PCOS: What’s The Difference between Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)?

The Glycemic Index (GI) has been used for many years as guide to the rate at which carbohydrate content is absorbed into the bloodstream for energy and the effect it has on raising blood sugar levels. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of the degree to which a carbohydrate is likely to raise your blood sugar (glucose) levels. The scale is 0 to 100 (based on either white bread or glucose), with 0 being low and 100 being high. The GI compares equal quantities of carbohydrates and provides a measure of carbohydrate quality but not quantity. So the drawback with GI ratings is that they are not based on commonly-consumed portion sizes of foods.

For example, only about 7 percent of a carrot is made up of are useable carbohydrates. But because a 50 g carbohydrate content is employed as the standard measure for a GI rating of individual foods to show how fast blood sugar level are raised, a larger than normal food portion is used for the GI calculation. In the case of carrots, for example, the amount is equivalent to 1.5 pounds-far more, of course, than people normally eat as a snack or part of a meal.

As a result, the GI rating often overstates relatively small carbohydrate content in a food item like a carrot.

The reverse is also true, i.e., the glycemic effects of foods containing a high percentage of carbs like bread, can often be understated under the GI system.

Therefore we recommend using the Glycemic Load index with calculations based on realistic food portions. GL ranks food according to the effects of actual carbohydrate content in a standard serving size of food.

Glycemic Load (GL) index

Glycemic Load of Common Foods

FoodServing Size(grams)Glycemic Loadper Serving
Bakery Products and Breads
Banana cake, made with sugar8018
Banana cake, made without sugar8016
Sponge cake, plain6317
Vanilla cake, made from packet mix with vanilla frosting11124
Apple pie, made with sugar6013
Apple pie, made without sugar609
Waffles, Aunt Jemima3510
Bagel, white, frozen, reheated7025
Baquette, white, plain3015
Coarse barley bread, 75% kernels307
Hamburger bun, white309
Kaiser roll3012
Pumpernickel bread, Whole grain306
50% cracked wheat kernel bread3012
White bread, wheat flour3010
Wonder™, enriched white bread, wheat flour3010
Whole-wheat bread309
100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens)307
Pita bread, white3010
Corn tortilla5012
Wheat tortilla508
Coca Cola® soda, average25015
Fanta® orange soft drink25023
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose energy drink)25040
Apple juice, unsweetened, average25012
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®)25024
Grapefruit juice, unsweetened25011
Orange juice, average25013
Tomato juice, canned, no added sugar2504
Breakfast Cereals and Related Products
All-Bran™, average304
Coco Pops™, average3020
Cornflakes™, average3021
Cream of Wheat™ (Nabisco)25017
Cream of Wheat™ Instant (Nabisco)25022
Grapenuts™, average3015
Muesli, average3016
Oatmeal, average25013
Instant oatmeal, average25017
Puffed Wheat, average3016
Raisin Bran™, (Kellogg’s)3012
Special K™ (Kellogg’s)3014
Pearled barley, average15011
Sweet corn on the cob, average15017
Couscous, average15023
White rice, average15023
Quick cooking white basmati15023
Brown rice, average15018
White rice, converted (Uncle Ben’s®)15014
Whole wheat kernels, boiled5014
Bulgur (cracked wheat), boiled15012
Cookies and Crackers
Graham crackers2514
Vanilla wafers2514
Rice cakes, puffed2517
Rye crisps, average2511
Soda crackers2512
Dairy Products and Alternatives
Ice cream, regular508
Ice cream, premium504
Milk, full fat2503
Milk, skim2504
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average2007
Apple, raw1206
Banana, ripe (all yellow)12013
Dates, dried6042
Grapes, average1208
Orange, average1205
Peach, average1205
Peach, canned in light syrup1209
Pear, average1204
Pear, canned in pear juice1205
Prunes, pitted6010
Beans and Nuts
Baked beans, average1507
Black-eyed peas, average15013
Black beans1507
Chickpeas, average1508
Chickpeas, canned in brine1509
Navy beans, average15012
Kidney beans, average1507
Lentils, boiled1505
Soy beans, average1501
Cashews, salted503
Peanuts, average501
Pasta and Noodles
Fettuccini, average18018
Macaroni, average18023
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft)18032
Spaghetti, white, boiled 5 minutes, average18018
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 minutes, average18027
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average18016
Snack Foods
Corn chips, plain, salted, average5017
Fruit Roll-Ups®3024
M&M’s®, peanut306
Microwave popcorn, plain, average208
Potato chips, average5011
Pretzels, oven-baked3016
Snickers Bar®6019
Green peas, average803
Carrots, average803
Baked russet potato, average15026
Boiled white potato, average15014
Instant mashed potato, average15017
Sweet potato, average15017
Yam, average15013
Hummus (chickpea salad dip)30
Chicken nuggets, frozen, reheated in microwave oven, 5 minutes1007
Pizza, plain baked dough, served with Parmesan cheese and tomato sauce10022
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut)1009
Honey, average2510

*Compared with pure glucose, which is assigned a glycemic index of 100.

Sources: This table is adapted with permission from: “International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002,” by Kaye Foster-Powell, Susanna H.A. Holt, and Janette C. Brand-Miller in the July 2002 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 62, pages 5-56. The complete list of the glycemic index and glycemic load for 750 foods can be found at: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/76/1/5.

Updated (where applicable) with current values from the “Home of the Glycemic Index” – the official website for the glycemic index and international GI database which is based in the Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, University of Sydney: (http://www.glycemicindex.com/). Last modified: December 13, 2005. Click here to read about the Insulite PCOS System Support Network


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