Explaining Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index

The glycemic load and glycemic index are two terms that describe how carbohydrate-rich diets affect blood glucose levels. The insulin index of a food indicates how much it raises insulin levels in the bloodstream. 
People with diabetes frequently use this terminology to help them manage their blood sugar levels.

Many diabetes people are able to better control their blood sugar levels by avoiding high-carb items and opting for a low-carb diet.

A companion study found that when this sort of diet was compared to a diet with an average carb intake, over 90% of those in the low-carbohydrate group reduced or eliminated their need for diabetes drugs.

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a measurement of how rapidly a carbohydrate item elevates blood sugar when compared to a similar amount of glucose.

When blood glucose is measured two hours after a meal, the amount measured is the area under the “two-hour curve.” The larger the surface area, the faster that carbohydrate elevates blood sugar levels.

A high glycemic index (GI) indicates that the food is quickly digested and converted into blood sugar. It happens slowly if it has a low GI.

The scale operates by assigning a GI score of 100 to 50 grams of glucose. Then, in addition to glucose, other foods are measured and compared. A food that raises blood sugar 40 percent as much as glucose, for example, is given a score of 40.

The glycemic index of a food can be influenced by a variety of factors. If you eat it with fat or fiber, for example, it will be reduced. It will also depend on the individual, as well as the food’s ripeness and preparation method.

Diets with a lower glycemic index (fruit, whole grains) are healthier than those with a higher glycemic index (sugar, white bread), and eating low-GI foods is linked to better health. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule.

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

Because it includes portion sizes, another technique known as the Glycemic Load (GL) is significantly superior at forecasting blood glucose levels after meals.

If you already know a food’s GI and carbohydrate content, calculating the Glycemic Load is simple. Simply multiply the Glycemic Index by the number of grams of carbohydrates and divide by 100.

Glycemic Load (GL) = Glycemic Index (GI) * Carbs per 100 calories

For instance, apples with a GI of 40 and 16 grammes of carbs: GL = (40 * 16) / 100 = 6.4 GL = (40 * 16) / 100 = 6.4 GL = (40 * 16

As a result, foods with a high GI and/or high carb content have a higher glycemic load than those with a low GI and/or low carb content.

The Glycemic Load Scale:

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

The Insulin Index

The Insulin Index is a measurement of insulin levels in the blood after a meal.

With a few exceptions, these levels are normally associated with glucose levels. Some protein-rich foods, such as beef, can trigger a stronger insulin response than carbohydrate-rich foods.

The Insulin Index compares the insulin reaction to different foods to the insulin response to white bread, which is scored at 100.

A food that raises insulin higher than white bread receives a score of over 100, whereas food that rises insulin lower than white bread has a score of less than 100.

Porridge has a lower insulin index of 40 than white bread, potatoes have a higher insulin index of 121 than white bread, and beef has a lower insulin index of 51 than white bread but higher than porridge.

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