How Sugar Makes You Fat!
Before we learn about carbohydrates, blood sugar and weight loss, let's talk chemistry 101. It will be fun! In a nut shell, carbohydrates are basically non-protein foods. If your food didn’t moo, quack, swim, cluck, grow feathers, or grow hair it is a carbohydrate and it is made up of glucose (sugar). Glucose provides energy (our brain even needs it to function). Human beings require carbohydrates to live healthy and carbohydrates are the source of vital nutrients that our cells require.
So where do things go wrong? When our blood glucose raises above what is healthy, not only is your energy affected, you can (will…) gain weight. Additionally, mental functioning is compromised. This elevated glucose is often reflected as poor memory, fuzzy thinking, poor concentration, irritability and written off as “getting older” or hyperactivity. Sound like you or someone you know?
Insulin, Glycogen and Fat Cells
When you ingest carbohydrates (sugar) your blood glucose will rise. The key is to get blood glucose to raise just enough for optimal energy levels, and not overload the body with glucose. When your blood glucose exceeds a certain level, approximately 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), your body begins to transport this glucose into the cells.
So how does your body move this glucose (blood sugar) out of the blood stream and into the cells? Answer: your pancreas will secrete a hormone called insulin into your blood stream. Insulin, in turn, sends glucose into the cells where it is used as fuel. All sounds great at this point. More carbohydrates = more fuel = more energy right? Pass the bread please…
Hold on a New York minute!!! Your cells only need, and can only accept, so much fuel! In the case of a surplus of glucose, the result of a high carbohydrate meal, the cells reach their capacity and can no longer accept the glucose. When this happens the body must store this excess glucose somewhere. If all goes well, the excess is stored in muscle and liver cells as glycogen for future energy requirements.
The bad news, if you are low in potassium and/or the glucose raises too high (one bagel will do this…) most of the glucose is converted to body fat for future energy needs – not good if you are trying to lose weight! If that’s not enough, when elevated blood glucose happens repeatedly overtime the cells begin to accept less and less glucose. This is the body’s attempt to protect it’s cells from the harm that follows glucose overdose (think sugar high, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance).
The lowering of blood glucose in the blood stream is vital for life! Elevated glucose in the blood stream is inflammatory as it acts like sand paper on the delicate circulatory walls. The body, in it’s beautiful wisdom will then create cholesterol to lay a bandaid of sorts over this irritated tissue. However, this discussion of cholesterol I will save for another article.
Glucose – A Dieters Best Friend
When blood sugar levels fall slightly below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) the pancreas releases a fat burning hormone called glucagon, which has the opposite effect of insulin. Glucagon, in a nut shell, is responsible for the conversion of body fat into glucose for energy – aka weight loss! The best way to initiate this process, in addition to eating low glycemic foods, is exercise – specifically weight bearing exercise.
Weight Loss Fact: to lose just one pound of fat you must create a 3,500 calorie deficit!
That’s a lot of calories to burn!
Sounds good – right? Release glucose, lose fat. However, there is a catch. As I mentioned above, after repeated exposure to elevated glucose things start to go wrong. Your pancreas, in it’s zeal to release insulin and help lower bloody sugar, can release too much insulin and blood sugar can dip too low. After all, we were not created to consume all this sugar without the fiber and nutrients that accompany it in real food. The result can be low blood sugar - hypoglycemia. When blood sugar falls too far you can experience light headedness, dizziness upon standing, body shaking, fuzzy thinking, etc. – all symptoms of hypoglycemia. At this point any refined, fat storage carbohydrate will do just fine!!! Give me a cookie (or more…) and all will be well. However, left unchecked all those cookies will lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, Syndrome X, obesity and/or any one of a long list of “modern diseases” will follow.
So, what are we to do? First, remember that your body is always trying it’s best to heal itself. Even a surgeon knows this – as a matter of fact, he/she counts on it! You have an internal pharmacy right inside your body 24/7 and you can put it to work. You can turn your body into a fat burning, muscle making beautiful expression of health, vitality and vibrancy! All you need to do is stock your internal pharmacy with the right prescription.
Dr. Carolyn’s Healthy Blood Sugar Words of Wisdom
- Blood glucose has to be in the “sweet spot” for weight loss – not too high, not too low.
- Engage in regular exercise, especially weight bearing.
- Eat foods with a glycemic index under 50.
- Eat real, living foods high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and amino acids.
- Check with your natural health provider for natural remedies. A few of my favorites include:
- Gymnema from Medi Herb
- Cataplex GTF from Standard Process
- Adrenal Life Force from Physica
- Pancrea Life Force from Physica
Love yourself, nourish your body and FULLY LIVE!