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Understanding the Difference between Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

Much of the fight against diabetes will be fought on the ‘diet battlefield’. There’s just no avoiding the fact that your diet plays the biggest role in keeping your diabetes under control.

While exercising and de-stressing is important, nothing comes close to impacting one’s diabetes as much as their diet. Because of this, there’s a lot of misconception about the foods a diabetic should and should not eat.

For starters, there is often a lot of talk about GI foods. GI refers to glycemic index. What that means is that foods that are starchy and high in sugar will have a high number on glycemic index chart.

A food that has a high GI will raise your blood sugar levels. The general idea is that you should avoid eating these foods. However, very often, people do not take another point into consideration.

That point is the glycemic load. Glycemic load is calculated by dividing the GI of a food by 100 and multiplying it by the weight of the carbohydrates consumed.

If all that seems complicated, it just comes down to this – how much carbs are you consuming? Eating 200 grams of white rice will raise your blood sugar levels much more than eating about 10 jelly beans.

While the jelly beans have a GI of 80 and the white rice only has a GI of 38, the quantity of carbs consumed will have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels. So, your goal should be to consume carbs that have a low GI and also consume them in moderation.

There are several diets that aim for low-carb consumption, etc. The truth of the matter is that your body needs carbs. Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet is not a good idea. You body needs it for energy and certain processes.

A rule of thumb for people suffering from diabetes is to consume not more than 30 to 35 grams of carbs with each meal. You should also combine your carbs with a protein. For example, rice and beans or rice and chicken.

Avoid consuming a carb with a fat. This will elevate your blood sugar levels and lead to your body storing fat more easily. It’s best to always have a protein present in your meals to counter the effect of the blood sugar spike.

The times you eat will also play a role in your blood sugar levels. When you wake up in the morning, try and make sure you have protein for breakfast. Eggs are a good choice. You can even eat a chicken drumstick. It may seem odd, but it’s a better choice than a bowl of cereal or a mini stack of pancakes.

Since your stomach is empty, if you consume carbs, your blood sugar will spike and you want to avoid this. Stick to a protein meal. If you have protein shakes at home, go ahead and drink one of those.

Keep your carbs for lunch and consume them minimally for dinner. A good practice is to consume all your carbs for the day at one meal, and this meal should be just after your exercise session.

When you have a carb meal after your workout, your glycogen stores will be depleted, and the body will use the carbs more efficiently to replenish the stores. It will be less likely to store the carbs as fat.

This should explain what the glycemic index is and why you should pay more attention to your portion sizes and the glycemic load. The GI of the food is just a gauge of how a food will spike your blood sugar level… but ultimately, it’s the quantity of the food you consume that will determine the level of your blood sugar spike.

So, monitor your food intake closely and keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. This is the key to keeping your diabetes in check.

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