# 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.

(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 GlycemicIndex 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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