What is Glycemic Index and How to Calculate GI Value of Food Item?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Damanjit Duggal, MD, MBBS January 31, 2022

Last updated on September 26th, 2022

Growing up, a person might be told to limit sweets. That meant not consuming that additional bowl of sugary breakfast cereal. In adult age, a person may be tempted to throw carefulness to the wind. And, consume whatever he or she wishes to. The maintenance of a healthy diet is more vital than ever. One way of healthy diet intake is considering where foods fall on the glycemic index. Read to know “What is Glycemic Index food charts for diabetics?”

What is a Glycemic Index?

GI means a scale to classify foods comprising carbs. It means their potential to elevate blood sugar. Also, how rapidly those foods elevate the blood glucose levels. GI depends upon understanding that not every carb is equal. Simple carbs break down faster than the more complex carbs. Simple carbs are present in soda and sweet desserts. Complex carbs are present in vegetables and whole-grain foods. Consequently, the blood sugar spikes and then falls quickly. Over time, these constant rushes play a part in individuals becoming insulin resistant.

How to Determine Glycemic Index?

To determine GI numbers, doctors perceive how healthy people’s sugar levels alter after consuming carb-containing foods. Evaluate the successive blood glucose levels and compare it to a baseline. This is how one can determine where a food falls on the GI scale. This scale ranks food items from zero to 100. In this, 100 represents pure glucose. While, zero is a food comprising no sugar at all.

Fundamentally, GI shows that not everything that comprises similar number of grams of carbs behave in similar way in body. A person evaluates how body reacts to a cup of orange juice versus how it responds to other food items. These items can be a banana, 25 grams of candy or 25 grams of whole-grain bread.

Doctors assess the GI numbers only for certain food items. Not every single food product, not every veggie or fruit or piece of bread is under study. Yet, a person can use existing data and make a good determination for foods not studied.

What is a Low Glycemic Index Diet?

A low GI diet depends upon foods that won’t result in glucose swings. Consuming foods with a lower GI mean they would cause a slower rise in blood sugar. This would help a person absorb food more slowly and stay full for longer. And, thus a person eats less. Foods with a high glycemic index, or simple sugars provide a quick burst of energy. And that too, with a rapid rise in blood sugar. But then a person will tend to feel pretty tired later and get hungry fast.

low glycemic index food chart

Various types of foods belong to these classes. For example, foods higher in fat and protein tend to be absorbed slower. And, thus they have a lower glycemic index. Yet, the GI isn’t essentially a tool that’s easy to use as a nutrition guide. It is the way that a person can use with calories. And foods with a low GI do not pack nutrients. Consuming a balance of foods from all 5 food groups is a better rule to practice. These 5 groups are fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, and dairy.

In fact, the ADA assess that the GI numbers are “not easily reachable for meal planning. It’s more about thinking what types of foods have a lower GI. Also, it is about ensuring that there’s a good portion of these in each meal rather than other foods with a high GI.

Also Read: Normal Blood Sugar Level Chart Age Wise

The Benefits of a Low Glycemic Index Diet

A low GI diet help to improve overall health of a person. And, assists to prevent certain illnesses. There is increasing evidence that low GI foods can lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If a person is already diabetic, it may lower the risk of long-term complications. Also, it is found that this diet is beneficial for cholesterol levels.

Diet which packs high glycemic index foods would increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. It might add to weight gain. Also, the complications that go along with that, including stress on the heart. High GI diet worsens off the cholesterol metabolism of an individual.

There are not many downsides to a low glycemic index diet except few. If a person is already on insulin and change the way a person eats without changing insulin dosages, this might increase the risk of low blood glucose. Moreover, if a person’s cholesterol increases after a low-carb diet (for instance, the keto diet), a low GI diet also may not be the best choice.

Also Read: Can Diabetics Eat Carrots?

Low Glycemic Index Foods

Low GI foods are the ones with a number that’s 50 or less. Few of them may include:

  • Fruits: Strawberries, apples, pears.
  • Vegetables: Peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants.
  • Nuts: Cashews, peanuts.
  • Dairy: Whole/full-fat milk, plain yogurt.
  • Sweets: Dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa.
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, beans (dried or boiled), legumes.

High Glycemic Index Foods

High GI food products have a number more than 70. These may include:

  • Potatoes: Mashed potatoes, French fries.
  • Fast food: Cheeseburgers, fried chicken, pizza.
  • Bakery or grains: Doughnuts, white bread, cereals (unless whole grain).
  • Processed foods: Corn chips, pretzels.
  • Sugar-containing beverages: Soda, sweet tea, sports drinks.

