Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight
Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight

Today is the 5th part of the series entitled Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight

First off, you should know what Glycemic Load (GL) is:

Glycemic Load – Is a ranking system for carbohydrate content in food portions based on their glycemic index and portion size.

Next you need to know what Glycemic Index (GI) is:

Glycemic Index – Is the measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels – in other words how fast do the carbohydrates you eat enter your blood stream, the faster it is the higher the glycemic index. A Glycemic Index of 55 or lower is considered low.

Example of Glycemic Index Foods

  • Low GI (55 or less) – Most fruit and vegetables, grainy breads, pasta, milk, brown rice
  • Medium GI (56 thru 70) – Sweet potato, table sugar, white rice
  • High GI (Over 70) – Baked potato, watermelon, white bread, Rice Krispies (extruded cereals), Donuts.

By leaps and bounds carbohydrates are the biggest food group, and there are many “diets” out there that tell you to avoid carbohydrates like the plague. The reason why those diets don’t work long term is because your body needs carbohydrates for energy. You cannot live on just a protein diet alone. Why? Because you will have no energy to actually do stuff (like exercise, go to work, etc.) to keep the weight off.

Glycemic Index and Diabetes

The Glycemic Index was “invented” back in 1981 by Dr. Thomas Wolever and Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto to measure how food containing 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrates rise glycemia (the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood). This was a revelation for people with diabetes. As it gave the diabetic person a measuring stick into what they could and could not eat to maintain a healthy diet and keep their insulin levels stable and their insulin level in check.

In more simple terms, your body uses glucose as its primary energy source (Now you understand why No-Carb diets don’t work … No energy). Insulin is a hormone that tells your body to quit burning fat and to start using glucose in your blood for energy. Therefore people with diabetes need a lower carbohydrate intake than people without.

Glycemic Load – The Watermelon and Red Meat example

While the glycemic index tells you how carbohydrates turn into sugar and go to your bloodstream, it does not tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a food. You need to know both to really understand a food’s effect on blood glucose. As I stated above, watermelon has a high GI so naturally you would think that is bad for you and you should avoid it.  NOT TRUE. This is the information left out of most diets. The glycemic load of watermelon is very low. In other words, while the GI of watermelon is high, there is not a lot of it.

I’ll use steak as another example: While red meat is high in saturated fat, if you’re only eating a 4 ounce steak there is not enough there to be overly concerned about…unless you are eating it on a daily basis.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight

Here is a table of some glycemic index and load values for some foods:

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values for Selected Foods
(Relative to Glucose)
Food Glycemic Index
Serving size Carbohydrate per serving (g) Glycemic Load per serving
Dates, dried 103 2 oz 40 42
Cornflakes 81 1 cup 26 21
Jelly beans 78 1 oz 28 22
Puffed rice cakes 78 3 cakes 21 17
Russet potato (baked) 76 1 medium 30 23
Doughnut 76 1 medium 23 17
Soda crackers 74 4 crackers 17 12
White bread 73 1 large slice 14 10
Table sugar (sucrose) 68 2 tsp 10 7
Pancake 67 6″ diameter 58 39
White rice (boiled) 64 1 cup 36 23
Brown rice (boiled) 55 1 cup 33 18
Spaghetti, white; boiled 10-15 min 44 1 cup 40 18
Spaghetti, white; boiled 5 min 38 1 cup 40 15
Spaghetti, whole wheat; boiled 37 1 cup 37 14
Rye, pumpernickel bread 41 1 large slice 12 5
Oranges, raw 42 1 medium 11 5
Pears, raw 38 1 medium 11 4
Apples, raw 38 1 medium 15 6
All-BranTM cereal 38 1 cup 23 9
Skim milk 32 8 fl oz 13 4
Lentils, dried; boiled 29 1 cup 18 5
Kidney beans, dried; boiled 28 1 cup 25 7
Pearled barley; boiled 25 1 cup 42 11
Cashew nuts 22 1 oz 9 2
Peanuts 14 1 oz 6 1

Weight loss Q & A

Question: Ok fine Charles I get all that, but what the heck does all this have to do with weight loss, that is the title of this blog right?

