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Understanding Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)

Food, Medicines, and Lies The Health Talk series by Dr. Prritii

dr priti nanda

When it comes to managing blood sugar levels, understanding the concepts of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) can be incredibly valuable. These measures provide insights into how different foods affect blood sugar levels, which is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or those seeking to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day.

Glycemic Index (GI):

GI is a ranking system that assigns a numerical value to carbohydrate-containing foods based on their impact on blood sugar levels compared to pure glucose (which has a GI of 100). Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed, causing a quicker and often larger increase in blood sugar levels, while foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual rise in blood sugar levels.

Glycemic Load (GL):

GL takes into account both the quality (GI) and quantity of carbohydrates in a serving of food. It provides a more accurate picture of a food's effect on blood sugar levels by considering the amount of carbohydrates consumed. GL is calculated by multiplying the GI of a food by the amount of carbohydrates in a serving and dividing by 100.


While GI ranks foods based solely on their impact on blood sugar levels, GL provides a more comprehensive assessment by factoring in portion size. A food may have a high GI but a low GL if the portion size is small, and vice versa.

Table: Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) of Selected Foods:

Food Glycemic Index (GI) Glycemic Load (GL) Serving Size (grams) Carbohydrates (grams)

Apples               38 6 120 15

Oranges         42                          5                          140                         12

Carrots           39                          2                           80                          6

Brown Rice     50                          16                         150                        33

White Bread 70                          10                          30                         22

Watermelon 72                           4                           120                 11

Chickpeas 28                           9                          150                         12


While GI and GL provide valuable insights into the impact of different foods on blood sugar levels, it's essential to remember that individual responses to foods can vary. Factors such as portion size, cooking methods, and food combinations can influence blood sugar responses. By incorporating a variety of low to moderate GI/GL foods into your diet, you can support better blood sugar control and overall health. Always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice, especially if you have diabetes or other health conditions.


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