Food for Thought

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Don’t Get Carried Away with Glycemic Load
‘Glycemic index’, ‘glycemic load’ and ‘glycemic response’ are not the same write Alan Barclay, Prof Jennie Brand-Miller, and Prof Tom Wolever in Diabetes Care (Volume 28, Number 7, July 2005). ‘The evidence as it stands suggests that for preventing type 2 diabetes, we ought to encourage low GI carbohydrate foods but not those that simply have low “net carbs”, low GL or produce a low glycemic response.’

Glycemic load does not distinguish low carbs from slow carbs!
Low GI and low GL are not equivalent, ‘especially in preventing and managing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.’ This is because diets with a lower GL can be achieved either by lowering the GI of the carbohydrate or by reducing carbohydrate intake at the expense of consuming more fat or protein. So, going with GL on its own could mean someone is eating a decidedly unhealthy diet, too low in carbs and full of the wrong sorts of fats and proteins.

When you choose low GI carbs, you are getting a healthy, safe diet with an appropriate quantity and quality of carbohydrate.

When it comes to a low GI diet, however, the evidence to date shows that when people choose low GI carbs, they’re getting a healthy, safe diet with an appropriate quantity and quality of carbohydrate. In fact, they are often increasing their intake of nutritional powerpack foods such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and wholegrains.

In addition, the low GI ‘this for that’ strategy is also an easy option for most people whatever their cultural background or diet. Simply by choosing the low GI foods within a category (breads, breakfast cereals, grains etc) they are automatically choosing lower GL foods, too. Fruit and vegetables play a major role in a low GI diet and, bar potatoes, are not restricted. People are encouraged to eat around 7 serves of fruit and vegetables a day because they are not major contributors of carbohydrate even if, like watermelon, they have a high GI.

The bottom line

  • Use GI to identify your best carbohydrate choices.
  • Take care with portion size to limit the overall GL of your diet.