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Both the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) offer information about how carbohydrate-rich foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels. People with diabetes, insulin sensitivity or hypoglycemia are often counseled about the impact of food on their blood sugar level. The GI is a ranking of how much a carbohydrate-containing food will raise your blood sugar and insulin levels, based on a scale of 0 to 100.
Generally, the more processed and refined the food is, the higher its GI. Other factors that influence the GI include the cooking method and the protein and fat content of the food. A more specific ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food is the glycemic load (GL), which factors in the serving size of a food. A food’s GL is determined by multiplying its GI by the amount of carbohydrates it contains. Therefore, a food with a high GI can have a low GL, making the GL a more accurate tool to use.
Registered dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald are the co-founders and creators of URockGirl.com, a website dedicated to promoting wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.