Gluconeogenesis: The Body Makes It Own Carbs
As an ongoing student of the low-carb lifestyle, I have to admit I don't always understand every little detail about how and why this way of eating works so well to help people manage their obesity, diabetes, and other health-related issues. But that doesn't mean I'm just gonna throw my hands up in the air in disgust and give up trying to absorb all the information I can about livin' la vida low-carb. Instead, hopefully I can impart to you what I have learned in easy-to-understand language that will make it crystal clear why low-carb is the fantastically miraculous nutritional approach so many of us think it is. Today I want to introduce to you a vital concept in the wonderful world of low-carb that you may or may not have heard about before. I discovered it for the first time in January at the Nutritional & Metabolic Aspects of Carbohydrate Restriction conference in Brooklyn, New York. The more I find out about this process, the bigger my smile gets for choosing low-carb as my permanent lifestyle change. Understanding this revolutionary concept alone about low-carb will arm you with so much knowledge that you will simply confound the enemies of low-carb living so much they'll be speechless! :) What is it? In a word, it's GLUCONEOGENESIS! Glucosaywhatsaywhat?!?! Get used to saying it because it is a key concept in livin' la vida low-carb. Gluconeogenesis (Pronounced GLUE-CO-NAY-OH-GEN-EH-SIS), also known as GNG (that's easier to say anyway, isn't it?), is the body's way of creating glucose, or sugar carbs, out of the breakdown of proteins in the liver. Thus, in the T-shirt diagram at the top of this column, you see how this gluconeogenesis process works. Although opponents of low-carb programs believe you are depriving your body of important dietary elements when you do Continue reading >>
Carbohydrates And Diabetes
en espaolLos hidratos de carbono y la diabetes Carbohydrates, found in foods such as bread, fruit, and candy, make your blood sugar rise. So if you have diabetes, you might think you shouldn't eat carbohydrates (carbs) at all. But carbohydrates are one of the three main components of food (the others are proteins and fats ). All kids, including those with diabetes, can and should eat carbs as part of a healthy diet. Kids with diabetes will need to pay closer attention to what they eat, though. Why? Because the more carbs you eat, the more insulin your body will need. Why? Because your body turns carbs into the sugar glucose (say: GLOO-kose), which is used for energy by your cells. And glucose can't get into your cells without insulin (say: IN-suh-lin). Following a meal plan can help kids balance carbs with medications and exercise so that they maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Like exercising and taking medications, it's just another step many kids with diabetes take to stay healthy. It's a little easier for people to control their diabetes if they eat about the same amount of carbs at about the same times each day. That's where a meal plan comes in. Your parents and diabetes health care team can help you create a meal plan that maps out what you will eat. You might say, "I don't even know what a carbohydrate is!" Don't worry. The adults in your life can help you figure it out and can spell it out in your meal plan. But just to give you a taste of carbohydrate knowledge: Carbs are not found in just one kind of food. Carbs are found in many foods, such as soda, candy, breads, crackers, fruits, vegetables, and milk. Some carb-containing foods, like whole-grain bread, are healthier than others, such as candy. These healthy carbs should be included in your meal plan. L Continue reading >>
9 Myths About Low-carb Diets
There is a lot of misinformation about the low-carb diet out there. Some claim that it is the optimal human diet and that everyone should be eating low-carb. Other people believe it is a "fad" diet that is unsustainable and potentially harmful. This article lists 9 common myths about low-carb diets. The term "fad diet" has kind of lost its meaning. Before, it was used for crash weight loss diets that enjoyed short-term popularity. However, today it has basically just become a term of abuse that people use for diets they don't agree with. Even today, many people still call low-carb a "fad" diet. This makes absolutely no sense, because low-carb has been shown to be effective in over 20 scientific studies. It has also been popular for decades. In fact, the first Atkins book was published in 1972, 5 years before the first set of low-fat dietary guidelines in America. If we look even further back, the first low-carb book was published in 1863 and was wildly popular at the time. When something has been around for so long and is supported by science, dismissing it as a "fad" is just a dishonest attempt at evading the argument. The low-carb diet has been around for decades and is supported by over 20 high-quality studies in humans. Calling it a "fad diet" is wrong. It is often claimed that low-carb diets are unsustainable because they restrict common food groups. This is claimed to lead to feelings of deprivation, causing people to abandon the diet and gain the weight back. This makes sense, but the truth is that all diets restrict something. Some restrict food groups or macronutrients, others restrict calories. The great thing about low-carb is that it leads to a reduction in appetite, so that people can eat until fullness and still lose weight (1, 2). Compare that to a calori Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without Carbohydrates?
Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in association and consumer publications, along with daily newspapers such as The Daily Times (Salisbury, Md.) A slice of whole grain crisp bread topped with vegetables.Photo Credit: AllAGRI/iStock/Getty Images Whether you call it Atkins, Paleo, South Beach or simply a low-carb diet, some weight-loss methods tout the superiority of protein and fat over the third macronutrient, carbohydrates. You can lower your intake of carbs quite a bit -- with both positive and negative side effects -- but eliminating all carbohydrates is not a safe dietary solution. You can, however, live without certain forms of carbohydrates, such as sugar. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred form of energy for your muscles, nervous system and metabolism, though it will fall back on protein as an energy source in a pinch. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into smaller units of sugar and transports them via the bloodstream to tissues and organs, where they're put to use for energy. Glucose, one of the sugars that carbs break down into, is essential for your central nervous system. Although your body can use protein for energy, it increases stress on your kidneys, as the byproducts are excreted into the urine. Cutting back on carbs might have benefits when it comes to weight loss -- a study published in 2014 in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease determined that low-carb diets decrease body weight and lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease -- cutting them out completely i Continue reading >>
Can Your Body Produce Carbohydrates From Protein Intake?
Your body relies on three classes of nutrients to meet its energetic needs: carbohydrates, protein and fats. It ultimately breaks down all digestible carbs into glucose, one of the simplest carbohydrates and the body's primary fuel. Some tissues, such as the brain, red blood cells, kidneys, cornea, testes and muscles, need a steady supply of glucose to function optimally. When necessary, your body makes glucose from nutrients other than carbohydrates, namely, proteins and fats. The process involved is called gluconeogenesis. Proteins and carbohydrates yield 4 calories per gram. With a yield of 9 calories per gram, fats provide the most energy by weight, but they digest more slowly than proteins and carbs do. The body prefers carbohydrates, as they are the quickest source of energy. When carbohydrates become unavailable, your body turns first to protein as an alternate fuel source, and second to fats. Carbohydrate and Protein Usage When you eat too many carbs or too much protein, your body stores some of the excess as fat. Excess carbs also end up in your liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. Between meals or during an overnight fast, your body taps into glycogen stores to get the glucose it needs for energy. According to biochemist Pamela Champe, Ph.D., glycogen stores can fuel your body for 10 to 18 hours. After running out of glycogen, your body starts breaking down protein to make glucose. Dietary Protein’s Roles Protein plays essential roles in the growth and development of the human body, tissue repair, muscle-mass maintenance, immune function, and hormone and enzyme production. Energy production is not its primary function. However, as previously mentioned, your body can break down tissue protein to make the glucose it needs whenever carbs are unavailable. Continue reading >>
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a metabolic process of making glucose, a necessary body fuel, from non-carbohydrate sources such as protein (amino acids), lactate from the muscles and the glycerol component of fatty acids. Blood glucose levels must be maintained within a narrow range for good health. If blood sugar is too high, it results in tissue and organ damage. If it is too low, cellular respiration and energy production can suffer, especially if the body is "carbohydrate-adapted," meaning the body uses glucose as it's primary fuel. Therefore, the ability of the liver and kidneys to “make new sugar” and regulate blood sugar levels is critical. The main advantage of this process is that it helps the body maintain steady blood sugar levels when foods containing carbohydrates or stored sugars (glycogen reserves) are unavailable. Without gluconeogenesis, you wouldn't live very long, especially without food, as your body must have a constant and steady level of blood glucose to keep the brain and red blood cells going. Mold Test Kits Easy to Use, Fast Results Available Interpretive Lab Report moldtesting.com Glucose and Ignorance If you decide to stop eating, or you decide to follow a low carb ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake drops. To make up for the missing carbohydrate in your diet, the liver creates the blood glucose it needs by breaking down the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver from your last meal. This process is called glycogenolysis. After about 30 hours with no food, a great deal of this stored glycogen is broken down, and the body must then begin making glucose by breaking down stored fatty acids or amino acids from the protein in your muscles. Some dietitians and trainers insist that this process is the reason that carbohydrates are "essential foods" Continue reading >>
Ask The Dietitian: Can You Survive Without Carbs?
