Thursday, December 1, 2011

How carbohydrates affect your body. Part 3- Glycemic Load

Glycemic load is the combination of two factors: a food's glycemic index, and a standardized portion of 100 grams.  What this means is glycemic load uses the glycemic index of a food along with the portion of carbs to create a more accurate measure of how a food will affect your blood sugar. Glycemic Load = GI x net carbs/100.  Since glucose is used as the standard these equations are divided by 100 to find glycemic load.

The glycemic load of a medium apple is 5.7.

A GL of 20 or higher is considered high, 11-19 is considered medium, and 10 or less is considered low.  I do not actually take the time to measure out the glycemic load in every meal I eat, even when I am looking to lose weight, the point of this is to help you actually understand what effects the food you eat will produce so you can plan accordingly.

The main point of this article is so that you understand that a small portion of a high GI carbohydrate will produce a response equivalent to a medium or large serving of a low GI carbohydrate.  This is important for several reasons; when you are trying to lose weight no one likes to starve and its not productive to do so, if you understand that 1 cup of brown rice will have the same effect as 1/2 cup of white rice, you can eat more  and still maintain weight, or eat the same amount but with a lower GI food and lose weight.  The main reason this works is because of the hormone insulin I mentioned early.  Less insulin is produced with a lower GL food, which means less fat storage.  This is how you can eat the same amount or even more and still lose weight.

The basic idea is to take a look at the nutrition labels on your food and find out how many carbohydrates are present.  On the label it should list protein, fats, and carbohydrates, present in grams, in one serving of the food.  The best way to gauge how many carbohydrates are actually in a serving, is to find the total carbs and then subtract fiber, which will give you the net carbs present (the carbs that will actually affect blood sugar).  For example a food has 25 grams of carbohydrates in a serving with 9 grams of fiber, you subtract 9 from 25 to get 16 grams of total net (or impact) carbs.  If you already know that this is a low GI food then it would be an excellent choice for a carbohydrate source.  Without even thinking about it much at all you should be able to take a look at a label, look at sugar content and fiber content and tell if the carb source is a healthy one.  Labels that show a lot of sugar (5 or more grams) comparitive to total carbs is usually a bad choice, while a label that lists a high amount of fiber (2-10 grams) is usually a good choice.

Glycemic Load combats the main problems with Glycemic Index.  For instance, a carrot is actually a high glycemic food, however the amount of net carbs present in a serving of carrots are low so the glycemic load ends up being small as well.  If you would like an excellent resource to find glycemic loads along with nutrition data check out this site.  They have an extensive collection of foods with in depth nutrition data and they always show glycemic load as well.  Start out looking up the foods you eat, after a while you will have a good understanding of which foods have a favorable glycemic loads and can make better choices based off that knowledge.  Remember, if you are looking to lose or maintain weight, or lose extra fat always avoid processed and refined carbohydrates: white bread, white rice, white potatoes, sugars, sweets, and white pasta.

Avoid these for a smaller waist.

Now that you understand: what carbohydrates are, the types of carbohydrates, the glycemic index, glycemic load, and net carbs, I will show you how to put it all together in my next post to lose weight or build muscle.


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