A constantly stable blood sugar level protects us from cravings and supports our energy level and our performance. But which foods can you use to keep insulin secretion low and how can you avoid a sharp rise in blood sugar? What is the glycemic index and how do you calculate the glycemic load? All of these questions are clarified in this blog post, because glycemic index tables and the connection to the glycemic load serve as a basic basis for a conscious diet without extreme blood sugar reactions.

What are the advantages of the Glyx diet & what does a low glycemic index bring?

The Glyx diet The goal is to keep blood sugar stable while avoiding high insulin release. Fewer blood sugar fluctuations and lower releases of insulin - the sugar storage hormone - have many physiological advantages: energy lows and food cravings can be avoided and the hormonal system is relieved and brought into balance, which counteracts obesity, improves well-being and sleep, and losing weight is also more targeted without being forced , having to constantly resist cravings.
Why the Glyx concept alone does not necessarily lead to success and why other factors must be taken into account in order to avoid a sharp increase in blood sugar is explained in more detail below in the text.

What is a high glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) shows the effect of 50g of carbohydrates from a given food on blood sugar levels. Simple sugar in the form of glucose serves as an indicator and has a GI of 100 (high). The GI indicates the highest level of sugar in the blood, which is reached within two hours of consuming the respective food 1 . The higher this increase in blood sugar, the more insulin is released, because this hormone ensures that our cells open the barrier for the excess sugar so that it can be stored in the form of glycogen. More on this topic can be found in the article on blood sugar to read!

Excursus carbohydrates

To understand the relationships between sugar, glycemic index and Glycemic load To understand them, we first briefly clarify the basics of carbohydrates:
Carbohydrate is basically the umbrella term for various forms of sugar and, along with protein and fat, is one of the three macronutrients that supplies our body with energy. From a chemical point of view, they are divided into three forms: single sugars, disaccharides and multiple sugars. Multiple sugars (complex carbohydrates) are simply many sugars chained together; they are also known as starches. Potatoes, pasta, rice and vegetables contain these multiple sugars. Single and disaccharides are found in fruits, honey, table sugar, syrup, confectionery and many processed foods.

When it comes to blood sugar, the only important thing at this point is that our intestines only absorb single sugars, which means that double and multiple sugars first have to be broken down through digestion. We then absorb simple sugars in the form of glucose (dextrose) and fructose (fruit sugar) through the intestinal mucosa. Fructose can be converted directly into energy, but is often also converted very quickly by the liver into glucose and released into the bloodstream, or converted into fatty acids and stored. Glucose is the sugar that stimulates the storage hormone insulin. It gives our cells the signal to open the cell to glucose when blood sugar levels rise. The glucose is then stored in the cell as glycogen. If these limited stores in muscle and liver cells are full, the remaining sugar is converted into fatty acids by the liver and stored as body fat in the almost unlimited fat stores.

With this background information, the bridge can now be built Glycemic index be beaten: The more carbohydrates are eaten and the faster the simple sugars reach the bloodstream, the higher their glycemic index. The problem, however, is that the index does not take into account how high the carbohydrate content is in the respective food, which means that the glycemic load is significantly more important.

Glycemic load – what is it?

The Glycemic load (GL) denotes the carbohydrate effect based on the Glycemic index and the portion size. The value consists of the respective GI number and the density of carbohydrates contained in the respective food 1 . This all sounds very abstract and complex, which is why the following practical example proves to be helpful:
For example, cooked carrots and wheat bread both have a glycemic index of 70. This is already a high value and could give the impression that both foods significantly increase blood sugar levels. However, 100g of cooked carrots only contain around 7g of carbohydrates, while 100g of wheat bread contains 49g of carbohydrates. In the end, the bread has a glycemic load that is seven times higher and causes a much higher increase in blood sugar than 100g of carrots. This means that the glycemic load should be taken into account more than the glycemic index. The so-called Glyx diet, which is only based on the former, is often incorrect.
Here the example is illustrated again mathematically:


Glycemic index

KH per 100g

(net KH per 100gx glycemic index) : 100

Result = glycemic load

Wheat bread



(49 × 70) / 100

= 34.3

Carrot, cooked



(7 × 70) / 100

= 4.9

So you can see that the value for carrots decreases from 70 to 4.9 and for wheat from 70 to 34.3. A glycemic load of 0 to 10 is considered low, 11-20 is considered moderate, and anything from 21 is considered high. Accordingly, the carrot has a high glycemic index (above 70 is high, 56-70 is considered moderate and below 55 is low), but a very low glycemic load. Completely in contrast to wheat flour 2 .

100g of wheat flour causes a sharp increase in blood sugar, but 100g of cooked carrots does not.

Glycemic load and glycemic index do not take portion size into account

However, one indicator is also missing from both systems: Glycemic index and the Glycemic load : The amount of each food consumed and the sum of several of these foods. For example, the sweet potato has a GI value of 50, which means it is still in the green zone for the index, but has already reached the moderate level for the GL value of 12.1.

If you now take into account that you eat 150-200g of sweet potato in one meal to fill you up, you achieve a net GL value of 24.4. This is already part of the stage of a high blood sugar increase, which is why insulin secretion can be greatly stimulated with a mountain of sweet potatoes. The example is in no way intended to show that the sweet potato is a bad food, but rather to illustrate the complexity of the issue. With other foods it is exactly the opposite, a regular portion of blueberries of 60g, for example, has a net GL value of 0.9, which means that this portion does not lead to high blood sugar levels despite the minimal amount of sugar it contains.

Conclusion on the glycemic index/glycemic load

The awareness of the Glycemic load and the Glycemic index is good basic knowledge on the subject of blood sugar levels and their stabilization. However, they should be used as background knowledge and not as isolated values. The amount of food, but also the time at which you take it, your current physical condition, intestinal health and genetic factors play an additional role. A muscular athlete with a low body fat percentage can easily fill his glycogen stores with a mountain of sweet potatoes or oatmeal with maple syrup on a training day - someone who is overweight and does not exercise much should, if possible, consume meals with a low overall glycemic load. And foods that are low in all three values ​​mentioned can also cause problems in the body. A good example of this are synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame.
Ultimately, stable blood sugar is a desirable goal when it comes to health, a consistently good energy level, less body fat around the middle and also sporting goals and good sleep. A good, high protein one Breakfast contributes significantly to this goal. An example of a simple, delicious, protein-rich breakfast that has a low glycemic load would be a bowl made with rice protein powder mixed with unsweetened coconut yogurt and topped with nuts and fresh berries.

1 Strom, Daniela (2013): Glycemic index and glycemic load - a concept relevant to the nutritional practice of healthy people? - Scientific statement from the DGE. In: Nutritional Review. Bonn: DGE.
2 Specialist Society for Nutritional Therapy and Prevention (2021): Research table tool glycemic index and glycemic load of foods. [; April 25, 2021].

Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in Biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for the understanding of physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors like Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as the constant exchange within the team, she can provide her customers with optimal advice about training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with a variety of successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

Older post Newer post