Share it: Are you carb-curious? The popularity of low-carb, ketogenic and other Atkins-style diets are fueling an intense fascination around this macronutrient. As a dietitian and self-professed science junkie, I feel the need to deepen our understanding of this topic so as to not glorify or demonize a nutrient (unless it’s well-deserved!). So, why are carbohydrates so important? Are they really essential in the diet? Read on to find out. 3 Reasons Why Carbs are Important Carbohydrates achieve staple status in our diet because they supply a magical thing called glucose, a sugar. (OK, it’s not magic, just science.) If you weren’t automatically transported back to biology, let me explain. 1. Carbohydrates are an efficient fuel source. Our body runs on calories, and it gets those calories by metabolizing carbohydrates, fat and protein from our food. Since our body smartly spares protein for rebuilding and repairing tissue, carbohydrates and fat are by far the fuel of choice. While every cell is capable of burning glucose for energy, the same is not true for fat. 2. Certain organs and tissues require glucose. Our brain and red blood cells rely on the plentiful glucose in carbohydrates. Through gradual adaptation, the brain can learn to use fat in the form of ketone bodies, but our blood cells will always rely on glucose. In fact, our body fights really hard to keep our blood glucose levels within a narrow window. Once you dip below the minimum threshold of 20mg glucose/dL of blood you risk slipping into coma or having a seizure. This biological fact is partly what drives the daily recommendations for carbohydrates by major health organizations (see below). General Carbohydrate Recommendations The National Academy of Medicine sets the recommended dietary allowance at 1 Continue reading >>
The Truth About Carbs
"Carbs" are a hotly-debated topic, especially in the weight loss world, due in no small part to the popularity of low-carb diets such as the Atkins, Dukan and South Beach. The "carbs are bad" mantra from Dr Atkins and co. has left many people confused about carbohydrates and their importance for our health, including maintaining a healthy weight. Dietitian Sian Porter says: "Carbohydrates are such a broad category and people need to know that not all carbs are the same and it is the type, quality and quantity of carbohydrate in our diet that is important. "While we should reduce the amount of sugar in our diet, particularly added sugars, we should base our meals on starchy carbs, particularly the less processed wholegrain varieties. "There is strong evidence that fibre, found in wholegrain versions of starchy carbs for example, is good for our health.” On this page you can find out all you need to know about carbohydrates, their health benefits, healthier sources of carbohydrates and how they can help you lose weight. What are carbs? Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients (nutrients that form a large part of our diet) found in food – the others being fat and protein. Hardly any foods contain only one nutrient and most are a combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in varying amounts. There are three different types of carbohydrates found in food: sugar, starch and fibre. Sugar is found naturally in some foods, including fruit, honey, fruit juices, milk (lactose) and vegetables. Other forms of sugar (for example table sugar) can be added to food and drink such as sweets, chocolates, biscuits and soft drinks during manufacture, or added when cooking or baking at home. Find out more about sugar. Starch, made up of many sugar units bonded together, is foun Continue reading >>
How The Body Uses Carbohydrates, Proteins, And Fats
How the Body Uses Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats The human body is remarkably adept at making do with whatever type of food is available. Our ability to survive on a variety of diets has been a vital adaptation for a species that evolved under conditions where food sources were scarce and unpredictable. Imagine if you had to depend on successfully hunting a woolly mammoth or stumbling upon a berry bush for sustenance! Today, calories are mostly cheap and plentifulperhaps too much so. Understanding what the basic macronutrients have to offer can help us make better choices when it comes to our own diets. From the moment a bite of food enters the mouth, each morsel of nutrition within starts to be broken down for use by the body. So begins the process of metabolism, the series of chemical reactions that transform food into components that can be used for the body's basic processes. Proteins, carbohydrates , and fats move along intersecting sets of metabolic pathways that are unique to each major nutrient. Fundamentallyif all three nutrients are abundant in the dietcarbohydrates and fats will be used primarily for energy while proteins provide the raw materials for making hormones, muscle, and other essential biological equipment. Proteins in food are broken down into pieces (called amino acids) that are then used to build new proteins with specific functions, such as catalyzing chemical reactions, facilitating communication between different cells, or transporting biological molecules from here to there. When there is a shortage of fats or carbohydrates, proteins can also yield energy. Fats typically provide more than half of the body's energy needs. Fat from food is broken down into fatty acids, which can travel in the blood and be captured by hungry cells. Fatty aci Continue reading >>
Can You Live Without Carbohydrates?
