Glycemic loads and what they mean for you

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Glycemic loads and the glycemic index make for a potentially confusing pair of concepts, but taken together they can be a big help in your weight loss diet, and are especially useful for diabetics attempting to control blood glucose levels accurately. It was developed building on the idea of the gycemic index but designed to take account of the fact that some foods have far lower carbohydrate contents than others - so the measure the actual affect on the bloodstream of eating the food, the quantity of carbs actually consumed must be recognised.

For dieters it's a great help to be able to determine not just the speed a carb is metabolised into sugar, but also how much of it is going to hit your bloodstream altogether. The clue is in the names - GI is an index pure and simple, and the GI of 20g of rice is exactly the same as the GI of 250g rice! However sheer commonsense tells you that the impact of the second portion on your blood sugar / feelings of fullness / ultimate success in dieting, is going to be hugely different. So clearly a measure of the IMPACT of the index was needed.. hence some clever people in Harvard came up with the idea of the "GL". It definitely gives a fuller picture

To calculate the glycemic load for specific portions of food can be calculated using the quantity (in grams) of it's carbohydrate content, multiplied by the glycemic index, and divided by 100.

For example, lets take an 'average' banana, containing 48g carbs, with a gycemic index of 52.... (remember as a natural and naturally varying substance, all values are averaged/approximated in this case)low glycemic load diet

52 x 48 / 100 = a glycemic load of 10

Lots of people are naturally attracted to the idea of a diet where the counting is made simple in this way. One snag is that you need to know how many grams of carbs your food contains, which can be more complicated to calculate. But after that it's a simple case of adding stuff together - The Glycemic Index institute in Sydney recommends targetting a total GL of 60 to 80 grams - with an overall GI for the diet of around 50-55.

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