Glycemic Index Vs. Glycemic Load: What’s The Difference

Whether it’s for general weight loss, blood sugar control, or gluten sensitivity, many people use the glycemic index as a way to know how their body will react to certain foods. Well, there’s another tool, the glycemic load, that can often give you an even clearer picture!

Glycemic Index

Introduced in 1981, Glycemic Index is a way of describing how blood sugar will be affected by the carbohydrates in a food. The food is indexed against white bread (the standard) and then given a number from 0 to 100, with 100 being pure glucose. 

GI is also broken up inter categories: 70+ is high, 56 to 69 is medium, and 55 or less is low. Things like candy, cookies, bread, and other foods made with refined sugar and flour sit higher on the scale. Certain fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains sit lower on it. There are also foods like fat and protein that are not included on the scale because they simply don’t have much of an impact on blood sugar levels.

Low-GI Examples:

Apple – 36
Chocolate – 40
Skim Milk – 37
Vegetable Soup – 48
Yogurt – 41

Medium-GI Examples:

Popcorn – 65
Chips – 56
French Fries – 63
Brown Rice – 68
Sweet Potato – 63

High-GI Examples:

Watermelon – 76
Instant Oatmeal – 79
Cornflakes – 81
White Rice – 73
Whole Wheat Bread – 74

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Glycemic Load

GL helps give you a better picture of the impact a food will have on your blood sugar. It uses GI and a number of other factors to estimate how quickly and high your blood sugar will actually rise. Things like the type of sugar, fat content, serving size, preparation, and more, are all taken into account for the Glycemic Load.

What does this mean for you? Well, it means that some foods might actually not be off limits like you once thought, or you can eat more of it. Some foods that are high on the Glycemic Index are actually low when it comes to Glycemic Load! Just like GI, GL is broken down into categories:


Foods with a GL of 10 or less, including hummus, carrots, lentils, watermelon, apples, pears, and popcorn.


Rice cakes, bananas, dates, pasta, certain cereals, and more are all considered medium with GL of 11 to 19.


Finally, these are foods with a GL above 20, including white rice, raisins, sweet potatoes, instant oatmeal, and more.

While Glycemic Load doesn’t open the table to everything, it definitely gives you more options thanks to a deeper understanding of how our blood sugar actually works.

The latest episode of the Atomic Health Podcast briefly touches on this subject, along with tons of other insightful information.

This week’s episode welcomes Melanie Hesketh, Registered Holistic Nationalist, Metabolic Balance Coach, and owner of Solera Holistic Health. Join host Ashley Harris as she talks with Melanie about all things metabolic balance and why this incredible program is so much more than just for weight loss! “I have clients come to me and say I’m not seeing the same results as the first time I tried this other program. I know that’s my person. At that point it’s not about calorie deficit, there’s something more going on.”

If you ever had any questions regarding The Metabolic Balance Program, you won’t want to miss this episode!