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

Food Serving Size(grams) Glycemic Loadper Serving
Bakery Products and Breads
Banana cake, made with sugar 80 18
Banana cake, made without sugar 80 16
Sponge cake, plain 63 17
Vanilla cake, made from packet mix with vanilla frosting 111 24
Apple pie, made with sugar 60 13
Apple pie, made without sugar 60 9
Waffles, Aunt Jemima 35 10
Bagel, white, frozen, reheated 70 25
Baquette, white, plain 30 15
Coarse barley bread, 75% kernels 30 7
Hamburger bun, white 30 9
Kaiser roll 30 12
Pumpernickel bread, Whole grain 30 6
50% cracked wheat kernel bread 30 12
White bread, wheat flour 30 10
Wonder™, enriched white bread, wheat flour 30 10
Whole-wheat bread 30 9
100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens) 30 7
Pita bread, white 30 10
Corn tortilla 50 12
Wheat tortilla 50 8
Coca Cola® soda, average 250 15
Fanta® orange soft drink 250 23
Lucozade®, original (sparkling glucose energy drink) 250 40
Apple juice, unsweetened, average 250 12
Cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray®) 250 24
Grapefruit juice, unsweetened 250 11
Orange juice, average 250 13
Tomato juice, canned, no added sugar 250 4
Breakfast Cereals and Related Products
All-Bran™, average 30 4
Coco Pops™, average 30 20
Cornflakes™, average 30 21
Cream of Wheat™ (Nabisco) 250 17
Cream of Wheat™ Instant (Nabisco) 250 22
Grapenuts™, average 30 15
Muesli, average 30 16
Oatmeal, average 250 13
Instant oatmeal, average 250 17
Puffed Wheat, average 30 16
Raisin Bran™, (Kellogg’s) 30 12
Special K™ (Kellogg’s) 30 14
Pearled barley, average 150 11
Sweet corn on the cob, average 150 17
Couscous, average 150 23
White rice, average 150 23
Quick cooking white basmati 150 23
Brown rice, average 150 18
White rice, converted (Uncle Ben’s®) 150 14
Whole wheat kernels, boiled 50 14
Bulgur (cracked wheat), boiled 150 12
Cookies and Crackers
Graham crackers 25 14
Vanilla wafers 25 14
Shortbread 25 10
Rice cakes, puffed 25 17
Rye crisps, average 25 11
Soda crackers 25 12
Dairy Products and Alternatives
Ice cream, regular 50 8
Ice cream, premium 50 4
Milk, full fat 250 3
Milk, skim 250 4
Reduced-fat yogurt with fruit, average 200 7
Apple, raw 120 6
Banana, ripe (all yellow) 120 13
Dates, dried 60 42
Grapefruit 120 3
Grapes, average 120 8
Orange, average 120 5
Peach, average 120 5
Peach, canned in light syrup 120 9
Pear, average 120 4
Pear, canned in pear juice 120 5
Prunes, pitted 60 10
Raisins 60 28
Watermelon 120 4
Beans and Nuts
Baked beans, average 150 7
Black-eyed peas, average 150 13
Black beans 150 7
Chickpeas, average 150 8
Chickpeas, canned in brine 150 9
Navy beans, average 150 12
Kidney beans, average 150 7
Lentils, boiled 150 5
Soy beans, average 150 1
Cashews, salted 50 3
Peanuts, average 50 1
Pasta and Noodles
Fettuccini, average 180 18
Macaroni, average 180 23
Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) 180 32
Spaghetti, white, boiled 5 minutes, average 180 18
Spaghetti, white, boiled 20 minutes, average 180 27
Spaghetti, wholemeal, boiled, average 180 16
Snack Foods
Corn chips, plain, salted, average 50 17
Fruit Roll-Ups® 30 24
M&M’s®, peanut 30 6
Microwave popcorn, plain, average 20 8
Potato chips, average 50 11
Pretzels, oven-baked 30 16
Snickers Bar® 60 19
Green peas, average 80 3
Carrots, average 80 3
Parsnips 80 12
Baked russet potato, average 150 26
Boiled white potato, average 150 14
Instant mashed potato, average 150 17
Sweet potato, average 150 17
Yam, average 150 13
Hummus (chickpea salad dip) 30
Chicken nuggets, frozen, reheated in microwave oven, 5 minutes 100 7
Pizza, plain baked dough, served with Parmesan cheese and tomato sauce 100 22
Pizza, Super Supreme (Pizza Hut) 100 9
Honey, average 25 10

*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

Next Steps

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