High blood glucose levels for a long period can lead to a group of metabolic diseases which is known as diabetes mellitus. Other common metabolic syndromes which are considered popular diabetes are glycaemic index and glycaemic load.
Both the concepts of diabetes are related to nutritional factors.
- The glycaemic index (GI) measures how quickly food raises blood sugar levels. In contrast, glycaemic load (GL) considers the speed of blood sugar increase and the number of carbohydrates in the food.
- GI is a percentage relative to a reference food, glucose or white bread. At the same time, GL is calculated by multiplying the GI by the grams of carbohydrates in a portion of food.
- GL provides a more accurate representation of a food’s impact on blood sugar levels, as it considers both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates consumed.
Glycaemic Index vs Glycaemic Load
GI is a numerical ranking system that assigns a value to different types of carbohydrates based on how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. The glycemic load is a measure that takes into account the number of carbohydrates in a serving, providing a more accurate picture of blood sugar levels than the GI value alone.
The glycaemic index is referred to the measure of the potential of blood glucose-raising of the carbohydrate-containing food that is compared to a reference food which is generally pure glucose.
The equation which is used to determine the value of GI is through the incremental area under the glucose curve (iAUC) by the test food divided by the iAUC of glucose, which is multiplied by 100.
On the other hand, the glycaemic load is obtained by multiplying the quality of the carbohydrate present in a given food by the amount of carbohydrate which is present in a serving of that food.
The equation used to determine the value of GL is multiplying the glycaemic index by carbohydrate and dividing the product by 100.
|Parameters of Comparison||Glycaemic Index||Glycaemic Load|
|Definition||It is a ranking system in which carbohydrate-containing food are ranked based on their effect on blood glucose level||It is a ranking system in which food that is rich in carbohydrates can measure the amount of carbohydrate in every serving|
|Measurements||Measures carbohydrate quality||Measures carbohydrate quality or quantity of the food|
|Formula||GI = (iAUC test food / iAUC glucose) × 100||GL = GI × carbohydrate / 100|
|Expression||The value is expressed relative to glucose||The value is expressed relative to carbohydrate|
|Implementation||Glycaemic index helps in deciding the food choices||Glycaemic load helps in determining the food proportions and sizes in a meal|
What is Glycaemic Index?
A glycaemic index can rank different carbohydrate-containing food on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their effect on the blood glucose level.
Foods that are high in glycaemic index get digested quickly and rapidly get absorbed in the bloodstream, while food with a low glycaemic index takes time to break down.
Foods containing a low glycaemic index contain only carbs that are slowly digested and produce a very low rise or spike in blood glucose levels.
An example of low glycaemic index food is kidney beans. And high glycaemic index food contains carbs that are rapidly digested and can produce a steep, rapid and large rise in the level of blood glucose.
An example of high glycaemic index food is boiled potatoes.
People who consume high glycaemic index food may observe a sharp increase in the postprandial concentration of blood glucose that even is seen to decline rapidly.
Foods that have a low glycaemic index often produce results that lower the concentration of blood glucose and are even seen declining gradually.
The context of the application of the glycaemic index is on the quantity of food and the carbohydrate contained in that food.
The drawback of a glycaemic index is that it cannot measure the insulin produced due to the rise in blood sugar. The limitation is seen in similar foods which have the same glycaemic index but have the potential to produce different amounts of insulin.
What is Glycaemic Load?
Glycaemic load is referred to as the ranking system, which is used for carbohydrate-rich foods. The system effectively measures the number of carbohydrates in every serving of food.
The glycaemic load can measure both the proportion of carbohydrates in a particular food and the proportion of each gram consumed that can raise blood sugar levels.
The ideal rank of the glycaemic load is 10. Food that ranks under 10 has little or no impact on blood sugar, while food with a glycaemic load range of 10 to 20 moderately affects blood sugar.
Foods with a glycaemic load above 20 have the potential to cause blood sugar spikes.
People are often reminded of making food choices and nutritional supplements showing a low glycaemic load to control diabetes.
The formula for calculating glycaemic load is by multiplying the glycaemic index by carbohydrate and dividing the product by 100. GL = GI × carbohydrate /100.
The working of the equation needs the values of the glycaemic index of the food. Glycaemic load plays an essential role in people suffering from diabetes.
Glycaemic load helps determine the quantities of food, which helps maintain good blood glucose levels in the body. The calculation of glycaemic load is very accurate and helps in determining meal proportions.
Main Differences Between Glycaemic Index and Glycaemic Load
- Glycaemic Index is the way of deciding food choices, while Glycaemic Load helps in working out the different portions and sizes of different foods while comparing with each other in their effect on blood glucose-raising.
- The glycaemic index does not measure the number of carbs in every serving of food, while glycemic load measures the number of carbs in every serving of food.
- The glycemic index is calculated through the incremental area under the glucose curve by the test food is divided by the iAUC of glucose, which is multiplied by 100, while the glycaemic load is by multiplying the glycaemic index by carbohydrate and dividing the product by 100.
- The glycemic index does not denote the amount of carbohydrates in a portion of food, while glycemic load denotes the amount of carbohydrates in a food.
- The glycemic index is a close approximate value and is not preferred much, while Glycemic load is an accurate, precise value and is highly preferred.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.