What are the facts about the glycemic load of foods? If you have diabetes, you probably know you need to monitor your carbohydrate intake. But different carbohydrate-containing foods affect blood sugar differently, and these effects can be quantified by measures known as the glycemic index and glycemic load. You might even have been advised to use these numbers to help plan your diet. But what do these numbers really mean — and just how useful are they?
Glycemic index vs. glycemic load
The glycemic index (GI) assigns a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. The lower a food’s glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food. In general, the more processed a food is, the higher its GI, and the more fiber or fat in a food, the lower it’s GI.
But the glycemic index tells just part of the story. What it doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food. To understand a food’s complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly it makes glucose enter the bloodstream and how much glucose per serving it can deliver. A separate measure called the glycemic load does both — which gives you a more accurate picture of a food’s real-life impact on your blood sugar. Watermelon, for example, has a high glycemic index (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate that its glycemic load is only 5.
Glycemic load diet
Some nutrition experts believe that people with diabetes should pay attention to both the glycemic index and glycemic load to avoid sudden spikes in blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association, on the other hand, says that the total amount of carbohydrate in a food, rather than its glycemic index or load, is a stronger predictor of what will happen to blood sugar. And some dietitians also feel that focusing on the glycemic index and load adds an unneeded layer of complexity to choosing what to eat.
The bottom line? Following the principles of low-glycemic-index eating is likely to be beneficial for people with diabetes. But reaching and staying at a healthy weight is more important for your blood sugar and your overall health.
To learn more about the role of diet in your overall health, get a copy of Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Proverbs 17:22 ESV A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Luke 21:34 ESV “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Galatians 5:1 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Matthew 7:7 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Romans 7:25 ESV Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Colossians 3:2-5 ESV Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Matthew 5:28 ESV But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 2:11-16 ESV For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. …
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