The Glycemic Index is the Past, Use This Instead!

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People have been using Glycemic Index for a long time. While it shows you something, it is not 100 percent correct. Let's refresh our minds a bit:

What is the Glycemic Index exactly?

It is a scale ranging from 0 to 100, showing how fast the carbohydrate in foods and beverages raises blood glucose levels. The closer the nutrient to 100, the faster it raises your blood sugar. Generally speaking, it's worth to consume low glycemic index foods, because their carbohydrate content converts to glucose slowly, therefore your body has to store less body fat.

GI was founded originally to control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. One would think, if this thing is suitable to monitor a disease, it must work very well.

But it has a very serious flaw.


Namely, the GI does not pay attention to:

  • how much carbs there are in a certiain food/beverage,
  • how processed the food is,
  • which other foods do you eat alongisde,
  • how do you prepare your food (with oil? or you boil it?),
  • how much did you eat from that food.

That means you can't put your meal plan together just by looking at the GI, since nobody on Earth can only consume protein, carbs, or fat alone. We consume all three at once: even chicken breast and protein powder contains some fats and carbs.

According to the GI, a protein shake (with water) is not that great, even though in most powders you will find like 2 grams of sugars per serving. And nobody will get fat because of 2 grams of sugar a day.

Glycemic Load, the new king

Glycemic Load (GL) does not only look at GI, but considers all the things the GI does not care about (see those bullet points above).

One unit of GL shows the effects of approximately 1 gram of sugar in the body. We must do a little bit of math here, this is how you can calculate the GL number of a certain nutrient:

The GL number of a 100-gram seving of a food depends on how many carbohydrates are in it, this has to be multiplied with the GI number of the nutrient, and at the end you have to divide this number by 100.

For example: the GI of the watermelon is 72. It's pretty high, huh? Well, not so fast! 100 grams of watermelon only has 5 grams of sugar. 5x72/100= 3.6, this is its GL number.

The lower GL score, the better (same with GI):

  • below 10: low
  • between 11-19: medium
  • above 20: high

So please, do NOT avoid watermelon because it has high GI. That means absolutely nothing: you have to look at its GL number, which is low.

As you may have recognised, we will need to use GI, but only because it is needed to calculate what really matters: the GL-score.

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