Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Food List

23 glycemic index fruitsWhen trying to lose weight the two main methods are with a balanced calorie restricted diet or with a low carbohydrate diet that eliminates sugars and starches. Research has shown quicker results and better compliance with the low carb diet.

Since most of my current clients are trying to lose weight, I get a lot of questions about which foods are OK to eat and which ones they should be avoiding.

Sugars, grains and processed and/or refined foods should be eliminated from the diet of anyone who is looking to lose weight. These foods will raise the blood sugar (glucose) levels and lead the body to produce more insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to control the metabolism of fat and sugars. One of the things that insulin does to try and lower blood sugar is to turn the glucose into fat and store it in the body.

Since sugars and grains are out of a weight loss nutrition plan, most of the carbohydrates are going to come from fruits and vegetables. The best fruits in terms of sugar content are berries. All berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and any other kind of berry are good. They are all relatively low in sugar. The best types of vegetables are your green leafy vegetables and your cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

After that is where a lot of the questions begin. “What other types of fruits are OK” is probably the most asked question I get. The answer to that lies in the glycemic index and glycemic load of the food.

The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a certain type of food raises the blood glucose levels. A food with a low GI will raise the blood sugar only slightly, but a high GI food will spike the blood sugar dramatically.

The glycemic load (GL) is a related measure that seems to be a lttle more relevant. The GL takes into account the GI of a food as well as the carbohydrate content of the food.

There are some foods that have a high GI but a low GL. Watermelon is an example of a food that has a high GI number but because there is a lot of water in a serving of watermelon there are not very many carbohydrates. Therefore it’s glycemic load is low.

Factors that Can Affect the GI and GL

The GI and GL numbers are based on the data recorded in various studies but these numbers can change based on a number of different factors.

When these foods are combined with other foods such as fats and proteins, the GI and GL can decrease since the body may metabolize the food slower. This is true especially with fatty foods. For example ice cream has a low GL number because of the fat content. Even with it’s low GI and GL numbers ice cream is still something that should be avoided because of the sugar content.

A fruit that is riper will usually contain more sugar will increase the GI and GL.

A food that is cooked longer has more of their cell bonds and structures broken down so they will digest quicker which would give them a higher GI and GL.

The GI and GL number can vary from person to person and can change in the same person depending on their body’s metabolism, blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and many other factors.

High and Low Glycemic Index and Load Numbers

Glycemic Index (GI)less than 5556-6970 and above
Glycemic Load (GL)less than 1011-2020 and above

Unless you are bulking up or doing some kind of advanced pre-contest cutting diet, it is usually best to avoid foods with a high glycemic load and to limit those with a medium glycemic load. Choosing more foods with a low glycemic load will help to avoid big surges in blood sugar levels and the body releasing a lot of insulin.


The Food list

While this is by no means a complete list of every food, the items I listed are a lot of popular foods that I get questions about. Some foods such as strawberries are low in carbs and therefore were not included in the studies so they are missing from the list. I have seen estimates where their glycemic load is between 2 and 3.

I divided the foods into three groups. The fruits (yes, pumpkins are technically fruits), vegetables, and legumes. I did not include and sugary foods or grains since they should be totally avoided when trying to decrease fat.

I have also color coded the foods into sections. The foods with a green font are foods that I recommend. The black font foods are still technically a low glycemic load but the portion sizes need to be monitored a little more closely. These are still OK but you should probably eat them a little more sparingly. The red font are foods that I would totally avoid when trying to lose weight.

These numbers are based on the research compilation from the University of Sydney and their complete database can be found on their website at

23 strawberries


FoodGIGLServing Size (g)Carbs per Serving (g)
Apple, raw40612016
Apricot, raw5751209
Cherries, raw22312012
Grapefruit, raw25312011
Orange, raw485120v11
Peach, raw28412013
Pear, raw42512011
Pineapple, raw66612010
Plum, raw53612011
Watermelon, raw8051206
Mango, raw51812015
Papaya, raw60912015
Banana, raw621612025
Dates, raw47146030
Fig, dried61166026
Grapes, raw591112018
Pumpkin, boiled66128018

23 potato

 Vegetables/ Starches

FoodGIGLServing Size (g)Carbs per Serving (g)
Carrot, peeled, boiled332805
Carrot, raw161808
Taro, peeled, boiled5441508
Potato, baked with skin691915027
Potato, baked without skin982615027
Potato, mashed831715020
Sweet Potato, baked944215045
Sweet Potato, boiled441115025

23 legumes

 Legumes/ Beans

FoodGIGLServing Size (g)Carbs per Serving (g)
Pinto beans, boiled in salted water14415025
Black Beans30715023
Chickpeas, canned, drained38915023
Kidney Beans29715025
Chickpeas, boiled361115030

As you can see in the fruit category apricots, pineapples and watermelons would not be considered low GI foods. They do not have a lot of carbs in a serving so their effects on blood sugar levels are not as great so their GL numbers are low.

In contrast, dates have a low GI number but because they have a lot of carbs, their GL number is in the medium range so they should be avoided.

23 bananasBananas are another popular fruit that many like to eat. When I am bulking I eat bananas all the time, but for those who are looking to lose weight, they are another fruit that should be avoided because it has a does not have a low GI or GL number.

A big surprise that I found was that baked sweet potatoes had a much higher GL than regular potatoes. This is an example where I think that cooking times made a difference because boiled sweet potatoes were a lot less than normal potatoes.

Hopefully this article and list of foods can help you chose which foods are OK and which should be limited or avoided when trying to lose weight. Remember that even though a food has a low GL, it should still be eaten in moderation since it can still have a negative effect on blood sugar and insulin if it is eaten in large quantities.

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