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What Is Glycemic Index(GI) and Glycemic Load? – Your GI Guide to Weight Loss

Understanding the GI of foods is a crucial factor in any successful weight loss program.

What is GI?

GI stands for glycemic index and was developed in the 1980s by Dr David Jenkins of Toronto University. It measures the rate at which your blood sugar rises over a number of hours after eating a certain food. It is compared to the blood sugar rise caused by a fixed dose in calories of dextrose.

A score of 100 is the highest, 0 the lowest.

Basically, the higher the number 0-100 the greater the blood sugar rise and the higher the sugar craving. Low GI foods cause a small rise, high GI foods a big rise.

A GI over 55 is high, below 55 is low. A list of a selection of foods showing their glycemic values is shown below.

Useful Info about GI

A drawback of the glycemic index is that it only tells you how rapidly a carohydrate turns to sugar, not the amount of carbohydrate in the food. You need to know both to really understand the impact of a food on blood sugar.

The most frequently quoted example of this is the carrot. The carbs in a carrot have a high GI, they are converted to sugar quickly. But the amount of carbohydrate in a carrot is low so it doesn’t have a lot of calories. The term that measures carbohydrate is know as GL

Glycemic Load and Its Importance

The term for this is glycemic load or GL. A low GL is below 16.

GL is probably more important than GI for weight loss and for health generally. Studies have shown that countries in which people consume a diet rich in foods with high glycemic loads such as the US and the UK are generally fatter and have higher rates of chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Countries where the diet is rich in fruit and vegetables, which are generally low GL foods have lower rates of obesity and chronic disease.

Numerous weight loss studies have confirmed that a low GL diet is more effective in promoting weight loss than a high GL diet.

So, what does that mean? Simple, cut down on your sugary and starchy foods and eat more fruit and veg if you want to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term!

One more proviso, though. Because the glycemic index measures carbohydrates it ignores fat. So, just because a food has a low GI and GL, such as bacon or sausage, it doesn’t mean you can eats lots of it!

Some foods that score low for glycemic index and load are packed full of fat and calories. Not a good choice for your healthy weight loss plan!

Also, don’t try and eat just low GI and GL foods. It’s more important to get the balance right so the odd serving of pasta and potatoes is fine if eaten in moderation.

Some examples…

The below examples are referenced from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2002

List of Low Calorie (<110 cals a serving), Low GI (<55) and Low GL (<16)

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of most cooked vegetables<20<540
1 medium apple40675
1 medium banana521290
1 medium orange48565
1 medium peach42770
1 cup of strawberries40150

 

Low Calorie (<110 cals a serving), High GI (>55) and Low GL (<16)

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of pineapple cubes59775
4 medium apricots57670
1 cup of papaya cubes60955
1 medium glass of orange juice5715110
1 cup of Shreddies7515110

57, 6, 70 calories
60, 9, 55 calories
57, 15, 110 calories
75, 15, 110 calories

Moderate Calorie (110-150 cals per serving), Low GI and Low GL

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of most cooked vegetables<20

1 thick slice of wholegrain bread 51, 14, 110 calories
1 cup of peas 48, 3, 135 calories
1 medium glass of apple juice 40, 12, 135 calories
1 medium glass of pineapple juice 46, 15, 130 calories

Higher Calorie (150-300 cals per serving), Low GI and Low GL

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of most cooked vegetables<20

40 grapes 46, 13, 160 calories
1 cup of cooked kidney beans 23, 10, 210 calories
1 cup of cooked lentils 29, 7, 230 calories
1 cup of cooked soybeans 18, 1, 300 calories
1 cup of pearl barley 25, 11, 190 calories
1 cup of cooked sweet potato (yam) 37, 13, 160 calories

Low GI and Low GL, but High Fat and High Calorie

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of most cooked vegetables<20

1/2 a cup (large handful) of peanuts 14, 1, 330 calories
1 cup of whole milk 27, 3, 150 calories
2 oz (large bag) of crisps/potato chips 54, 15, 345 calories
1 cup of ice cream 38, 10, 360 calories
1 cup (large pot) of fruit yoghurt 31, 9, 200 calories

High GI >55 and High GL >16

Name Of The FoodGlycemic Index

(GI)

Glycemic Load 

(GL)

Energy Contains 

in Kcal

1 cup of most cooked vegetables<20

1 small baked potato 85, 34, 220 calories
1 cup of cooked white rice 64, 23, 210 calories
1 cup of brown rice 50, 16, 215 calories
2 small slices of white bread 73, 20, 210 calories
1 large portion of french fries 75, 25, 515 calories
1 large slice of pizza 60, 20, 300 calories
1/2 cup of raisins 66, 42, 250 calories
1 cup of cornflakes 92, 24, 100 calories
1 cup of raisin bran 61, 29, 185 calories
1 16 oz/330 mls can of cola 63, 33, 200 calories

To get some simple ideas about how to incorporate low GI and GL foods into your plan, check out our free weight loss menus.

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