The Glycemic Index and Load

To many, there is a mystique about the glycemic index and load. The glycemic index indicates how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested and released as glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. In other words, how quickly foods break down into sugar in your bloodstream. A food with a high GI raises blood sugar more than a food with a medium to low GI.

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The glycemic index is a good indicator, but glycemic load is the actual amount of carbohydrate in actual food. So glycemic load is a better indicator of how a carbohydrate will affect our blood sugar.

Foods with a glycemic load (GL) under 10 are considered low-GL foods and have little impact on your blood sugar; between 10 ,20 and 30 are moderate-GL foods with moderate impact on blood sugar rise, and above 30- 40 is a high-GL foods that in most cases cause blood sugar surges.

Looking at this, if a food is ranked high on the GI index it has readily available carbohydrates for quick absorption. However, the same food can have a low glycemic load (GL) because there may not actually be much total amount of carbohydrate in a given serving of that food. So basically a low GL is a better indicator that a specific food won’t have much effect on blood sugar levels.

We can all benefit by eating a balanced healthy diet composed of quality protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates that are on the lower side of the GL and GI index. Foods with a lower GL and GI typically are usually higher in vitamins, nutrients and fiber and sustain your energy levels better throughout the day by balancing your blood sugar levels.

Ideally what we need to understand is that when our blood sugar spikes, the body releases extra insulin to bring down your blood sugar releasing extra insulin. If this happens too often it begins to lead to insulin resistance for many people and diabetes in the long run along with many more other health risks.

When we consume foods with a high GL and GI index, blood sugar levels tend to spike which causes a short-term feeling of fullness, but then blood sugar levels crash drastically which causes you to crave more food again quickly and in the end you land up consuming an excess amount calories, in the long run you just gain weight.

So when consuming foods with a low GL and GI index you keep your sugar levels stable by breaking down glucose more slowly, efficiently and sufficiently into your body, by doing this you have no insulin spikes/surges, you feel more energetic and feel more fuller for longer periods of time.

As a society we eat far too many processed and sugar loaded foods, which are the cause of an epidemic of diseases around today such as obesity, cholesterol problems, inflammatory diseases, diabetes, heart problems and cancer.

Some strategies to follow a healthy dietary food guideline include:

  • Increasing the consumption of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Decreasing the consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice and white bread.
  • Decreasing the consumption of sugary foods like cookies, sweets and soft-drinks.
  • Increasing the consumption of healthy fats omega 3 fish oil, extra virgin olive oil and flax oil.
  • Decreasing the consumption of trans fats hydrogenated vegetable oils, sunflower oil and margarines.
  • Increasing consumption of grass fed beef, organic eggs, free range chickens, organic yoghurts and milks.

What sort of diet do you follow? 

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