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Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained

Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained

Glycemic load and glycemic index are variables that measure the actual impact of foods that contain carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. The insulin index of a food demonstrates how much it elevates the concentration of insulin in the blood.

These terms are often used by people who are suffering from diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

Many diabetic patients actually monitor and control their blood sugar levels by avoiding high-carb foods altogether and choosing to adopt a low carb diet.

In a related study that compared this type of diet to a diet with an average carb intake, over 90% of the individuals in the low-carbohydrate group reduced or totally eliminated their need for diabetes medications.

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is simply a measurement of how quickly a carbohydrate food raises blood sugar compared to the same amount of glucose.

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The amount measured is the area under the “two hour curve” when blood glucose is measured for two hours after a meal. The bigger the area, the faster that particular carbohydrate raises blood sugar.

If a food has a high glycemic index (GI), it means that the food is digested and turned into blood sugar quickly. If it has a low GI, it happens slowly.

The way the scale works is that 50 grams of glucose is assigned a GI score of 100. Then other foods are measured and compared to glucose. For example, a food that raises blood sugar 40% as much as glucose is assigned a score of 40.

Many things can affect the glycemic index of a food. For example, it will be lower if consumed with fat or fiber. It will also depend on the individual and the ripeness and cooking method of the food.

Foods with a lower glycemic index (fruit, whole grains) tend to be healthier than foods with a higher glycemic index (candy, white bread), and eating foods with a low GI is correlated with improved health. This has a lot of exceptions, however.

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The Glycemic Index Scale:

  • Low: 55 or less
  • Medium: 56-69
  • High: 70 or higher

Check out this database if you want to find the glycemic index or glycemic load of particular foods.

The Glycemic Load

Another system known as the Glycemic Load (GL) is much better for predicting blood glucose levels after meals because it also incorporates serving sizes.

It is simple to figure out the Glycemic Load if you already know the GI of a food and its carbohydrate content. You simply multiply the Glycemic Index with the amount of carbohydrates in grams and divide by 100.

Glycemic Load (GL) = Glycemic Index (GI) * Carbs in grams / 100

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For example, apples with a GI of 40 and a carb count of 16 grams: GL = (40 * 16) / 100 = 6.4

Therefore foods with a high GI and/or high carb content have a higher glycemic load, while foods with a low GI and/or low carb content have a lower glycemic load.

The Glycemic Load Scale:

  • Low: 10 or less
  • Medium: 11-19
  • High: 20 or higher

The Insulin Index

The Insulin Index measures blood levels of insulin after meals.

These levels are usually correlated with glucose levels, with some exceptions. Some protein-containing foods such as beef can cause a higher insulin response than certain carbohydrate-containing foods.

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The Insulin Index measures the insulin response to various foods, relative to the insulin response to white bread, which is assigned a score of 100.

A food that raises insulin more than white bread has a score over 100, while a food that raises insulin less than white bread has a score of less than a hundred.

Some examples: porridge with an insulin index of 40 is much less than white bread, potatoes with 121 are higher than white bread, and beef with a score of 51 is less than white bread but higher than porridge.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Jae Berman

Health Writer

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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