This glycemic load calculator does exactly what the name suggests - it estimates the glycemic load of food products. Similarly to the glycemic index, glycemic load is a number that estimates how much a person's blood sugar level will rise by after eating a specific food. Read the article below to find out how to calculate glycemic load, its definition, and low and high glycemic load foods. You will also find the more comprehensive explanation for the difference between glycemic index vs glycemic load.

If you are interested in our other diabetic calculators, please check out these:

What is glycemic load - glycemic load definition

Glycemic load, just like glycemic index, is a number that estimates how much a person's blood glucose level will rise by after eating a specific food product. Individuals with diabetes will find this tool especially useful, as it can help control the disease and it's complications.

Glycemic load depends on:

  • How much carbohydrate is in the food; and
  • How much each gram of carbohydrate in the food raises blood glucose levels.

Glycemic index vs glycemic load

You hopefully now know the answer to the question "What is glycemic load?", but what is the difference between glycemic index vs glycemic load?

Glycemic load is more reliable than the glycemic index (GI) alone because it takes into account the amount of carbohydrate in the portion of food, together with how quickly it raises blood glucose levels (which is determined by GI value).

Example:

Watermelon has a high GI, but an average serving of watermelon does not contain many carbohydrates (because it mainly consists of water). Therefore, despite the high GI, the glycemic load of this food product is low.

How to calculate glycemic load

Glycemic index must be determined in laboratory conditions for each and every food, while glycemic load uses GI value and is determined using the following formula:

GL = GI * carbs / 100

where:

  • GL - glycemic load;

  • GI - glycemic index; and

  • carbs - the amount of carbohydrates in the portion.

As you can see, you need to know the glycemic index of the food product to perform this calculation. You can find it using our glycemic index calculator or a specific GI tables and databases. To find out how many carbohydrates are in your food, you can check the food label or search for it in a nutritional database.

Glycemic load calculator - how does it work?

Using the glycemic load calculator is simple. You need to know only two variables:

  • The glycemic index of the food product; and

  • The amount of carbohydrate in the quantity of food you are planning to eat.

Here is a practical example:

  1. Let's use watermelon as our first example. This fruit has a glycemic index of 80, which is classified as high. A 100 gram serving of it contains 7 grams of carbohydrates (based on NDNS data). Let's calculate the glycemic load:

    GL = GI * carbs / 100

    GL = 80 * 7 / 100

    GL = 5.6

  2. To make sure that everything is clear, let's try to calculate the glycemic load of another food product - pasta. The GI of white spaghetti is 45, which is classified as low. Let's use the average portion size of 172 grams, which contains 54 grams of carbohydrates (based on NDNS data), in our calculations:

    GL = GI * carbs / 100

    GL = 45 * 54 / 100

    GL = 24.3

What do those results mean? Check the section below and find out what are high and low glycemic load foods.

Low and high glycemic load foods

Now you know the glycemic load definition, but how to interpret the results?

Low glycemic load foods:

  • If one serving of food has a glycemic load of 10 or lower, it is considered low;
  • A typical serving size of foods with a low glycemic load almost always has a low glycemic index; and
  • Foods that have a low glycemic index, but have a lot of carbohydrates in their portion size, can have a high glycemic load (as shown in our pasta example).

High glycemic load foods:

  • A glycemic load of 20 or higher is considered high; and
  • Foods with a high glycemic index do not necessarily have a high glycemic load (as shown in the watermelon example).

Medium glycemic load foods:

  • A glycemic load between 11 and 19 is considered medium.
Joanna Michałowska, PhD candidate