If you’re like most people, you’ve been on and off diets for years, possibly with mixed results. Some more popular weight loss plans refer to either the glycemic load or glycemic index chart when gauging how the body’s insulin levels are effected by the foods we eat.
But these charts have conflicting information, causing confusion. In this article, we’ll dig into the details a bit, and compare the glycemic load vs. glycemic index so you can choose the best reference tool for your weight loss and health goals.
The Glycemic Index and Why its Misleading
Some foods cause the blood sugar to rise more than others. And since the culprits can be hard to detect based simply on the amount of carbs in a food, scientists came up with a standardized test. They gave test subjects a certain amount of a certain food, then tested their blood sugar level afterword. The glycemic index of a food is a measurement of how much it causes glucose to spike versus the standard of a slice of white bread. Here is an example of how a few common foods rank:
White bread 100
According to the glycemic index, carrots have a GI of 68, or 68% of that of a slice of white bread. Spaghetti has a GI of 64. Wait, what’s wrong with this picture? How could carrots, a vegetable we thought was good for us actually cause our blood sugar to raise even higher than white pasta?
The answer is that they don’t. The glycemic index was originally intended for lab use only, not as a dietary guideline. In the lab, test subjects were given foods by a standardized weight (grams), because certain foods like carrots have more water and unavailable carbs like fiber, they had to give subjects seven carrots to equal the carbs of white bread. Spaghetti only requires 1 cup to equal the carbs of white bread.
Using the glycemic index to decide whether you should eat a particular food or not is totally flawed because the amounts that were tested in many foods do not represent a typical portion size.
If you rely on the GI, then you might think that eating starchy carbs are only slightly worse than many fruits and vegetables and in fact, they are much, much worse.
Adjusting glycemic indexes of foods to typical serving size totally exposes starchy carbs for the problem they really are.
Glycemic Load – Accuracy is Key
The Glycemic Load is a measurement of how foods raise your blood sugar based on the amount people typically eat. The chart below shows the dramatic difference. These are typical serving sizes of the same foods we listed for the GI:
Carrot (1 medium) 11
Tomato (1medium) 15
White bread (1 slice) 100
Spaghetti (1 cup) 166
Bagel (1 medium) 340
Based on this more accurate way of measurement, we can get a much clearer picture of what we should be eating to prevent glucose spikes. We can see exactly what foods to eliminate and what to include in our regular diet.
But just exactly how do we use this chart to help us lose weight?
Reducing Glycemic Load to Lose Weight
Foods that are 100 or more on the Glycemic Load chart are the main culprits that are causing us to gain weight and should be avoided. But you don’t have to memorize the chart or carry one around with you in order to be successful at losing weight.
If you simply avoid the following foods, you’ll eliminate nearly all the glucose spiking foods in your diet:
- Grain products
- Soft drinks and fruit juices
If the thought of never eating another slice of hot french bread fresh from the bakery is enough to make you run away screaming, take heart: you can get away with eating 1 serving of starch per day or 1/4 serving of starch at a time if you totally avoid sugary soft drinks and fruit juices all together.
Since there really isn’t enough sugar in the rest of our food, we can pretty much eat whatever else we want. If you get a hankering for a bag of potato chips, grab a handful of salty peanuts instead. Skip that brownie and go for a few chocolate covered peanuts to satisfy that sweet tooth. There’s no longer any reason to feel hungry or deprived.
Learn why you don’t need to memorize the charts here
I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.
To Your Success,
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