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What's the Glycemic Load?

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There's a lot of lingo thrown at you when you have diabetes. Here we've collected the must-know terms and translated them into plain language.

Glycemic Load 

(gly-SEE-mik) (lod)

What it means: The glycemic load is a calculation that takes into account the type of carb as well as how much of it you eat, using the food's glycemic index (GI) rating.

What it means to you: While the glycemic index is a good way of showing which carbs will cause the lowest and highest fluctuations in blood sugar, it doesn’t take into consideration the number of carbs you might consume — that is, the actual amount of the given food that you will actually be eating. The number of carbs eaten — not just the type of carb — can also affect blood glucose levels, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. That’s why researchers developed the glycemic load.

The lower a food's glycemic load number, the less it will cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. A glycemic load of 20 or more is considered high, 11 to 19 is medium, and 10 or under is low. You can calculate the glycemic load of a food by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate in grams per serving and dividing the total by 100. Here are some examples:

Food

Glycemic
Index

Carbs/
Serving
(grams)

Equation

Glycemic
Load

hummus

6

5

6(5)/100
=.3

0

honey, pure

58

21

58(21)/100
=12.18

12

instant oatmeal

83

22

83(22)/100
=18.26

18

pasta, boiled

54

48

54(48)/100
=25.9

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on March 15, 2016.

 

 — Compiled by Laura Magnifico. Laura is a freelance writer in Stamford, CT.

Reviewed by Shira R. Goldenholz, MD, MPH on March 27, 2016.
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