The glycemic load diet is a style of eating that aims to control glucose levels in the body, in order to control food cravings. Carbohydrates are the easiest form of fuel for the body to digest, but simple carbohydrates tend to raise glucose levels quickly and then drop levels fast. Fast drops in glucose levels cause cravings. The glycemic load diet includes foods that help to slow down digestion and glucose drops in order to eliminate the intense hunger often associated with fast dropping glucose levels.
Glycemic load measures the effect of foods on blood glucose levels. High glycemic load numbers mean faster metabolism of energy, and more chance of cravings. Foods high in simple sugars, like baked goods and sweet fruits — such as strawberries and watermelon, have high glycemic load numbers.
Experts refer to glycemic load numbers as the glycemic index. The glycemic load diet typically suggests eating foods that have low glycemic index numbers. These foods digest slowly and tend to have very little impact on blood glucose levels. Slow-digesting foods also provide energy to the body for longer periods of time, as opposed to fast-digesting foods with high glycemic index numbers.
Low glycemic load diets generally include carefully measured food portions, restricted caloric intake, and whole grains. Lean proteins are also allowed on the glycemic load diet. Following suggested servings based on the food pyramid is allowed, but foods should fall within the low to moderate glycemic load index.
Foods with low glycemic load have an index number of 10 or below. Moderate foods range between 11 and 19. High glycemic load foods will measure 20 or above. The glycemic load diet does not restrict carbohydrates, so it cannot be called a low carbohydrate diet. Instead, whole grain and complex carbohydrates are exchanged for the simple carbohydrates typical to a Western diet.
Dieters are usually not given a specific total number to aim for while on the glycemic load diet. For instance, hitting a total glycemic load of 500 for the day is not a requirement or stipulation. Calorie restriction is the basis of weight loss. Adding in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every other day is also suggested to increase calorie burn and muscle mass.
The glycemic load diet was created by Dr. Robert Thompson. Dr. Thompson is a cardiologist who has also written books dedicated to controlling diabetes through diet, and a cookbook that works with the glycemic load diet. Weight loss on the plan averages one to two pounds (0.45 to 0.90 kg) per week.