What is Glycemic Load?

definition of terms


Glycemic load accounts for how much a food spikes your blood sugar based on serving size and glycemic index. It indicates the overall glucose impact of a food.


  • Glycemic load is calculated by multiplying a food’s glycemic index (GI) by the grams of carbs per serving divided by 100.
  • To determine a meal’s glycemic load, add the GL values of each food item eaten. Try to keep total meals under 100.
  • GL provides a more practical indicator than GI alone for controlling blood sugar response based on portions consumed.
  • Choose foods with a low GL, like non-starchy veggies, berries, and lentils. Limit high GL foods like juices.


  • Watermelon GI 72 x 5 carb grams per serving = GL of 36 (low GL)
  • Soda GI 63 x 26 carb grams per serving = GL of 164 (high GL)

Related Terms

  • Glycemic index, insulin response, carb portions

Common Questions

  • What are ideal GL values? Focus on single servings with a GL of 11 or less.
  • Is GL better than counting carbs? It provides more context on impact based on GI and serving size.

Do Not Confuse With

  • GI – Does not account for serving size, only the food ranking.
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