Glycemic index and Glycemic load

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I looked through the archives of this blog and am surprised that I have not mentioned the glycemic index before. The glycemic index is basically the measure of how quickly a carbohydrate will be burned and metabolized by your body.

Take this example, one person eats a pack of sugar and one person eats a potato.

You would expect that the sugar would quickly raise your blood sugar and then a half hour later or so your blood sugar would drop back down where with the potato your blood sugar would rise a bit for a couple of hours and then drop slowly after that time (I am only guessing at the numbers to point out the idea).

Looking at this example we would say that the sugar is a high glycemic food and the potato is a low glycemic food.

Low Glycemic Index Carbs

glycemic indexOne of the decision points that I make when I eat is to try to make sure as many of the carbohydrates that I eat are low glycemic carbohydrates.

By taking in low glycemic foods I will have lower spikes in my blood sugar and should have a much more consistent energy level throughout the day.

This is a very tough thing to figure out initially but as you get the hang of the numbers it becomes easier.

Here are some foods and their Glycemic index values:

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values for Selected Foods (Relative to Glucose)

Food

Glycemic Index
(Glucose=100)

Serving size

Carbohydrate per serving (g)

Glycemic Load per serving

Dates, dried

103

2 oz

40

42

Cornflakes

81

1 cup

26

21

Jelly beans

78

1 oz

28

22

Puffed rice cakes

78

3 cakes

21

17

Russet potato (baked)

76

1 medium

30

23

Doughnut

76

1 medium

23

17

Soda crackers

74

4 crackers

17

12

White bread

73

1 large slice

14

10

Table sugar (sucrose)

68

2 tsp

10

7

Pancake

67

6″ diameter

58

39

White rice (boiled)

64

1 cup

36

23

Brown rice (boiled)

55

1 cup

33

18

Spaghetti, white; boiled 10-15 min

44

1 cup

40

18

Spaghetti, white; boiled 5 min

38

1 cup

40

15

Spaghetti, whole wheat; boiled

37

1 cup

37

14

Rye, pumpernickel bread

41

1 large slice

12

5

Oranges, raw

42

1 medium

11

5

Pears, raw

38

1 medium

11

4

Apples, raw

38

1 medium

15

6

All-Bran™ cereal

38

1 cup

23

9

Skim milk

32

8 fl oz

13

4

Lentils, dried; boiled

29

1 cup

18

5

Kidney beans, dried; boiled

28

1 cup

25

7

Pearled barley; boiled

25

1 cup

42

11

Cashew nuts

22

1 oz

9

2

Peanuts

14

1 oz

6

1

glycemic index

Zone Diet uses the Glycemic Index

So now that you see this Glycemic index info what exactly is the Glycemic load? The amount of carbohydrate consumed affects blood glucose levels and insulin responses.

The glycemic load of a food is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate in grams provided by a food and dividing the total by 100.

In essence, each unit of the glycemic load represents the equivalent blood glucose-raising effect of 1 gram of pure glucose or white bread. Dietary glycemic load is the sum of the glycemic loads for all foods consumed in the diet.

The concept of glycemic load was developed by scientists to simultaneously describe the quality (glycemic index) and quantity of carbohydrate in a meal or diet.

Where to find more on Glycemic Index and Clycemic Load

There are many books and websites that will give you numbers for Glycemic index and glycemic load of foods and I think that the best book for Glycemic index information is the GI Diet, a book that can be purchased just about everywhere.

There are a few diets that really concentrate on this info most notably the Zone diet and the GI Diet but I just look at this information as a guideline on how to eat not only focusing on the GI level or glycemic load level of a certain food but looking at my whole diet to decide how well I am eating on a daily basis.

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