Glycemic load (GL) is the number (usually called a unit) which is used for estimating, how much (quantity) food will raise blood glucose level in a person after consuming it. One unit of glycemic load is approximately equal to one gram of glucose, i.e. if a particular quantity of food has one unit of glycemic load, it will cause rise in blood sugar level approximately same if same person consumes one gram of glucose. Glycemic load provides us an accurate idea of how much digestible and absorbable carbohydrate a particular quantity of food contains.
Glycemic load is actually based on glycemic index of a food. Glycemic load helps us to overcome the disadvantages of using only glycemic index (because there are several disadvantages/lacunae of glycemic index).
How glycemic load is calculated?
Glycemic load is calculated or defined as the grams of available carbohydrate (digestible and absorbable) in the particular quantity of food (e.g. 100 gram or 150 gram serving of a food item) multiplied by the food’s GI (glycemic index) and divided by 100. For example 100 grams of pumpkin has approximately 4 grams of available carbohydrate and glycemic index of pumpkin is 75, so the glycemic load of 100 grams pumpkin is 4×75÷100=3 (which is low 0-10 GL is considered low GL), which makes it good food to eat by diabetics, despite having high glycemic index of 75 (high glycemic index of food is ?70).
- Low glycemic load is 0-10 units
- Medium glycemic load is 11-29 units
- High glycemic load is 20< (more than 20) units
- What are the advantages of using glycemic load?
There are several disadvantages of using only glycemic index for selecting foods by diabetic individuals for better control of blood sugar levels, which can be overcome by using glycemic load (along with glycemic index). Because there are, several foods with low glycemic index that causes unacceptable rise in blood sugar level, because of presence of high amount of available carbohydrates (digestible and absorb-able) per 100 grams, which should be avoided or consumed in less quantity. Whereas, there are several foods with high glycemic index that cause very little rise in blood sugar level, because they contain very little available carbohydrates (digestible and absorbable), and should be consumed by diabetic individuals, e.g. pmpkin.
Glycemic load provides a clear and comprehensive idea about the food to be consumed, i.e. how much (what quantity) of a particular food will cause how much rise in blood sugar level.
It is therefore better to use glycemic index (GI) as well as glycemic load (GL) while selecting foods for diabetic individuals.