Sample Glycemic Index Numbers

Here is a sampling of the GI numbers for various foods:

  • Watermelon (raw): 72 or 80
  • Sweet potato (orange, peeled, cut and boiled for 8 minutes): 61
  • Honey (pure): 58
  • Popcorn: 55
  • Coconut Sugar: 54
  • Quinoa (cooked, refrigerated and reheated): 53
  • Banana (yellow and ripe): 51
  • Brown rice (steamed): 50
  • Potato (white, cooked): 41
  • Apple (raw, golden delicious): 39
  • Carrots (raw): 16

Also Read: Bigomet SR 500 Tablet For Diabetes

Why Glycemic Index of Foods Varies?

Determining the GI ratings for food items is an imperfect science. The GI numbers are diverse for each food. It depends upon its processing or preparation. Also, upon how each person responds. For example, instant oatmeal has a glycemic index of 79. This is a high range. But, steel-cut rolled oats have a GI of 55. And, this is a medium glycemic index.

Varied versions of the same food also vary based on the ingredients. Yogurt that’s marketed for kids tastes delightful. It comprises a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners. These are high fructose corn syrup. Also, plain Greek is the regular fat yogurt. They may have same amounts of carbs, yet the GI is very different. This is due to the number of proteins and fats and the quality, quantity of the sugar in them. How much a person eats a certain carb-heavy food might also have an impact. For example, a small sip or two of soda won’t create any impact on the body than a large portion of whole-grain rice. The latter is usually quite a healthier one. As with various diets, “moderation” is the basic rule. As it strikes a balance between consuming low and high GI foods.

Also Read: How to Lower Blood Sugar?

Example of a Low Glycemic Meal Plan Chart

These are some examples of meal alternatives for any person following a low GI meal plan:

Breakfast options

Few low GI breakfast options might include:

  • breakfast quesadillas using black beans, spinach, and mushrooms
  • scrambled eggs using smoked salmon
  • buckwheat pancakes with berries

Lunch options

Low GI lunch options can be:

  • cauliflower and celeriac soup
  • black bean soup
  • mango chicken and almond on rye bread

Dinner options

Low GI dinner options can include:

  • Tex-Mex tofu soft tacos
  • lamb shanks with barley, garden peas, and mint
  • Indian-style spiced veggie and cheese parcels

Snack options

Low GI snack options are:

  • roasted soy nuts
  • a slice of cinnamon, oat, and almond loaf
  • homemade full-of-fruit muffins

While planning meals, it may prove helpful to count carbs. By managing carbs using the GI, individuals can better regulate their sugar levels.

Drawbacks of a Low Glycemic Index Diet

A person might find a low GI diet complicated to some extent. An individual needs to know the GI of all the foods on their plate. This may be problematic when a meal consists of many ingredients. Following a low GI diet might limit what options any person has while eating out in restaurants. A person also requires to consider the amount of fiber, fats, and protein in a meal. This determines how much the meal as a whole may impact their blood glucose.

People need to consider low GL and GI in the context of complete healthful eating. Fiber and whole grains are vital constituents of a healthful diet. And, they may predict health outcomes better than GI. Thus, it may be more vital for people to be conscious of the GI of foods. Also, it helps maintain a balanced and healthful diet.

Thus, a person can keep his or her glucose levels under control. Add low GI foods into diet. Also, before consuming them, talk to your doctor. To know more about low GI foods good for diabetics, just contact Breathe Well-Being. It’s a natural diabetes reversal program. The program helps a diabetic to feel motivated again. It helps maintain healthy glucose levels. We work upon diet, fitness, or exercise, stress lowering approaches. So, grab the offers now. And, get benefits from our cost-effective package by visiting our website.

Also Read: Diabetes and Artificial Sweeteners


An individual must follow a low GI diet to manage their health problems or weight. To do so, they can learn the GI of foods and make a meal plan. An individual must also consider other aspects of a balanced and healthful diet. These may include fiber and whole grains, in that planning. Low GI diets can prevent and manage diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart problems. Planning a low GI diet is possibly complex. Yet, an individual may consider enlisting the advice of a registered dietitian.


Which is more vital glycemic index or glycemic load?

Glycemic load is more helpful than glycemic index. When it comes to opting for healthy, diabetes-friendly foods.

What are the parameters of GI?

The glycemic index evaluates how much a food spikes blood sugar than pure glucose. A food having GI of 28 boosts blood sugar only 28% as pure glucose. Also, a food with a glycemic index of 100 acts similar to pure glucose.

Is Indian food low glycemic?

All Indian Dals or Pulses have low glycemic index. Both are good for overall health. They also offer Vegetarians a good source of protein. Urad Dal is a great ingredient in Dosa, Idli, Sambar and the Basic Urad Dal. Keep consuming Dals for Indian Lunch and Dinner. Take them with a nice whole wheat roti.

What is the major drawback of using glycemic index?

A practical drawback is that it does not evaluate insulin production because of rises in blood glucose. Consequently, two foods might have the same GI, but produce diverse amounts of insulin. Similarly, two foods may have the same GL, but result in different insulin responses.


  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/glycemic-index/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/high-glycemic-index-foods#summary

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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