The body's energy relies on the right nutrition. What Happens if You Severely Limit Your Intake of Carbs? Every cell in the body requires a constant supply of energy. Carbohydrates are a critical source of fuel for the brain, heart, muscles and central nervous system. Some diets promote a very low carbohydrate intake for weight loss, but the heath implications are controversial. Diets lacking in carbohydrate will utilize protein and fats as a source of energy. This can lead to long-term complications and increased mortality from diseases of the heart, kidney, gastrointestinal tract and certain types of cancer. Carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source. Dietary carbohydrates are digested and broken down into glucose. Glucose is maintained in the bloodstream as an immediate source of fuel for the body. When energy needs are met, excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. When carbohydrate and energy intake are inadequate, the liver breaks down glycogen to release glucose. This restores the body's supply of glucose for the brain, organs and bloodstream. Carbohydrates are also rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. When glycogen stores are depleted and dietary intake of carbohydrate is inadequate, the body is forced to use dietary protein and fat as a source of calories. When protein is being utilized for energy, it is not serving it's primary function to build and repair tissue. Muscle wasting, poor immune function and altered biochemical reactions occur when carbohydrate is unavailable to spare protein. When the body burns fat instead of glucose for energy, fat is broken down into ketones bodies resulting in a dangerous metabolic condition called ketosis. Chronic ketosis disturbs the pH of the body and can lead to bon Continue reading >>
How You Can Have High Blood Sugar Without Carbs
How You Can Have High Blood Sugar Without Carbs Can you have high blood sugar without carbs? Well, its important to look at common beliefs about high blood sugar first. High blood sugar is bad. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Therefore carbohydrates are bad. The theory is simple, and yet incredibly flawed. The truth is, you can have chronically high blood sugar even while religiously avoiding every starch and sugar in sight. Low-carb forums are littered with posts asking a very relevant question: Why is my blood sugar so high when Im not eating any carbs? The answer is simple, yet often overlooked. The Hormone that Raises Blood Sugar: No Carbohydrates Required If the body were an engine, glucose would be its fuel. Most people think glucose only comes from carbohydrates (sugar and starch), but protein can also be turned into glucose when there arent enough carbs around to do the job. This is called gluconeogenesis, and its performed by one of the major stress hormones cortisol. When you have high cortisol levels (from diet, lifestyle, etc.), the cortisol rapidly breaks down protein into glucose, which can raise blood sugar levels considerably. For some folks, this results in chronically high blood sugareven if they are on a low-carb diet. The trouble is, cortisol isnt just breaking down the protein you eat. Its doing something far more destructive. The body is quite a smart machine, and it has no problem taking detours to get energy if necessary. If your body isnt getting the energy it needs from your diet, it has a back-up source: its own tissue. It sounds kind of cannibalistic, eating your own lean body tissue for energy. I mean, I seriously doubt any one of you would relish cutting off a chunk of your leg for dinner. I know I wouldnt. But every time your body uses c Continue reading >>
The Truth About Ketosis & Low-carb Diets, Backed By Science
A lot of people are confused by the term “ketosis.” You may read that it is a “dangerous state” for the body, and it does sound abnormal to be “in ketosis.” But ketosis merely means that our bodies are using fat for energy. Ketones (also called ketone bodies) are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the almonds you just ate or fat you were carrying around your middle. When our bodies are breaking down fat for energy, most of it gets converted to energy, but ketones are also produced as part of the process. When people eat less carbohydrates, their bodies turn to fat for energy, so it makes sense that more ketones are generated. Some of those ketones (acetoacetate and ß-hydroxybutyrate) are used for energy; the heart muscle and kidneys, for example, prefer ketones to glucose. Most cells, including the brain cells, are able to use ketones for at least part of their energy. Is ketosis a bad thing? There is an assumption that if a body is burning a lot of fat for energy, it must not be getting “enough” glucose. However, there is no indication, from studying people on reduced carbohydrate diets, that this is the case (though there is usually a short period of adjustment, less than a week, in most cases). It takes about 72 hours to burn up all of the reserve glycogen (sugar loads). Although it’s true that our bodies can’t break fat down directly into glucose (though, interestingly, they easily use glucose to make fat), our bodies can convert some of the protein we eat into glucose. Indeed, this works well for people who don’t tolerate a lot of sugar, because this conversion happens slowly so it doesn’t spike blood glucose. What is the danger of ketosis? It is important that if you are following a ketogenic nutritional pro Continue reading >>
Dear Mark: How Much Glucose Does Your Brain Really Need?
