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To Track Carbs, Tap Into the Glycemic Index … and Its Cousin

Posted on December 20, 2018


By Len Canter, HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 10, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Rather than just counting carbs, you might want to get familiar with the glycemic index and the glycemic load, numeric weighting systems that rank carb-based foods based on how much they raise blood sugar.

While monitoring these indicators might be especially helpful for those with diabetes, they also can be useful tools to keep others from developing diabetes and even lower the risk of heart disease, especially for women and for people who are overweight.

The glycemic index is the better known of the two. It's a measure of the blood glucose-raising potential of carbohydrate foods compared to a reference food, like pure glucose or a slice of white bread.


The glycemic load goes one step further. It takes into account both the types of carbs in a food and the amount of carbs in a serving. The lower a food's glycemic load, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels.

A food's glycemic load gives you a more exact measurement than the glycemic index alone because even though most healthy foods are both low-glycemic index and low-glycemic load, a few higher glycemic index foods -- like bananas, pineapples and watermelon -- actually have low-to-moderate glycemic loads and can fit into many diets. That's important because those three fruits in particular deliver many important nutrients.

Lowering the glycemic load of your diet happens naturally when you increase your intake of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and non-starchy vegetables, and decrease foods like potatoes, white bread
and sugary treats.

Using the glycemic indexes will help you refine your choices as you take steps to improve your diet.


More information: To help you further understand the impact of foods on blood sugar, check out the glycemic index and glycemic load page on the website of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
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Here are some questions and conversations from DiabetesTeam:

I have been a diabetic for 20+years. What things other than counting carbs and managing sugars should be done?

What type of foods (carbs) should I eat? Been officiating baseball & now doing basketball to keep fit and lose weight. However, it is a challenge eating proper foods to keep my blood sugar up whilst working out at these sports.

Does anyone here (besides counting carbs) calculate the glycemic index and glycemic load of the foods in their meals?

"Believe me, it's vary hard to find truly low carb prepared foods in the super market, so I almost always cook from scratch. I have found many, many yummy low carb recipes listed in these groups."

"I have found that by replacing sugar with monk fruit sweetener, which has a glycemic index of 0, you can make any sweet snack without the effect of sugar. It replaces sugar at a 1 to 1 basis and taste identical to standard sugar with no after taste."

"I eat a half cup of blueberries as a snack. Great tasting, sweet but low glycemic index. I snack on cold cut wraps, ya know ham or Turkey rolled with a slice of cheese. String cheese is a great snack. Sugar free chocolate pudding, hard boiled eggs. All of these are tasty, low sugar, low carb satiating snacks".

How do you maintain a 'diabetes-friendly' diet?
Share in the comments below or directly on DiabetesTeam.

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