Sunday, July 28, 2013

Glycemic Index versus Glycemic Load

This post has been a work in progress for a while. I learned the difference between glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). After being informed about glycemic load, I was instantly disappointed in a number of people I followed through various forms of social media for touting GI and completely eschewing certain foods because of a high GI value.

On somewhat of a side note, the idea of ignoring or completely eliminating a food or food group bothers me on a fundamental level. Mostly because it leads to a restrictive way of approaching food and health by extension. That restrictive mindset is where a lot of people, myself included, develop unhealthy relationships with food.

Like this lady, who looks like she could use a biscuit. Who am I to judge, maybe she has Celiac disease.
src: http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/37741458.jpg
Back to GI vs GL.

We're all aware that certain foods affect our blood sugar more than others, yes? E.G. you eat a candy bar, we'll make it a Snickers, and your blood sugar levels skyrocket and you start running around and aroundandaroundandarounduntilyoucrash. That food greatly increased your blood sugar levels. Another example, you eat a small banana (6-7in) and feel a lesser energy boost, but still enough to get you through the afternoon at work but with no awful crash. That food moderately increased your blood sugar levels.

According to About.com (and it pains me to say I could not find a better source of info on GI content of the following), the average GI of a Snickers bar is 55 and the average GI of a banana is 52.

At this point, I imagine you sitting back in your chair, papasan, whatever, and looking at the screen thinking "ummmmmmmmmmmmmm......those two numbers are the same and now I want a Snickers."

Au contraire my dear dear friend. Hold onto your socks, I'm about try blowing them off.

glycemic index: a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0-100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels 
glycemic load: a measure of glycemic response to a food which takes into consideration serving size
GL = (GI* Xg carbs per serving)/100

If we apply that to our Snicker's bar and our banana... we find that a Snickers bar has a GL of 19 and our small banana has a GL of 12.

I know Jackie, I know
http://images.sodahead.com/polls/002260503/1620742673_532dd66d_mind_blown_xlarge.jpeg
So, while the GI of certain foods can be important if you're diabetic or if you've been informed by your doctor or a nutritionist to watch that specific number...the rest of us are better off paying attention to the GL of a food since it actually takes into consideration the amount of that food we're eating.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this next photo as well as the accompanying text...

instagram: @itsjillianmcl
Glycemic load of a food looks at the way A SERVING of a particular food affects your blood glucose. Glycemic index looks at the amount of food that contains a standard 50g of carbs. 1 serving of carrots has a GL of 1.3, the GI of carrots is 16. 50g of carbs in carrots = 1lb of carrots. Are you eating 1lb of carrots?!?! ­čÉ░

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