Glycemic load (GL) is a concept which has been gaining momentum in recent years. It is a measure of the impact that carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels – a crucial factor in the development and management of type 2 diabetes.
By understanding GL and how to calculate it, dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals alike can make more informed decisions about the foods they consume and their overall diets.
What is Glycemic Load?
Glycemic load is a measure of how a given food impacts blood sugar levels, and it is closely related to another concept, glycemic index (GI). The GI is a measure of how quickly a given food is converted into glucose, and is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 (with 100 being the most rapid conversion). GL takes this one step further, taking into account not only the speed of glucose conversion, but also the amount of carbohydrates contained in a given food.
To calculate GL, the following formula is used: GL = (GI x amount of available carbohydrates per serving) divided by 100.
The result of this calculation is then expressed in terms of grams of carbohydrates per serving.
An example of this in action would be a slice of white bread, which has a GI of 70 and contains 15 grams of carbohydrates per slice. Using the formula, GL = (70 x 15) / 100 = 10.5 grams.
GL values range from 0 to 100 and can be classified as follows:
Low GL: 0 – 10
Moderate GL: 11-19
High GL: 20+
Generally speaking, low GL foods are more beneficial for those looking to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Examples of Foods with GL Values
Here are five examples of foods with their corresponding GL values:
White rice (cooked): 50 GL
Rolled oats (cooked): 10 GL
Baked potato: 25 GL
Apple: 10 GL
White bread: 10.5 GL
Low GL Diet
A low GL diet is one that seeks to minimize blood sugar spikes by consuming foods with low GL values. This type of diet works by limiting the amount of quickly-digested carbohydrates that are consumed, while emphasizing the consumption of slow-digested carbohydrates. Slow-digested carbs take longer to process and therefore have less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Benefits of Glycemic Load
The benefits of a low GL diet are twofold. Firstly, it can help with weight loss, as foods with a high GL are more likely to be high in calories. Secondly, it can help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as it is able to reduce the amount of insulin that is required to balance blood sugar levels. For those who already have type 2 diabetes, a low GL diet can help to reduce the amount of medication that is needed, as well as the risk of developing further complications.