What is the Appropriate Glycemic Load of Accessory Meals?

In order to determine which food portions have a glycemic load equal to 10 or less, one can consult GlycemicIndex.com for a very large number of foods. An alternative source listing 100 foods can be found at Harvard Health Publications.

To insure that your accessory meals provoke relatively little insulin release, we suggest that the total glycemic load of each accessory meal should be less than 10. The glycemic load of a serving of food is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of that food by the number of grams of carbohydrate in that serving; the Table below provides glycemic loads of typical serving sizes of a number of common foods.

By inspecting the Table, you can see that you would be allowed to eat a single apple, orange, peach, or pear with an accessory meal — but not dates, raisins, or a ripe banana. Modest servings of various types of beans would also be permitted, or a small servings of All-Bran or tomato juice. You will note that most other carb-rich foods are not appropriate.

Although most vegetables contain some carbohydrate, this carbohydrate content is so dilute (owing to high water content) that typical servings of vegetables have a very low glycemic load and hence can appropriately be included in accessory meals. However, this does not apply to tubers (sometimes categorized as vegetables) such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, or parsnips, which are high in starch.

Your accessory meals should also avoid dairy products containing sugars — e.g. milk, yogurt, or ice cream; although these have a low glycemic load, this reflects the fact that they provoke a very brisk secretion of insulin that keeps their glycemic index low. Provoking high insulin secretion is precisely what you don’t want to do with accessory meals!

Foods which contain essentially no carbohydrate — flesh foods, eggs, cheese, soy products, nuts, olives, avocadoes, oils, butters, nut butters, margarines, and vinegar — are of course permitted with accessory meals. They aren’t mentioned in the glycemic load table because their glycemic loads essentially are zero.

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