Glycemic Load (GL)

What Is Glycemic Load (GL)?

Glycemic Load is a further refinement of the idea of Glycemic Index, and is much more practical for use in real life as it measures the actual effect on your blood sugar of eating one portion of something. This concept is much more useful in controlling your blood sugar and your weight.

Glycemic Index (GI) is based on the idea that different carbohydrates have a different effect on your blood glucose level as they are absorbed into your body. The higher the Glycemic Index (GI) the more rapidly the carbohydrate is absorbed, and the more glucose appears in your blood. Slowly absorbed carbohydrates have a lower GI index as they are more slowly absorbed, and the body can cope better with them, so that they don’t raise the blood glucose levels so much. It is the sudden rise in blood glucose that causes the body to store this glucose and fat, and this is when you put on weight. It is also the time when people with diabetes have problems controlling their blood sugar levels, as the body is already struggling to keep blood glucose under control, so diabetics should be eating foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) anyway.

The Glycemic Load (GL) takes into account not only the Glycemic Index (GI) or how quickly the carbohydrate is absorbed, but also takes into account the amount of it that you eat, and so is a much better indicator of its actual effect on the body.

To calculate the Glycemic Load (GL) , remember that the Glycemic Index (GI) is the blood glucose effect of 100g available carbohydrate compared to 100g of glucose, so divide this by 100 to give the glucose effect of 1g of available carbohydrate, and then multiply it by the amount of carbohydrate actually in one portion of food. Fortunately you don’t have to do this calculation yourself, as all the books listed will do this for you.

So the Glycemic Load (GL) for one medium carrot, weighing 80g, containing 6g of carbohydrate, with a Glycemic Index (GI) of 47 would be, 47 divided by 100, multiplied by 6 = 2.82 which we will round to the nearest whole number and call 3. GL greater than 20 is considered high, a GL of 11-19 is considered medium, and a GL of 10 or less is considered low

The best way to think about them is to look at Glycemic Index (GI) as a food quality measurement and to think of Glycemic Load (GL) as a measure of how much weight you will put on by eating one portion. This is a much better way than looking at the calories you eat, because this actually measures the way those calories effect your body, because not all calories are created equal.

Using Glycemic Load To Control Your Weight

Glycemic Load can be used to control your weight by controlling your blood sugar level in a very practical way, either to lose weight, maintain your weight or even if you are diabetic.

Counting the Glycemic Load (GL) units you eat throughout the day is the best way to watch your weight, so that you either keep it at the level you want, or lose weight.

For example, Patrick Holford in his Low-GL Diet books recommends eating no more than 50 GL units a day, or no more than 40 if you want to lose weight. These are best divided through the day as smaller meals, rather than eating larger meals, as this in itself improves your blood glucose profile, and helps to control your weight.

Foods with a Glycemic Load of below 10 are generally considered good, those of 15 or more are considered bad, and 10-15 are OK. Here are some examples of typical portions you are likely to eat

Good Foods

1 Apple


Bowl of Porridge


1 Medium Carrot


OK Foods

1 Banana


2 Wheetabix


3 Small Potatoes


Bad Foods

8 Dried Dates


2 Shredded Wheat


1 Portion White Rice


Below is a Gl Table for some common Foods

Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs Per Serving
Broad beans, frozen 3 80g 5g
Pea, frozen 4 80g 7g
Pumpkin 12 80g 18g
Sweet corn on the cob 8 80g 16g
Carrots 2 80g 6g
Parsnips 4 80g 8g
Potato 22 150g 26g
Sweet potato 22 150g 32g
Yam 20 150g 37g
Bakery Products   & Desserts
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Banana Cake – with sugar 14 60g 29g
Carrot Cake - with coconut flour 8 60g 23g
Chocolate cake- packet mix 20 111g 52g
Doughnut – wheat dough, fried 15 50g 20g
Muffin – plain, wheat flour 11 50g 23g
Pancakes 17 80g 26g
Puff Pastry 11 50g 20g
Scones – packet mix 8 25g 9g
Vanilla Cake 24 111g 58g
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Bagel 24 70g 35g
French Baquette 10 30g 18g
Pain au lait 20 60g 32g
Sunflower and barley bread 8 30g 12g
Wholemeal barley flour bread 13 30g 20g
Buckwheat bread 13 30g 19g
Chickpea flour bread 7 20g 13g
Gluten Free White Bread 3 30g 8g
Rye Bread 7 30g 14g
Breakfast Cereals
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
All-Bran™ 9 30g 20g
Bran cereal 5 30g 12g
Coco Pops™ 20 30g 26g
Cornflakes 20 30g 25g
Frosties™ 14 30g 26g
Fruit & Fibre 13 30g 21g
Grapenuts 16 30g 22g
Alpen Muesli 11 30g 19g
Porrige Scottish 13 250g 24g
Shredded Wheat 13 30g 20g
Special K™ 14 30g 21g
Weetabix™ 16 30g 22g
Cereal Grains
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Barley kernels – boiled 25mins 10 150g 42g
Corn granules 15 150g 28g
Sweet corn 20 150g 33g
Couscous, rehydrated 9 150g 14g
Millet porridge 22 150g 36g
Rice, boiled white, type NS 29 150g 40g
Rice Long grain, white (Uncle Bens) 14 150g 43g
Jasmine Fragrant rice 37 150g 42g
Basmati, white boiled 8 min 22 150g
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Apple – Golden Delicious 6 120g 16g
Apricots 3 120g 9g
Banana (Canada) 16 120g 25g
Dates 18 60g 42g
Grapes, black 11 120g 18g
Kiwi fruit 7 120g 12g
Nectarines 4 120g 9g
Oranges, type NS 4 120g 11g
Marmalade 8 30g 18g
Pineapple 6 120g 10g
Raisins 28 60g 44g
Sultanas 25 60g 43g
Watermelon 5 120g 6g
Fast / Convenience   Food
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Fillet-O-Fish™ burger 20 128g 30g
Hamburger 17 95g 25g
Chicken korma and rice 21 300g 48g
Chow mein, chicken 18 300g 38g
Cottage pie 22 300g 34g
Cumberland fish pie 12 300g 31g
Lasagne, type NS 10 300g 31g
Mushroom stroganoff with rice 11 300g 43g
Pasta bake, tomato and mozzarella 10 300g 43g
Product Glycemic Load (GL) Serving   Size Carbs   Per Serving
Brownies 11 50g 27g
Chocolate, milk 12 50g 28g
Chocolate, white, Milky Bar 13 50g 29g
Corn chips, plain, salted 11 50g 25g
Apricot and Almond bar 5 30g 15g
Jelly beans, assorted colors 22 30g 28g
Mars Bar® 27 60g 40g
Milky Way® 26 60g 42g
Nougat 4 30g 12g