What is the Glycemic Load?

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Simply put, glycemic load is the measure of how much carbohydrates are in a food portion compared to how fast consuming it raises your blood glucose levels. The mathematical equation for glycemic load is: (Glycemic Index x Carbohydrates)/100. Since knowing the glycemic load of the foods you eat helps with maintaining good blood glucose levels, those affected with diabetes should take the time to calculate the glycemic load of the foods they consume and adjusting their diet accordingly.

Glycemic Load Rates

Low Glycemic Load ranges from 0 to 10 and do not impact your blood sugar levels much. Foods with low glycemic load include: beans (kidney, garbanzo, pinto, soy and black), fruits (apples, grapefruit, pear and watermelon), vegetables (carrots, parsnips and green peas), 100% bran cereals, lentils, nuts (cashews and peanuts), chicken nuggets, hummus, whole-grain breads (barley, pumpernickel and whole-wheat), whole-wheat tortillas, popcorn, tomato juice and milk. Low glycemic load foods generally have high fiber and nutrition content, so these foods are great for people losing weight because they keep you feeling satisfied longer and gives you more energy throughout the day.

Medium Glycemic Load ranges from 11 to 19 and include such foods as: whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, rice cakes, barley, bulgur, honey, fruit juices with added sugar, brown rice, graham crackers, pretzels, and potato chips.

High Glycemic Load is anything over 20 and causes dramatic increases in your blood sugar levels. Foods with high glycemic load include: beverages with high sugar content, candy, couscous, white rice, white pasta, French fries, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, cereals with added sugar, macaroni and cheese, pizza, raisins and dates. When consuming foods with high glycemic load, your blood sugar levels will quickly spike and then crash soon after, leaving you to crave food and eat more calories.

Glycemic Load Diet

In 2006, Rob Thompson MD, a cardiologist, developed the Glycemic Load Diet, which does not restrict the amount of calories the dieter intakes, but combines foods that have low glycemic load with lean protein and a bit of good fat. To follow the glycemic load diet, simply replace high glycemic load foods with foods that are rated lower in glycemic load.


  • Instead of reaching for candy to snack on, grab a fruit that’s low in glycemic load.
  • Replace foods made from refined grains with foods made from whole-wheat grains.
  • Say “no” to soda, and “yes” to fruit juices without any added sugar.
  • Reach for the cereals with no added sugar instead of your usual Frosted Flakes.
  • When sweetening your tea, coffee, or baked goods, use honey instead of sugar.

Sample Meal Plan #1

Breakfast: one piece of whole-grain toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and one glass of unsweetened orange juice.

Lunch: mixed green salad with sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, grilled chicken breast and your choice of nuts. Finish off with a non-fat plain yogurt mixed with fresh strawberries.

Dinner: baked herb fish, whole wheat pasta and vegetables with a side salad and fresh fruit for dessert.

Sample Meal Plan #2

Breakfast: raisin bran with skim milk and banana.

Lunch: 2 slices of whole-grain bread with 6 slices of ham, and any veggies you wish to add. Have an apple for dessert.

Dinner: whole-wheat linguini pasta with pasta sauce and chicken breast. For dessert, eat some cottage cheese with fresh fruit.

Sample Meal Plan #3

Breakfast: Breakfast: egg white omelet with your favorite veggies, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, non-stick cooking spray and 1 slice of whole-grain bread.

Lunch: greens and vegetables of your choice, with kidney beans, sliced almonds and fat-free Italian dressing. Have half a grapefruit for dessert.

Dinner: Make some barbecue chicken and serve with brown rice and roasted broccoli. Finish with a strawberry shortcake topped with almonds.

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