Dear Wellness Seeker,
What is the Glycemic Index that you often hear about and which is the difference from the Glycemic Load? What kind of carbohydrates should you prefer? Is it beneficial for you to follow a low-glycemic diet? Find the answers to these popular questions below.
Let us first give a short explanation for the Glycemic Index (GI).
When we consume carbohydrate-rich foods our bodies convert their sugars and starches into glucose, and this raises our blood glucose levels. The GI is a measure of the blood glucose-raising potential of the carbohydrate content of food, compared to the same amount of pure glucose or white bread which are the reference carbohydrates and have a glycemic index set at 100 in the glucose scale.
We could say that the GI describes the quality of carbohydrates in food. It is a numerical ranking which indicates how fast the body is going to digest, absorb and metabolise different carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate-containing foods can be classified as high- (≥70), moderate- (56-69), or low-GI (≤55) relative to pure glucose (GI=100).
A food with a GI of 30 boosts blood glucose only 30% as much as pure glucose. One with a GI of 90 acts almost like pure glucose. A serving of white rice has almost the same effect as eating pure table sugar-producing a quick, high spike in blood glucose. A serving of lentils has a much slower, smaller effect.
One of the most important factors that determine the GI of carbohydrate-containing foods is how refined or processed the carbohydrates are. In general, refined or processed carbohydrates have had most of their ‘natural’ fibre removed. The carbohydrate portion of the food becomes more exposed and easier access to the digestive enzymes and is therefore rapidly metabolized into glucose.
Eating mixed meals with healthy fats and acidic seasonings such as vinegar, lemon juice, pickles etc. may slow down the metabolism of carbohydrates and their digestion during a meal, lowering the glycemic effect. Last but not least, the way carbohydrates are cooked and prepared can also affect the GI of carbohydrate-containing food. Overcooked pasta compared to al dente for example, has a much higher glycemic index!
Several health benefits exist for reducing the rate of carbohydrate absorption by means of a low GI diet. These include reduced insulin demand, improved blood glucose control, and reduced blood lipid levels. By choosing nutritious low glycemic foods we curb blood sugar spikes and lower the risk of metabolic diseases.
But the glycemic index is only part of the story because it compares the potential of foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose. It does not reflect on the quantity of the carbohydrate-containing food that you will eat.
The Glycemic Load (GL) takes this one step further as it also accounts for the quantity of the carbohydrates of the foods consumed in a meal.
The GL combines the GI and the total amount of carbohydrates consumed. How high the blood glucose will rise and how long it will stay high, depends on both the quality (GI) and the amount of the carbohydrates consumed. Ultimately it is the combination that will affect the blood glucose and insulin responses.
Take watermelon for example. If you use the GI you might avoid watermelon because it has a GI of 80. But there are not a lot of carbohydrates in a serving of watermelon as it is mostly water, and so the glycemic load is relatively low at 5.
This is how to calculate the Glycemic Load of a particular food or meal:
GLFood = (GIFood x amount (g) of available carbohydrateFood per serving)/100
For a typical serving of food, a low GL food scores under 10, medium GL scores 11 – 19 and a high GL scores 20 and over.
For optimal health, an average person consuming 2000kcal should aim to keep their daily glycemic load under 100. Therefore, consuming 3 meals per day, a low GL meal would have a GL score ≤ 33.
Is the Low-Glycemic Diet beneficial for you?
A Low-Glycemic Diet may have a lot of benefits as it could help you to stabilize your blood glucose, balance your weight, achieve a good metabolic profile, increase your energy levels and most importantly, prevent the onset of various pathological conditions.
Studying the GIs and GLs of various foods is an interesting exercise to help you make the right choices.
The glycemic index and glycemic load of 100+ foods can be found in the link below:
A complete list of the glycemic index and glycemic load for more than 1,000 foods can be found in the article “International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008” by Fiona S. Atkinson, Kaye Foster-Powell, and Jennie C. Brand-Miller in the December 2008 issue of Diabetes Care, Vol. 31, number 12, pages 2281-2283.
Low Glycemic meals in the Chenot Method
One of the characteristics of the Chenot diet is that it incorporates nutritious low glycemic meals. Nutritionists together with the Chef make very careful choices taking into account the nutritional value, the selection of the ingredients, the preparation and the cooking methods. The Chenot diet is designed to help the body revitalize, eliminate the accumulated toxins, prevent premature ageing but also helps the tissues to repair! Come in Chenot to re-focus on your Wellbeing again!
To Your Best Life,
Eva Stavridi – Nutritionist-Dietitian
Your Chenot Wellness Team