Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal.

In fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood sugar (glucose) levels.

The higher the Glycemic Index, the greater the blood sugar response. So a low GI food will cause a smaller rise, while a high GI food will trigger a greater rise. A list of some common foods with their glycemic values is shown below. A GI of 70 or more is high, a GI of 56 to 69 is medium, and a GI of 55 or less is low.

The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new way to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycemic index into account, but gives a better picture than the glycemic index alone. A GI value tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate is converted into sugar. It doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food's effect on blood sugar. That is where glycemic load comes in. Watermelon, for example, has a high GI, but it doesn't contain much carbohydrate, so its glycemic load is relatively low. A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low.

GI and GL for Common Foods
Food GI Serving Size Net Carbs GL
Peanuts 14  4 oz (113g) 15 2
Bean sprouts 25  1 cup (104g) 4 1
Grapefruit 25  1/2 large (166g) 11 3
Pizza 30  2 slices (260g) 42 13
Lowfat yogurt 33  1 cup (245g) 47 16
Apples 38  1 medium (138g) 16 6
Spaghetti 42  1 cup (140g) 38 16
Carrots 47  1 large (72g) 5 2
Oranges 48  1 medium (131g) 12 6
Bananas 52  1 large (136g) 27 14
Potato chips 54  4 oz (114g) 55 30
Snickers Bar 55  1 bar (113g) 64 35
Brown rice 55  1 cup (195g) 42 23
Honey 55  1 tbsp (21g) 17 9
Oatmeal 58  1 cup (234g) 21 12
Ice cream 61  1 cup (72g) 16 10
Macaroni & cheese 64  1 serving (166g) 47 30
Raisins 64  1 small box (43g) 32 20
White rice 64  1 cup (186g) 52 33
Sugar (sucrose) 68  1 tbsp (12g) 12 8
White bread 70  1 slice (30g) 14 10
Watermelon 72  1 cup (154g) 11 8
Popcorn 72  2 cups (16g) 10 7
Baked potato 85  1 medium (173g) 33 28
Glucose 100  (50g) 50 50



Glycemic Index

Low <= 55 Medium
56 - 69
High >= 70
0 25 50 75 100

Glycemic Load

Low <= 10 Medium 11 - 19 High >= 20
0 10 20 30 40
 

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