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Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load
Carbohydrates ingested with food are broken down into glucose (grape sugar) during digestion and cause the blood sugar level to rise. The two terms “glycemic index” and “glycemic load” are often used in this context. However, general nutritional recommendations cannot be derived from this. Nevertheless, the two terms provide clues as to how quickly foods containing carbohydrates cause blood sugar to rise. This information can provide guidance in the choice of suitable food, especially for diabetics.
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The glycemic response - how quickly and how much blood sugar rises after eating - does not only depend on the type of carbohydrates consumed. Many other factors influence how blood sugar levels react after eating. The amount and composition of the food as a whole (fat, protein content), the degree of processing, the type of preparation (heating, boiling, cooking, etc.), the chopping (cutting, etc.) and other factors such as Supply of certain vitamins that play a role in carbohydrate digestion. The “glycemic index” and the “glycemic load” do not reflect this complex interaction and are simplified measures with limited informative value.
No recommendations on the glycemic index
A diet with a high glycemic index or a high glycemic load may increase the risk of developing certain (chronic) diseases in which diet plays an important role (e.g. obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease or certain malignant tumors). However, there is no clear scientific evidence for this. The DA-CH nutrition companies do not make any recommendations in this regard. The Glycemic Index can only be used as a guide.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure that describes the increase in blood sugar after ingesting foods that contain carbohydrates. The blood sugar-increasing effect of glucose serves as a comparison. This gets into the blood fastest and is set with a value of 100. A GI of 50, for example, means that the increase in blood sugar caused by the consumption of a food is half as pronounced as that of glucose. The value always relates to 50 grams of the carbohydrates contained in the food and does not take into account the composition of an entire dish.
- Foods with a high GI include white bread, instant rice, baked potatoes or potato chips, French fries or cornflakes
- Foods with a low GI include whole grain bread with whole grains, muesli, pasta made from durum wheat semolina, legumes and fruit such as apples, pears or plums.
What is the Glycemic Load?
The glycemic load (GL) not only includes the type of carbohydrates, but also the amount of carbohydrates per serving of a food. It relates to 100 grams of the total food.
The GL is calculated as follows:
Glycemic load = glycemic index x carbohydrates per serving of a food (in g): 100
For more information, see Diabetes: Carbohydrates and Fats.