Answer: Yeah it is, and im glad you asked, here is how it works:

As you already know glycogen is carbs stored inside your body. What glycogen is is a storage unit made up of millions upon millions of glucose (sugar) units. When glycogen is stored it can hold about 3x its weight in water. The average person (give or take) can store around 500 grams of glycogen. This number varies depending on the size and weight and how healthy a person is, there is no real cut and dry number. But for the sake of this blog we will use 500(g) as a baseline benchmark.

Now I just explained that glycogen can hold 3x its weight in water. So for all the math majors out there if we take the baseline benchmark of 500(g), this means that about 1500 grams of water or about 4.5 pounds/2.2kg. Got it? Good.

Now lets take one of those all protein diets that are the fad these days. So when you do one of these diets you consume damn near ZERO carbs. Therefore, that means if you read and understood what I just wrote above about GI & GL you will know that carbs equal energy for the body. So when you are partaking in one of those diets you have to get your carbs from somewhere. So let’s just say you used up 95% of the glycogen stored in your muscles to keep you alive while doing one of these diets, and then you will lose about 4 pounds of weight. So you think to yourself…Horray! This Zero Carb diet thing really works. Little do you know is you really haven’t lost any fat, just water weight (this is bad) from reduced glycogen stores.

Now you don’t have to be a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate to figure out that the minute that you start back eating carbs, your going to put that weight (water) right back on and then some. Why? Because your body now thinks that there is a shortage of food and needs to store fat so when the next drought season comes it will be ready.

How does this apply to me?

Question: Ok I get that, kinda but I still don’t know how I can apply this to what I should be eating. I mean tie all this stuff together, so I can actually do something about it and not just read about it.

Answer: Right on, well let’s just keep this simple. The easiest way for me to remember this stuff is to go by the 40/30/30 rule.

  • 40% of your calories (daily) should be from Carbohydrates
  • 30% of your calories (daily) should be from Protein
  • 30% of your calories (daily) should be from Fat

Since we are talking about GI & GL those calories should all be Low GI and Low GL. (low GI as mentioned before is 55, low GL is under 10)No, that does not mean you can never eat a donut or have a fat ass piece of Sara Lee cheesecake . . . that is lame. I mean if you wish to do that then knock yourself out; but for normal people, you should (must) have 1 day per week (no more), where you can eat all that the junk food you want. Seriously, what would be the point of eating correctly all the time if you can’t splurge every once in a while. Depriving yourself of what you love to eat is just straight up torture and a sucky way to live life.

So there you have it, Keep your GI & GL load low, but keep one day out of the week to go crazy, you need it physically and mentally because you are sarcastic….yeah that was ultra lame I know.

This was the 5th part of the series entitled Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight.


Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd

Self processed fitness missionary and author of most of the ridiculous fitness articles written on Charles Lloyd I am not really a writer, but a workout fiend who happens to have a blog. The single mission of this website is very simple: Get You In Shape. I have been blessed with the gift of good health and want to share it with you. Join Me.

    2 replies to "Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index How to NOT diet eat well and still lose weight"

    • Paula Hallman

      Hello, I’m new to all of this and have a question you’ve possibly answered in all of the above wonderful information. What is a good range, taking into consideration of the 40/30/30 rule, of GL on a daily basis, espcially for someone with diabetes having and A1C of 6.3. There is TMI out there. One could go insane and thow away everything in the pantry. Eat this, don’t eat that, GL, GI, Can you suggest a sensible cookbook (for single, not-quite-elderly person). I have pulled so much hair, I might have to go the Brittanny way….shave it off!!

      Blessings and best regards, Paula Hallman

    • Charles Lloyd

      I totally understand what you mean. Try Eating for Life by Bill Phillips. If you follow that guide you pretty much cannot go wrong. Thanks for stopping by Paula.

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