Our Perfect Diet
The GL, or glycemic load, tells you the value of the food you're eating in terms of weight loss or gain. To understand the GL of food, first you need to understand what the glycemic index means. The glycemic index, or GI, of a particular food, tells you whether the carbohydrates contained within it are released quickly or slowly - therefore, the GI acts as a kind of quality measure.
However, the GI only tells you about the rate at which the carbohydrate is released, rather than how much of that food is made up of carbohydrate. To find this out, you need to look at the carbohydrate grams, or points, of that particular food - but again, this doesn't tell you the whole story, because you don't know what effect that carbohydrate will have on your sugar levels. Therefore, carbohydrate grams, or points, act as a quantity measure.
GL stands for glycemic load, and this means the quantity x quality of the carbohydrate in the food that you're eating. The GL is the most effective way of understanding how much weight you stand to gain by eating that food. The glycemic load, or GL, is measured by using a point system. So a thick slice of wholemeal, wheat flour bread is given 10GLs. A large bowl of rolled oat porridge is 5GLs, a large punnet of blackberries, or 4 apricots are also equal to 5GLs.
You may think that you have a fairly healthy diet, with plenty of good food and lots of nutrients. However, it can come as a surprise to many that the foods they think are healthy, actually have a high GL score and, conversely, food you think is bad for you may not be as terrible as you thought! For example, cornflakes and corn chips have a very high GL, but on the other hand, ice cream and peanuts are much lower. This doesn't mean that we're suggesting you tuck into tubs full of peanut flavoured ice cream! Remember, if you're serious about healthy living or weight loss, you need a healthy diet with the right balance of the right types of food.
To give you an example of how widely the GL of a food can differ regardless of quantity, eating a single date will have exactly the same effect on your blood sugar levels and your weight as eating an entire punnet of strawberries!
So if you're serious about healthy living, following a healthy diet and perhaps also weight loss, then you need to follow these two simple rules regarding carbohydrates:
- Rule 1 - limit your intake to 50GLs a day maximum, and don't eat more than 40GLs a day if you're looking to achieve weight loss
- Rule 2 - for your main meals, mix low GL carbohydrates with protein rich foods.
If you’d like to find out more about the GL points in different types of food, we recommend sourcing a reference book from either the internet or your local bookshop, from authors such as Patrick Holford.