Understanding the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Is paying attention to the glycemic index gonna make me lean?  Is it going to help me look good in a bikini? What does the glycemic index mean to me and how does it effect my body?
These are words we hear so often when discussing foods but to many of us it just sounds like Japanese.


According to the American Diabetes Association,
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health.
Fast digesting foods  >  High on the Glycemic Index  > Rapid spike in blood sugar  >  Rapid drop in blood sugar
Slow digesting foods  > Low on the Glycemic Index  > Gradual rises in blood sugar  
Anything higher than 55 on the glycemic index is considered a high GI food.  Anything lower than 55 on the glycemic index is considered a low GI food.

Let me give you an idea of what foods are high, medium and low…
High – white potatoes, white rice, white breads, corn flakes, sugary breakfast cereals, pretzels, malt sugar, corn sugar, maltodextrin (in soda and candy)
Medium – whole wheat products, brown rice, grapes, raisins, pumpernickel bread, ice cream, fruit juice, table sugar
Low – most fruits and veggies, legumes, some whole intact grains, fruit sugar, dairy sugar, cacao, beans, chickpeas
As you see fats and proteins have no place on this.  That is because they contain NO carbohydrates.
You also notice that fruits are considered low because they contain soluble fiber, which decreases their GI.
Now that you understand what Glycemic Index means and what it is, let’s discuss Glycemic Load.

The Glycemic Load accounts for the amount of food, and how much that food will increase a person’s blood sugar level after eating it.  According to the Glycemic Research Institute:
One unit of glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose.
Glycemic Load = Carbs in a food x GI of a food / 100
This is important because it takes into account your serving sizes.  For example, watermelon has a Glycemic Index of 72.  But let’s say you eat just about 100g of it, giving you a total of 5 carbs since watermelon has a ton of water.  So we take:
72 (GI) x 5 (# of carbs) = 360/ 100 = 3.6.  The Glycemic Load of 100g of watermelon is 3.6.
For one serving of food a GL of…
High – 20+
Medium – 11 – 19
Low – 10 or below
Obviously the higher on the glycemic index, the more likely it is to have a higher glycemic load.
And if you eat a lot of a medium glycemic index food, it can have a high glycemic load.
But you can lower the glycemic load of a MEAL by pairing foods higher on the glycemic index with proteins and fats so that the food takes a much longer time to digest!



If you are looking for tasty, low glycemic meals check out:
The Lean Body Cookbook – 40+ Clean Eating Recipes with macros calculated for your convenience!


Your Coach,



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