The importance of monitoring added sugar intake throughout the day is well documented and in that same vein understanding both glycemic load and glycemic index will broaden the picture in terms of how sugars are processed in the body. The glycemic index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. The glycemic load on the other hand is really what you should consider because it is based on the specific quantity of carbohydrate content that you consume. Consuming foods that have a high glycemic index and load results in higher and more rapid increases in blood (glucose) sugar levels than when you consume low-glycemic foods. Here is a list of foods to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
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, you increase your chances of gaining body fat (eventually becoming obese) and increase your risk of diabetes and some forms of cancer. 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 make up your diet.
The first step in change is becoming aware of the situation and the more you read food labels and watch your glycemic load – the healthier you will become!
1). Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Baur L. Low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load diets for overweight and obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007; (3):CD005105.