⌄ Scroll down to continue ⌄

Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained

⌄ Scroll down to continue ⌄
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.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

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.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

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

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄
⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

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.

⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄
⌄ Scroll down to continue reading article ⌄

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

More by this author

Jae Berman

Health Writer

Green Tea vs. Coffee, Which One Is Better For You?
Green Tea vs. Coffee, Which One Is Better For You?
The Best Eating and Exercise Plan for You
The Best Eating and Exercise Plan for You
How to Live a Long, Healthy and Disease-Free Life
How to Live a Long, Healthy and Disease-Free Life
Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained
Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained
How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog
How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

Trending in Fitness

1 8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home 2 How to Get Rid of Sore Muscles Fast (What Works And What Doesn’t) 3 The Best 10 Types of Exercise for Kids Who Get Too Much Screentime 4 6 Compelling Reasons to Try Couples Yoga (And the Best Poses to Try) 5 Yoga Benefits for Men and Women Over 40 (And How to Get Started Now)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Explore the Full Life Framework

Advertising
Advertising