How To Control Your Blood Sugar (The Importance of Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load)

Diabetics are often warned to LIMIT their carbohydrate intake because it takes such a long time for most carbohydrates to get absorbed and utilized by the body – the result, toxic amounts of glucose FLOOD the blood stream.

However, this advice is easier said than done and it is difficult, if not impossible, for many diabetics to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet.

This is one of the reasons many diabetics are non-compliant in their treatment.

Because diabetes does not often cause serious complications at onset, many patients refuse to take their medicine and worse, continue eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, specifically, sugar and starch.


A diverse group of foods have different ways of being broken down by our body’s system. People who suffer from DIABETES or INSULIN RESISTANCE in particular have difficult time processing foods high in carbohydrates.

Diabetics either cannot produce sufficient quantities of INSULIN (the key regulator that helps absorb & process blood sugar) or their body has already developed resistance to it.

In effect, these people are likely to have an EXCESS OF BLOOD GLUCOSE every time they consume foods rich in carbohydrates.

Once digestion commences, sugars and starches are absorbed into the blood stream, causing an excess in blood glucose if without proper control from Insulin.


The Importance of Glycemic Index (GL) & Glycemic Load (GL)

The GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) is a concept developed in the University of Toronto in 1981. It is a value assigned to foods based on how SLOWLY or how QUICKLY those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels.

It RANKS a carbohydrate-containing food depending on how much it raises blood glucose level compared to PURE GLUCOSE, which is assigned a GI value of 100.

Source: Glycemic Index

Glycemic Index ranges from one to one hundred. (An example of GI list can be found here).

  • Foods with LOW GI tend to release glucose slowly and steadily and have rating of less than 55.
  • Foods that fall between 56 to 69 range are considered MEDIUM GI.
  • Foods with HIGH GI (70 and above) release glucose rapidly.

Knowing the GI is imperative for anyone who needs to monitor their glucose level.

With diabetes reaching SIGNIFICANT LEVELS in the Philippines, it is important for anyone with diabetes to familiarize themselves with the GI (as well as with the GL) so they can be empowered and learn which foods should be avoided.

The KEY to understanding CONTROL OF BLOOD SUGAR is to know both how QUICKLY glucose from the food enters the bloodstream and how much (LOAD) glucose it will deliver.


The GL gives a more accurate picture of a food’s real-life impact on blood sugar.

It estimates HOW MUCH the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it.

Formula for Glycemic Load:

= (Grams of carbohydrate per serving x Glycemic Index)/100

A GL of 10 or below is considered LOW.

A GL of 11-19 is considered MEDIUM.

A GL of 20 or above is considered HIGH.

NOTE: You can obtain the Glycemic Load of several foods from Nutrition Data or both the GI & GL from the GI Database.

Let’s have some real examples.

Example 1: 1 Cup of White Rice

GL = 24 or even 30 (VERY HIGH)

Source: Nutrition Data

Source: GI Database

Example 2: Which do you think is better?  

1 Slice of Wheat bread (30g) or 2 teaspoons of table sugar (10g)?

This is exciting!

See for yourself below...

Source: GI Database

It looks like that your blood sugar will rise quicker and the load is higher when you consume 1 slice of wheat bread THAN when you take 2 teaspoons of table sugar!


How about if you eat 4 slices of the so called "healthy" wheat bread in one sitting for breakfast?

Based on the information above, 1 slice serving (30g) contains 13 grams of carbohydrate. So if you consume 4 slices…

4 slices x 13 = 52 grams of carbohydrates

Using the Glycemic Load formula above…

= (Grams of carbohydrate per serving x Glycemic Index)/100

= (52 grams carbohydrate x 69)/100

= GL ~36 (VERY HIGH)

It will most probably sky rocket your blood sugar levels an hour and onwards after consumption!

Realizing how important these information are if you are serious in taking control of your blood sugar is essential.

Now, it doesn’t mean that I tell you to eat more sugar. I just wanted to emphasize that knowing these simple facts can save you a lot of trouble when you are dealing with high blood sugar problems.

Let’s have one final example...

What if you have decided to just eat 2 boiled eggs (100 grams) for breakfast?

Glycemic Load = 1

Source: Nutrition Data

Putting all of these in one statement:


The power to take control is now in your hands.

Knowledge of the GI & GL tools is imperative for anyone who has diabetes or who has been diagnosed as borderline diabetes.

To be able to understand which foods have the most impact on blood glucose levels is crucial for anyone fighting this potentially life-threatening condition.

If you or a loved one suffers from diabetes, become familiar with the GI & GL so that you learn about the different categories of carbohydrates and which groups should be avoided.

Many substitutes for carbohydrates that rate LOW in both GI & GL are available at most grocery stores. Examples are quality proteins and vegetables to name a few.

While diabetes or insulin resistance are perceived difficult to cure, there are many different ways that people with this disease can live long, productive lives.

Start with knowing the right information.

Knowledge is power.

About the Author Alex Saroca MD

Alex Saroca is the founder of Tabachoy Academy. He is a general physician by profession, an author, a blogger, and an entrepreneur. He is on a mission to educate and make Filipinos realize - especially those with overweight, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes - that lifestyle modification is still more powerful than any drug in preventing heart disease, treating heart disease, and improving one's physical state and longevity.

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