Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
This is the fourth in a series addressing concerns about eating that is out of control and food addiction. The first three in the series addressed: Stages of Change (are you truly invested and ready to make change), the High Cost of Obesity, and No Sugar Please.
Glycemic index and load is worth understanding because it helps explain why people who have had surgery to lose weight gain it all back. It also explains why diabetics struggle with their weight and constant hunger.
Not all carbohydrates are the same. Refined or simple carbohydrates are man-made, pulverized, ground up, and often filled with chemicals and poison. Their impact on our blood sugar is immediate and profound. Unrefined or complex carbohydrates are pure and often from the ground, trees, or bushes. They are what we call clean foods, especially the organic clean foods. They do not immediately impact our blood sugar and keep us satisfied longer.
Harvard University has helped us the most with glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) and understanding the importance of lower glycemic load foods. This movement began in the 80’s and has added to our understanding of weight loss and obesity. Harvard states they can now study a person’s diet and predict future diseases from measuring the glycemic load of their food choices. As I studied my son’s medical weight loss diet I realized the entire diet is filled with low GI and GL foods. No wonder the pounds are melting off of him! My Pastor smiles with pride as he states he lost 76 pounds from medical weight loss.
The higher the GI and GL the foods are the more rapidly we digest them and crave more. The rate of carbohydrate digestion has important health implications for all of us. Low GI and GL foods have a distinct advantage over foods with high GI and GL values. Lowest is always your best choice.
It is very easy to calculate the GL of any food by taking the GI value and multiplying it by the carbohydrates in the food and then divide by 100. For example, a small apple has a GI value of 40 and contains 15 grams of carbohydrates. Its glycemic load is (40 X 15) / 100 = 6. A small 5 ounce potato has a GI value of 90 and 15 grams of carbohydrates. It has a glycemic load of (90 X 15) / 100 = 14. This means one small potato will raise your blood-glucose level much higher than one apple does.
Fortunately professionals have made it a lot easier by supplying us with on-line tables and values. There are handy apps available also to help you quickly reference the glycemic values of what you are about to eat, or chose to eat.
Harvard University recommends foods that have a glycemic index of 55 or less and a glycemic load of 10 or less. They also recommend that we never exceed a glycemic load of 75-80 per day.
Here are some handy references to help you. (Harvard has been my best resource)
The Glycemic Load Diet by Rob Thompson
The Glycemic Load Counter, a Pocket Guide by Mabel Blades
The Easy GL Diet Handbook by F.A. Lindberg MD
Low GI (Low GI Diet Tracker)
Glycemic Load (I have this one)
Glycemic Load – Edward Teoh
GL Buddy Time4
Take the time to evaluate the information from the first entry in this series to see if you are truly ready for change and apply the glycemic load principle to your food choices. The last entry will cover healthy food choices and what we can eat.
God’s blessings at all your meals and with all your food choices!