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Glycaemic index or Glycaemic load?

by Mark Clarke February 26, 2013

Glycaemic index or Glycaemic load?

What is Glycaemic Load?

I hear lots of people talking about Glycaemic Index (GI) and how it affects which foods you should and shouldn't eat. GI estimates how quickly the carbohydrates contained in food are broken down and then cause blood sugar (glucose) to rise. However, this is only half the story. Glycaemic Load (GL) also factors in how much carbohydrate is actually contained in the food and how much each gram causes blood sugar to rise.

This can be a tricky concept to grasp, so let's illustrate it with an example:

Assume you eat a watermelon. Watermelon has a high GI, which means the carbs are quickly released into the bloodstream. However, as a watermelon consists of 95% water, there aren't many carbs in it. So although the carbs are released quickly (high GI), the amount of carbs released is actually very low (low GL).

The list below shows the GL effect of food: 

  • GL < 10 = low
  • GL 11-19 = medium
  • GL >20 = high
  

Why is GL important?

For most people, if you're controlling your carbs and eating the correct amount to achieve your goals and refuel correctly after training, GL won't affect you too much. If you want to get lean and don't know how many carbs you should be eating each day, click the icon below to download our carb calculator.

Carb Calculator

Click to download 

 

GL is important for:

  • Diets targeting metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and weight loss 
  • A diet which manages GL has been proven to minimise sustained blood sugar spikes and prevent the onset of type II diabetes 
  • Diabetics who need to accurately manage their blood sugar levels

Check out the different Glycaemic Load values by food type.

Mark Clarke
Mark Clarke


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