Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Melissa Meier, Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian

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.

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