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Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load

Just when you started to get a handle on the glycemic index (GI) of foods, there's another value to grasp — glycemic load (GL). The GI ranks specific carbohydrates from zero to 100, based on the rate in which they affect your blood sugar levels. A GI of 1 to 55 is low, 56 to 69 is medium, and 70 to 100 is high — these high-ranking foods should be limited.

Glycemic load measures the blood-sugar-raising power per serving of food. Here's the lowdown on the equations used to figure the load. First you multiply the GI of a food by the amount of grams of carbohydrate in a specific serving, and then that number is divided by 100. A glycemic load of 10 or less is low, 11 to 19 is medium, 20 or more is high. If you add up the glycemic load amounts for your entire day, a total GL amount of 80 or less is considered low. Your daily GL shouldn't exceed 120.

Both measurements are useful. Glycemic load helps you select appropriate portion sizes, while glycemic index helps you differentiate between good and bad carbohydrate choices. The lower each number, the less it affects blood sugar levels.

Looking at some food's values may help you understand the two better. So


Food GI GL
1 medium apple 38 6
1 small banana 47 8
10 baby carrots 35 2
1 medium baked potato with skin 76 23
1 medium orange 42 5
1 medium pear 38 4
1 cup white rice 64 23
1 cup brown rice 55 18
1 cup regular pasta 44 18
1 cup whole wheat pasta 37 14
1 cup skim milk 32 4
1 oz. cashews 22 2
1 oz. peanuts 14 1
1 oz. jelly beans 78 22
2 tsp sugar 68 7
1 cup lentils 29 5
1 cup kidney beans 28 7
1 cup barley 25 11

If you don't see a specific food on this chart, then go to, enter the name of a food, and it'll tell you the GL.


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