Glycemic Index IGI) and Glycemic Load (GL)


Glycemic Index  

The glycemic index of a food is scientifically calculated on how closely a food resembles glucose. It is usually measured on a scale of 1 to 100 with glucose being 100.

A low GI food is considered to measure between 1 and 55, a medium GI food will measure between 56 and 60, and a high GI food will measure upwards of 70 on the GI index.

The glycemic index of a food has a direct impact on your blood sugar. You would therefore ideally want to choose low GI foods to avoid unnecessary blood sugar fluctuations and the weight gain or fatigue that it can cause.

The glycemic index is not specific to portion sizes or food combinations, so it is only one element when looking at a low GI eating plan.

The idea behind a low GI diet is that people can ideally choose foods with a low GI value so that they can maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases associated with obesity and blood sugar dysregulation.

A low GI way of eating is sustainable and can help people to lose weight in a healthy way.

People opt for a low GI diet for the following reasons:

  • Weight loss or weight maintenance
  • Healthy meal planning
  • To maintain optimal blood sugar levels

Low GI foods include green vegetables, some fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholegrain breads.

Medium GI foods include sweet corn, bananas, raisins, grapes, instant cereals, rye bread.

High GI foods include white rice, white bread, potatoes, donuts, cakes, pasta, biscuits.

Glycemic Load

The glycemic load of a food is a measure of the quality and quantity of the carbohydrate value of a food. 

Foods with a high glycemic load encourage the body to store fat whereas foods with a low glycemic load encourage the body to burn fat.

While the glycemic index measures how closely a food resembles glucose, the glycemic load measures the impact of the carbohydrate on the combined meal. It looks at portion size and food combinations and how the meal as a whole impacts blood sugar levels.

For example, if you eat meat with potatoes, rice, and pumpkin the glycemic load of the meal will be higher than if you eat meat and green vegetables.

Carbohydrates carry almost all of the glycemic load of a meal, whereas healthy fats and proteins have a very low glycemic load. This doesn’t mean that they don’t still contain calories, so portion control is essential, no matter what we eat.

A balanced plate is optimal. If you imagine your plate divided into quarters, one quarter can be made up of proteins and healthy fats, one quarter can consist of low GL carbohydrates and the other half of the plate can be made up of non-starchy vegetables and salads.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 16 June 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am