Understanding the Glycemic Index
In order to ‘score’ foods for the glycemic index glucose is used as a reference point, giving it a GI score of 100. Foods that cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly are given a higher GI score. Foods that cause a slow increase in blood glucose levels are considered to be low GI foods.
- Low glycemic index – 55 or less
- Medium glycemic index – 56 – 69
- High glycemic index – 70 or higher
Understanding the Glycemic Load
Glycemic load is a way of ranking the carbohydrate content of foods using their glycemic index and their portion size. Data is based on the idea that eating a small portion of a high glycemic index food would give the same effect as larger portion of a low glycemic index food.
- Low glycemic load – 10 or less
- Medium glycemic load – 11-19
- High glycemic load – 20 or more
Remember, the glycemic index or the glycemic load are just one part of eating a healthy diet, and I feel it should be used as a guide only, not another ‘diet.’ Opt for low or medium GI or GL foods more often, as this will help you to maintain your blood glucose levels within the normal range.
You should also try to:
- Eat regular meals.
- Choose a variety of foods from all of the food groups.
- Include foods that are high in fibre.
- Limit your intake of high sugar foods.
- Reduce your intake of high fat foods.
How can you maintain your blood sugar levels?
Maintaining blood glucose levels within a desirable range is about portion control, as well as choosing the correct type of foods. Choosing foods that are higher in fibre will also help to control your appetite, and therefore help with weight loss if this is necessary. A good way to think about plate portioning is to aim for:
- 50% vegetables or salad
- 25% meat, fish or alternatives
- 25% starchy foods like cereals, bread, potatoes or rice
You may also want to check out my previous article, Can the Glycemic Index Help You.