ASK THE EXPERT
What does Glycaemic Load mean?
QI’ve heard of the Glycaemic Index before, but what is the Glycaemic Load? Emma P, via email
Great question! For those who aren’t up to speed, the Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of how quickly the glucose contained in carbohydrates breaks down and enters the bloodstream. Foods with a lower GI, such as lentils and wholegrain bread, are released slowly, helping you to stay full for longer, compared to high-GI foods like white bread and jelly beans.
On the other hand, the Glycaemic Load (GL) considers not just the
quality of carbohydrates, but the quantity of carbohydrates in your overall serving, and how this affects your blood sugar levels. In practical terms, this means that if you eat a large portion of low-GI foods in one sitting, your body still has to work hard in order to digest all of those 'good' carbohydrates.
There’s a formula to calculate the GL of a meal, but there’s no need to overly complicate things and spend your day calculating away. Stick to choosing mostly low-GI foods, and manage your GL by having small but regular portions, especially if you have insulin resistance or diabetes. Unless you’re an endurance athlete, there’s no need to carb load!
Try these easy low-GI swaps: go for wholegrain bread and wholemeal pasta over white; add canned lentils or chickpeas to your salad; and swap those processed cereals for rolled oats or natural muesli.