Shulman Health and Wellness


Published on January 31, 2020


As holistic nutritionists, we often talk about the glycemic index and how it can affect weight loss. Whether you are looking to loose weight or just wanting to feel your very best, the glycemic index is a valuable tool to consider for your health and weight loss journey.

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a tool used to assess how much a certain food increases our blood sugar levels. The quicker our blood sugars are affected by eating a particular food, the more insulin is secreted in response. An over consumption of high GI foods can lead to weight gain. It can also wreak havoc on our health, including increasing our risk of type II diabetes. The glycemic index was created to assess carbohydrates. They are an essential part of our diets but it is important to remember that they are not all created equal. It is always recommended to focus on carbohydrates that are higher in fiber, protein and fat. This helps slow the entry into our blood, keeping our blood sugars stabilized and filling us up for longer periods of time. Consuming low GI foods is ideal for weight loss and helps to lower our risk of certain disease.

What is the glycemic load (GL)?

Although the glycemic index is an effective tool to use, it certainly has its limitations. Unfortunately it only takes into account one part of the equation. The glycemic load not only takes into account how quickly a certain food affects our blood, but it also considers how much sugar a particular food contains. The glycemic load categories are as follows:

  • Low (10 or less)
  • Medium (11 to 19)
  • High (20)

Although a food may rank low on the GI scale, you want to also make sure it ranks within a healthy range on the GL scale.

How are foods ranked on the GI scale?

Foods are assigned a number on the GI scale (from 0-100) according to the effect they have on blood sugars. The lower a food’s glycemic index, the slower your blood sugar rises after consuming that particular food.

  • Low GI foods: 1 to 55
  • Medium GI foods: 55 to 70
  • High GI foods: 70 and higher

From a health and weight loss perspective, it is ideal to minimize high glycemic index foods in your diet.

High GI foods include:

  • Corn
  • White bread and bagels
  • White rice and pasta
  • Refined and processed grains
  • Instant oatmeal
  • White potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Watermelon

Always focus on low GI food to help keep blood sugars stabilized and balanced and to support weight loss.

Low GI foods include:

  • Apples
  • Berries, including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Prunes
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • Green peas
  • Green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, bok choy, chard, etc.
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas and hummus
  • Lentils
  • Soy beans
  • Steel cut oats
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • High fiber cereals
  • Sprouted wheat
  • Bulgur

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