Note: Food Glycemic Index and Load Table at the bottom of this page.
Glycemic Index (GI) measures how carbohydrates (carbs) whether sugar, starch or fiber affect your blood glucose levels.
Glycemic Load (GL) combines both quality and quantity of carbs. It’s a good way to compare glucose impacts of different types and amounts of food. Although this is mainly useful in scientific research, while GI is more typically useful to people who are either over weight and/or suffering from diabetes.
High GI carbs, particularly with a high GL to boot, cause your blood sugar to spike quickly after eating and then crash. While Low GI carbs are digested and released slowly for sustained energy. Frequent spikes can start to increase your blood sugar levels over the long-term.
This is particularly important for people with diabetes. However, understanding a bit about how carbs and sugars affect your body can help you avoid energy crashes, understand the benefits of different types of carbs for your training and also minimize your chances of becoming pre-diabetes or worse a diabetic in the future.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid carbs and all carbs are bad. Or even that you should never eat any sugar, but it’s worth understanding the difference, particularly between simple (refined) and complex carbs. Simple, refined carbs are what can cause the problem and complex carbs made complex by fiber which is the non-digestible part of a carbohydrate. This part of the carbohydrate adds bulk and swells in the stomach and studies suggest a diet with the right amount of fiber can help control blood sugar.
However, it’s worth noting, this doesn’t mean you should over consume fibrous foods until the cows come home. Too much fiber can also wreak havoc on your bowels, so the key here (as with all The Lean Exec thinking) is to find a balance.
To help you find the balance, we’ve created a simple table to quickly identify and manage GI, GL and generally carb consumption.
Note: If you want to simplify things. Based on the NHS (UK) recommendation of around 30 grams of added sugar a day and the American Heart Association (AHA) suggested max of – Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons). Depending on your size and condition, staying between 25 – 40 grams of added sugar a day is probably a good idea. Assuming that’s spread over 5 meals and snacks that’s a max of around 8 grams per meal/snack. As a more general rule of thumb, sticking to food products with under 10g of sugar per 100g the majority of the time should keep you on the right track. For reference foods with 22.5g of sugar per 100g are high sugar and 5g or less is low.
Glycemic Index and Load Table:
Change the grams (g) and milliliters (ml) in the weight column (green) to see the carbs, sugars, fiber and Glycemic load of the quantity of food consumed.