Our bodies have been designed to survive, adapt, and heal. Before we had grocery stores on every corner we had to acquire our food but hunting or through gathering. This meant that we had to have some way to store energy for later use.
We store some ‘energy’ in the form of glycogen (complex structure of glucose molecules) in muscles and in liver. However, the predominant storage of ‘energy’ in our bodies is adipose (fat) tissue and we are very adept at storing it.
Adipose (fat) tissue accumulates when we consume too many calories, especially in the form of carbohydrates. A little adipose is a good thing. However, we CAN have TOO MUCH of a good thing!
With that said, it truly does matter WHAT you eat as well as HOW MUCH.
For example, carbohydrates are the single most hormonally & endocrinologically active foods we consume. Carbohydrates cause insulin levels to increase. Insulin is responsible for storing energy. Once the muscle and liver are full of glycogen, and they can only hold so much, the remainder goes to fat. There are multiple implications to this.
Exercise is important for fat loss and can kick your improvement into ‘Warp Speed’ but remember one point:
YOU CANNOT OUT-EXERCISE POOR NUTRITION!
Let me tell you what I mean by this. Carbohydrates get broken down in the digestive tract into simple sugars. These sugars ultimately increase blood sugar in our bodies.
Blood sugar is maintained in a very tight range (under normal physiology). The normal range is 80-100.
The brain uses glucose almost exclusively for its energy. It consumes approximately 50% of the circulating blood sugar. Therefore, when blood glucose drops our brains do not function efficiently – this can cause shakes, confusion, seizures, and death.
Glucagon is the hormone responsible for keeping blood sugar up when it begins to drop.
Conversely, high blood sugar is extremely toxic. When blood sugar goes above 140 mg/dL we start forming what are called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). This is where the glucose attaches to substances where it causes a whole host of problems.
Therefore, we have to have a mechanism to keep this blood sugar down in a more normal range. This is the job of insulin. Insulin is the storage hormone of the body. It keeps blood sugar down but also moves glucose into cells where it can be utilized.
There are 4 tissues that primarily utilize glucose:
- Brain – it does not need insulin to get blood sugar in
- Liver –
- Muscle –
- Adipose (Fat) –
Glucagon and Insulin are antagonistic hormones. When one is active the other is dormant.
So, when we eat a high carbohydrate meal our blood sugar will go up. When blood sugar goes up insulin levels go up to maintain blood sugar in the ‘normal’ range. As previously stated, insulin serves to normalize blood sugar when it is elevated and store this glucose in liver, muscle, and fat.