The difference between glycemic load and glycemic index and how to calculate glycemic load.
Things like the way that food is grown, processed or cooked can lower or raise the glycemic index numbers. Also, food responds differently depending on how much a person eats, each person’s own metabolic make-up, and how we combine foods.
Plus, there are some inconsistencies in how the glycemic index was calculated. Some experts say that because the glycemic index is based on such a small quantity of food (50 grams) it is less than the amount a person would typically eat. Therefore, it understates the impact high-carbohydrate foods have on blood sugar, while overstating the impact of low-carbohydrate foods.
The Glycemic Load
It is recommended that the glycemic load be used as a dietary guide instead of the glycemic index because it accounts for the amount of food a person is consuming as well as the way they combine their foods.In order to clear up some of this confusion, some nutritionists have developed a calculation using the glycemic index to figure out the Glycemic Load. It takes the quantity of available carbohydrates into account. Available carbohydrates like starch and sugar provide energy, but not fibre.
In order to understand the effect of a food on the blood sugar, we need to know both the glycemic index and the glycemic load to calculate the glycemic load of a certain kind of food, divide the glycemic index by 100 and multiply by the grams of carbohydrate in the serving size.
Measurements of Glycemic Load
A glycemic load of 20 or more is high. A glycemic load of 11 to 19 is medium and a glycemic load of 10 or less is low. For instance, take watermelon as an example of calculating glycemic load. It has a high glycemic index of around 72. In a serving of 120 grams it has 6 grams of available carbohydrates per serving. So its 72 divided by 100 multiplied by 6 equaling 4.32, rounded to 4. The carbohydrate in watermelon ranks high on the glycemic index but, the glycemic load in watermelon is low because there isn’t a lot of it.
Why the Glycemic Load is Important
By understanding the concepts of the glycemic index and the glycemic load someone can also understand the importance of combining the four food groups as a healthy way to eat. It also explains why a scoop of ice cream, which has some protein and fat in it, has a lower glycemic index and glycemic load than a handful of Cheerios, which has little more then refined carbohydrates.
The glycemic index on its own can be a useful way to make appropriate food choices and some prefer it over other methods such as counting carbs. So even though the glycemic index has its shortcomings, it continues to offer information on how to keep insulin resistance at bay.
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