While Picking Low GI Foods also Check the Glycemic Load

Written by: Damijana Prese─Źnik, M. Sc. in Nutrition

Knowing the food you eat is the base for healthy eating. So today I am going to present a not-so-well known foods' characteristic, the glycemic load. In the last few years more has been said about the GI or glycemic index, but the GL or glycemic load hasn't been mentioned as much.

Digestion of carbohydrates raises blood sugar and GI and GL tell us how much and how long it will take until it gets back to normal. This information is especially important for people with any type of diabetes, for everyone who wants to lose weight in a healthy way, and actually each of us, who is on the low glycemic diet. Picking the right foods and combining them well can help us reduce the influence of sugar on our body and keep blood glucose levels in healthy (and safe) range.

What Is the Difference between Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load?

When talking about GI we have in mind the absolute influence on the rise of the blood sugar level while the glycemic load represents the GI and the amount of carbohydrates in a portion of a food. The formula goes:

GL = GI/100 x Net Carbs, where Net Carbs can be calculated as Total Carbs reduced by Dietary Fiber.

It is way easier to explain using an example.

Let's take two foods with the same GI; for example a watermelon and croissant.
Watermelon: GI = 70, GL = 4 (120 g)
Croissant:  GI = 70, GL = 34 (120 g)

As we can see, they both have approximately the same GI (70), but their glycemic load is different. But because watermelon contains fewer carbohydrates in the 120 grams portion, it has lower GL. 

Deciding to go on a low glycemic diet you should consider low glycemic foods and pay attention to the GI as well as the GL. Especially if you have any problems with blood sugar and want to manage it successfully.

Low Glycemic Foods for Low Glycemic Diet

Let's take a look at my short list of the most common foods, distributed into groups of low (green), medium (orange) and high (red) GI also with the representation of the GL per portion.5

Food Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Potato, French fries 75 22 (150g)
White wheat bread 70 15 (30g)
Raisins 64 28 (60g)
Muffins 60 15 (60g)
Orange juice 52 15 (250ml)
Beans 40 7 (150g)
Full fat milk 27 3 (250ml)

(You can find a longer list at the bottom of this page.)

For a low glycemic diet it would be best to only choose low glycemic foods. But we know that's not always possible, so another important advice I'd like to give you is to combine high glycemic foods with the low glycemic ones or consume smaller portions to lower the glycemic load. If you have any type of diabetes, it's also recommended to measure your blood sugar regularly and to pay even more attention while consuming high glycemic foods (although when managing diabetes it is best to avoid these completely). On the other hand in case of hypoglycemia it's recommended to consume food with higher GI and GL to get your blood sugar back to normal. But don't make that a habit, rather try to keep your blood sugar in balance and enjoy the healthy life

Starchy Carbs Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Cornflakes 80 23 (30g)
Wheat biscuits 70 14 (30g)
Porridge, rolled oats 58 12 (250g)
Croissant 70 17 (60g)
Millet porridge 70 25 (150g)
Muesli, wholewheat 56 9 (30g)
White wheat bread 70 15 (30g)
Whole wheat/
whole meal bread
43 6 (30g)
Rye bread 41 5 (30g)
Corn tortilla 52 12 (50g)
White rice, boiled 64 23 (150g)
Brown rice, boiled 55 18 (150g)
Barley 25 11 (150g)
Sweet corn 53 17 (150g)
Spaghetti, white 42 20 (180g)
Spaghetti, whole meal 37 16 (180g)
Rice noodles 61 23 (180g)
Couscous 65 23 (150g)
Beans 40 7 (150g)
Cracker 64 10 (25g)
Potato, boiled 70 18 (150g)
French fries 75 22 (150g)
Waffles 75 10 (35g)
Pancake 67 39 (80g)
Protein/Dairy Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Chickpeas 28 8 (150g)
Marrowfat peas 39 7 (150g)
Soya beans 18 1 (150g)
Lentils 30 5 (150g)
Milk, full fat 27 3 (250ml)
Flavoured milk 60 5 (250ml)
Milk, skim 32 4 (250ml)
Natural yoghurt             35 3 (200g)
Fruit yoghurt 33 10 (200g)
Soy milk 34 6 (250ml)
Pudding 44 7 (100g)
Fruit Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Apple 38 6 (120g)
Orange 42 5 (120g)
Banana 52 12 (120g)
Pineapple 59 7 (120g)
Mango 51 8 (120g)
Watermelon 70 4 (120g)
Peaches 42 5 (120g)
Apple juice 40 12 (250ml)
Orange juice                   52 15 (250ml)
Grapes 46 8 (120g)
Cherries 22 3 (120g)
Raisins 64 28 (60g)
Melon 60 4 (120g)
Vegetables Glycemic index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Vegetable soup             48 9 (250ml)
Tomato juice 35 4 (250ml)
Pumpkin 75 3 (80g)
Carrots 47 3 (80g)
Fats                           Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Nuts 15 1 (50g)
Sweets and snacks Glycemic Index Glycemic Load (Portion)
Chocolate 44 13 (50g)
Ice cream 61 8 (50g)
Honey 55 10 (25g)
Candies 78 22 (30g)
Muffins 60 15 (60g)
White sugar 68 7 (10g)
Jam/jelly 51 10 (30g)
Whole-grain bars
with chocolate
62 20 (50g)
Chocolate spread 33 4 (20g)
Fructose sweetener 19 2 (10g)
Chips 63 17 (50g)
Popcorn 72 8 (20g)