The Difference Between Glycemic Index and Load

Glycemic Load chart copyAn easy way to drop a few pounds is to become more aware of your daily sugar intake. To do this you need to first have a basic understanding of what glycemic index and glycemic load are and then know the difference between them. The glycemic index is basically a measure of the effect of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. The glycemic load on the other hand is really what you should focus on because it’s based more on the quantity of carbohydrate that you consume. Consuming foods that have both a high glycemic index and load, results in a higher and more rapid increase in blood sugar (glucose) levels compared to low-glycemic foods.

Glycemic Load = Glycemic Index (%) x Grams of Carbohydrate Per Serving

Consuming carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index and load in addition to calculating carbohydrate intake would produce the most stable blood sugar levels. This is important for you to know because when the opposite occurs and the glycemic load is high following a meal or snack, your blood sugar levels spike and the hormone insulin is released from the pancreas. If this is repeated often during a day and over long periods of time, your chances of gaining body fat and risk of getting diabetes and various forms of cancer increases. A review of six randomized controlled trials determined that overweight or obese individuals who followed a low-glycemic index/load diet experienced greater weight loss than individuals on a comparison diet that was a high-glycemic index diet or an energy-restricted, low-fat diet (1).

The glycemic load is one factor you should consider as part of your diet in addition to fiber content and percentage of carbs/fat/protein that comprise your daily diet.

The first step in changing any behavior is to become more aware and knowledgeable of the situation. As you start to read more food labels and continue watching your glycemic load, you will increase your chances of becoming more healthier!


Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Baur L. Low glycemic index or low glycemic load diets for overweight and obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007; (3):CD005105.

Linus Pauling Institute website

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