116 Comments We now know that the oft-repeated “your brain only runs on glucose!” is wrong. I’ve mentioned it before, and anyone who’s taken the time to get fat-adapted on a low-carb Primal eating plan intuitively knows that your brain doesn’t need piles of glucose to work, because, well, they’re using their brain to read this sentence. Obviously, you eventually adapt and find you have sufficient (if not much improved) cognition without all those carbs. That said, some glucose is required, and that’s where people get tripped up. “Glucose is required” sounds an awful lot like “your brain only uses glucose” which usually leads to “you need lots of carbs to provide that glucose.” And that’s the question today’s edition of “Dear Mark” finds itself attempting to answer: how much glucose is required? Let’s get to it. Hi Mark, I have a little problem. Even though I’m able to function at work, maintain conversations, and go about my daily life without having segments of my brain suddenly stop working while eating Primal, my friends are worried about my brain. All they know is that the brain needs glucose. What can I tell them? How much glucose does my brain actually require to keep working? Thanks, Frank I wouldn’t be too hard on your friends. They mean well and it’s a common misconception. Instead of chiding them, rubbing their faces in the knowledge that you can function quite adequately on a high-fat diet, educate them. How much glucose the brain requires depends on the context. There’s not one single answer. If you’re on a very high fat, very low carb diet – like a traditional Inuit diet – your brain will eventually be able to use fat-derived ketones for about 50-75% of its energy requirements. Most ketones are produced in t Continue reading >>
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Carbohydrates Do More Than Make Energy For Your Body
Carbohydrates Do More Than Make Energy for Your Body Carbohydrates Do More Than Make Energy for Your Body Carbohydrates Do More Than Make Energy for Your Body Making energy isnt the only thing your body does with the carbohydrate nutrients in your diet. Carbohydrates also protect your muscles. When you need energy, your body looks for glucose from carbohydrates first. If no glucose is available, because youre on a carbohydrate-restricted diet or have a medical condition that prevents you from using the carbohydrate foods you consume, your body begins to pull energy out of fatty tissue. Your bodys next move is to burn its own protein tissue (muscles). If this use of proteins for energy continues long enough, you run out of fuel and die. A diet that provides sufficient amounts of carbohydrates keeps your body from eating its own muscles. Thats why a carbohydrate-rich diet is sometimes described as protein sparing. Regulate the amount of sugar circulating in your blood so that all your cells get the energy they need. Provide nutrients for the friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract that help digest food. Assist in your bodys absorption of calcium. May help lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure (these effects are special benefits of dietary fiber). So carbs are good, right? So how does pasta ends up on your hips when too many carbs pass your lips? Your cells budget energy very carefully. They do not store more than they need right now. Any glucose the cell does not need for its daily work is converted to glycogen (animal starch) and tucked away as stored energy in your liver and muscles. Your body can pack about 400 grams (14 ounces) of glycogen into liver and muscle cells. A gram of carbohydrates including glucose has four calories. If you add up all the Continue reading >>
Low Carbohydrate Dieters: Beware Of High Protein Intake
Most of us have heard something about low carb dieting. Whether it is the Atkins Diet or the Paleo Diet, carbohydrate restriction is becoming more popular as more people experience dramatic weight loss. While restricting carbohydrate intake does offer several health benefits, there are also dangers involved with eating too much protein. Not only does excessive dietary protein burden the digestive system, it can also contribute to the production of sugar in the body and even inhibit the body’s ability to naturally detoxify! Eating a low carb diet doesn't mean that you have to overload your plate with protein at every meal! Moderating protein in your diet can help you to live longer, limit sugar, and even improve daily digestion. Weight loss is not the only benefit of carbohydrate restriction. When done correctly, a low carb diet can help to control blood sugar, and it can even reverse insulin resistance, helping to heal disorders that are related to a sugar-heavy diet, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Low carb diets can also help to cool down chronic inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and several autoimmune conditions. Part of the overall success of a low carb diet is that: Many of our processed foods are carbohydrate-rich: Processed foods, which are full of refined oils and sugar, are hazardous for anyone’s health. Carb-heavy foods are often full of common immune system triggers: Several food allergies and immune system disorders are actually rooted in the proteins found in grain-based carbohydrates. One example is wheat gluten. A diet that is full of carbohydrates also feeds infection in the body. This infection could be in the form of bacteria, yeasts, or parasites. 3 Reasons to Limit Your Protein Intake Reason #1 to Moderate Your Protei Continue reading >>