucose utilization. The result is that you feel fuller for longer.

Both measures are beneficial. Glycemic load helps you select appropriate portion sizes, while the glycemic index helps you to differentiate between good and bad carbohydrate choices. The lower each number, the less it affects blood sugar levels.

Tips for reducing the GL

  • Eat small or reasonable portions of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice.
  • Include lots of low-GL fruit and vegetables at every mealtime. Set as a target eating at least five servings of fruit and veg per day. Cook the veggies lightly for a short time or eat them almost raw. Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and veg are all fine.
  • Make more of pulses including peas, beans, and lentils in soups, salads, and as a meal accompaniment instead of pasta or rice. Pulses, including dried or canned, count towards your five-a-day fruit and veg.
  • Don’t forget to include a protein-rich food as part of your meal to reduce the GL. Chose from lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, soy products, or Quorn.
  • Adding acidic foods such as balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, vinaigrette, or pickles, capers, or gherkins to your meal will reduce the overall GL. Adding a little monounsaturated oil such as olive or rapeseed oil, or a little Parmesan cheese or reduced-fat cream to recipes also reduces the GL.
  • Cut right down on highly refined snack foods such as sweeties, crisps or corn chips, cakes, biscuits, and pastries made from white flour and sugar. Instead, choose nuts and seeds, or dried fruits such as apple rings or apricots. Instead of milk chocolate, snack on a couple of squares of dark chocolate with over 70 percent cocoa solids.
  • Eat granola cereal. This is good food to include for a low GL diet.

Health benefits

Some studies had shown that you are more likely to lose weight and reduce your body mass index with a glycemic index diet than with a traditional diet. Some evidence indicates that a diet higher in protein and lower on the glycemic index may lead to sustained weight loss. Several results also suggest that you may lose weight on a glycemic index diet simply because you choose more fiber and protein, which helps you reduce portion sizes and eat less.

Better blood sugar and insulin control

Eating lower-glycemic foods helps keep blood sugar levels under better control and decreases the need for insulin.

Disease prevention

Following a low-glycemic diet independently reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, and breast cancer. Choosing a low-glycemic diet that’s also high in fiber is even more protective.

Increased energy

Athletes maximize their energy and recovery time by knowing which foods to eat before, during, and after exercise based on their glycemic index level.

Improved mood

Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters that determine mood. High levels of serotonin can boost your mood, decrease food cravings, and promote restful sleep.