As a diabetic, knowing the effect your food will have on your blood glucose level is very useful – This information allows you to plan your meals and manage your diabetes better.
There are a number of resources and tools available that can help you plan a diabetic-friendly diet.
One tool that can help a lot is the “glycemic load” chart. Here’s what you need to understand about it, and how to get it to work for you:
Glycemic load (GL) is a measure used to describe the impact of a food on your blood sugar levels, taking into account the food’s glycemic index value and the quantity of carbohydrates it contains. A food’s glycemic load value is calculated by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrates in a standard serving size, and then dividing by 100.
The glycemic index (GI) is another measure used to describe how quickly a food raises your blood sugar level after you eat it. It’s a scale from 0 to 100.
It’s a more basic measure than glycemic load, and is calculated based on food portions containing 50 grams of carbohydrates. Because it’s measured in this way, it can sometimes give an unreliable idea of how much of an effect a food would have on a diabetic.
For example, to measure a food that’s very low on carbs, you’d need to test on a portion that’s much larger than a standard serving size (to get 50 grams of carbohydrates). Trying to gauge the effect of a non-standard serving size on a diabetic isn’t very useful – They’re probably not going to eat that much.
By considering the quantity of carbohydrates in food, glycemic load can provide a more accurate impression of how much that food can affect your blood glucose level.
High GL foods:
Medium GL foods:
Low GL foods:
As a diabetic, knowing a food’s glycemic load can help you predict the effect that food will have on your blood glucose level.
And because glycemic load considers the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating, it can provide a more accurate idea of how much a food will affect your blood sugar level compared to glycemic index.
For example, watermelon has a high GI value of 72. However, a standard serving of watermelon doesn’t have many carbohydrates. And if you take that into account and calculate watermelon’s glycemic load value, it’s just 2 – This tells you that eating a standard serving of watermelon is unlikely to have a significant impact on your blood sugar level.
Dates on the other hand have a low GI value of 44-53. But they’re high in carbohydrates. And if you consider that and calculate dates’ glycemic load value, it’s 48 (high) – This tells you that eating a standard serving of dates is likely to have a significant impact on your blood sugar level.
Here are some common Indian foods which have a high GL value (20 or over):
Here are some common Indian foods which have a medium GL value (between 11 and 19):
Here are some common Indian foods which have a low GL value (between 4 and 10):
Here are some common Indian foods which have a very low GL value (less than 4):
Compared to glycemic index (GI), glycemic load (GL) can give you a better idea of food’s impact on your blood glucose level. However, just as there are some challenges and limitations with glycemic index, there are some for glycemic load as well.
Here are some of the drawbacks of using glycemic load:
As a diabetic, knowing foods’ glycemic load (GL) value can be very useful – By planning meals with foods that have a lower GL, you have a better chance of reducing the impact of your diet on your blood glucose levels and lowering the risk you’ll face complications from your disease.
However, you should remember that the GL values of foods can change (depending on things like the preparation method). Also, everyone’s different, so how a food affects some people may not be how it affects you – A food’s effect on your blood glucose level can vary based on things like your level of physical activity, insulin sensitivity, and other foods you ate at the same time.
You should also bear in mind that a healthy diet isn’t limited purely to your foods’ GL value and its impact on your blood glucose level. You need to make sure you’re eating the right amount of fibre, fat, protein, nutrients and vitamins as well.
If you want to plan a healthy diet, it’s a great idea to talk to a professional healthcare specialist, like a nutritionist, dietician or diabetes educator. They’ll help you create a tailor-made diet and diabetes management plan, that takes into account your specific goals and needs.
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