How Our Bodies Turn Food Into Energy
All parts of the body (muscles, brain, heart, and liver) need energy to work. This energy comes from the food we eat. Our bodies digest the food we eat by mixing it with fluids (acids and enzymes) in the stomach. When the stomach digests food, the carbohydrate (sugars and starches) in the food breaks down into another type of sugar, called glucose. The stomach and small intestines absorb the glucose and then release it into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, glucose can be used immediately for energy or stored in our bodies, to be used later. However, our bodies need insulin in order to use or store glucose for energy. Without insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels high. Insulin is a hormone made by beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells are very sensitive to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Normally beta cells check the blood's glucose level every few seconds and sense when they need to speed up or slow down the amount of insulin they're making and releasing. When someone eats something high in carbohydrates, like a piece of bread, the glucose level in the blood rises and the beta cells trigger the pancreas to release more insulin into the bloodstream. When insulin is released from the pancreas, it travels through the bloodstream to the body's cells and tells the cell doors to open up to let the glucose in. Once inside, the cells convert glucose into energy to use right then or store it to use later. As glucose moves from the bloodstream into the cells, blood sugar levels start to drop. The beta cells in the pancreas can tell this is happening, so they slow down the amount of insulin they're making. At the same time, the pancreas slows down the amount of insulin that it's releasing into the bloodstream. When this happens, Continue reading >>
Evolving Health: Why Can't We Convert Fat To Glucose?
As evident by many sugar-laden soda pop "potbellies" of North America, lipogenesis can obviously occur from drinking and eating too much sugar (1). Wouldnt it be just grand to reverse the process and be able to lose all that fat via gluconeogenesis? Unfortunately mammals do not have the ability to synthesize glucose from fats (1). The fact is that once glucose is converted to acetyl coA there is no method of getting back to glucose. The pyruvate dehydrogenase reaction that converts pyruvate to acetyl CoA is not reversible (1p252). Because lipid metabolism produces acetyl CoA via beta-oxidation, there can be no conversion to pyruvate or oxaloacetate that may have been used for gluconeogenesis (1p252). Further, the two carbons in the acetyl CoA molecule are lost upon entering the citric acid cycle (1p252). Thus, the acetyl CoA is used for energy (1p252). There are some fatty acids that have an odd number of carbon atoms that can be converted to glucose, but these are not common in the diet (1p253). Maybe they should be made more common. Do they taste good? 1. Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2009. Continue reading >>
How Are Carbohydrates Converted Into Fat Deposits?
How are carbohydrates converted into fat deposits? There are two ways that carbohydrates and body fat interact. One is directly by turning into body fat, and the other is via insulin. Turning into body fat is like adding fat into the fat cells, whereas carbohydrates spiking insulin does not add anything to fat cells per se, but hinders the release. The former is like a + equation, where the latter is a double negative which results in something that seems positive. There is a process called de novo lipogenesis (literally: Creation of fat from non-fat sources) that can occur in the body. This process turns glucose into lipids, which are then stored as body fat. This process is normally quite inefficient in the body  , which suggests that carbohydrates cannot be stored as fat to a high degree. The process can be upregulated (enhanced) if dietary fat comprised almost none of the diet (lesser than 10%, as a rough estimate), if carbohydrate intake is excessively high for a period of a few days, or if one follows an obesogenic diet (diet that is likely to make you fat) for a prolonged period of time.    Carbohydrates spike insulin , which is a hormone that mediates glucose metabolism. Insulin is not good or bad, insulin is insulin. It can be thought of as a lever that switches the body from fat burning mode into carbohydrate burning mode. This allows carbohydrates (and glycogen) to be burnt at a greater rate, but directly reduces the ability of fat to be lost. Overall metabolic rate (calories burnt over the course of a day) does not change significantly, just where the calories come from. When insulin is spiked in presence of ingested dietary fat, the dietary fat can go into body fat stores and not be released since glucose from glycogen is being used in place of Continue reading >>
Fat For Fuel: Why Dietary Fat, Not Glucose, Is The Preferred Body Fuel
Contrary to popular belief, glucose is NOT the preferred fuel of human metabolism; the fact is that burning dietary fat for fuel may actually be the key to optimal health Carbohydrate intake is the primary factor that determines your body's fat ratio, and processed grains and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates According to experts, carbs should make up only 20 percent of your diet, while 50-70 percent of your diet should be healthy fats. Fat is far more satiating than carbs, so if you have cut down on carbs and feel ravenous, this is a sign that you need more healthy fat to burn for fuel By Dr. Mercola While we may consider ourselves to be at the pinnacle of human development, our modern food manufacturing processes have utterly failed at improving health and increasing longevity. During the Paleolithic period, many thousands of years ago, our ancestors ate primarily vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat—and a wide variety of it. This diet was high in fats and protein, and low in grain- and sugar-derived carbohydrates. The average person's diet today, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, and the average person's health is a testament of what happens when you adhere to a faulty diet. Humans today suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases than ever before. And there can be little doubt that our food choices play a major role in this development. Quite simply, you were not designed to eat large amounts of refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cereal, bread, potatoes and pasteurized milk products. As Mark Sisson states in the featured article:1 "If you want to live a better life and eat the best foods nature provided for health and fitness, then it's time to ditch the old paradigms an Continue reading >>
Science And Nutrition :: You Are What You Ate
Over two thousand years ago, Hippocrates theorized that the body was composed of four fluids or humours including blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile) and black bile (melancholy). Avicenna later suggested in the ninth century that these humours were derived from the process of digestion and so classified them as well as humans and all foods as hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist and cold/dry. Similarly, in ancient China body fluids identified resembled those put forward by Hippocrates. Additionally, the Chinese classified human characteristics, as well as foods, into yin and yang. Indian traditional medicine (ayurveda) categorizes people into three doshas or humours with their corresponding characteristics: vata (active and enthusiastic although a worrier), pitta (sharp intellectual, with a tendency to become irritable under stress) and kapha (balanced and conservative). All of these systems make a reference to the importance of balancing the internal environment of the body and, while their outlook varied, they coincide in the fact that illness was regarded as an imbalance of these components. The human body is amazing in how it protects itself and preserves life. It is indeed true that a certain level of balance or equilibrium is required to sustain life. It is critical for conditions such as temperature, hydration and energy supply to be maintained at all times. This last concept, energy supply, is a direct result of our eating habits. Out of all of these amazing chemical reactions, lets look at one group more closely: glucose metabolism. Under normal circumstances, the human body uses carbohydrates as its number one source of energy. When carbohydrates are not available in sufficient quantities to supply the body with the required energy (in the form of glucose), alterna Continue reading >>
How Sugar, Not Fat, Raises Your Cholesterol
Excess carbohydrates and sugar lead to cholesterol and weight gain, explains Dr. Doni Wilson, which is why balancing blood sugar levels every day is so important. When you go to the doctor and get a cholesterol reading, you may be cautioned against eating high-fat foods. But very little fat from foods becomes cholesterol in your blood. What produces cholesterol is rather the excessive consumption of carbs at any one time. The cholesterol and triglycerides in your bloodstream come not from consuming excess fat, but rather, from consuming excess glucose. I’m not just talking about excess glucose over the course of a week or even a day. I’m talking about what happens when you consume excess glucose in one sitting. Let’s take a closer look at exactly happens when your body gets too many carbs at one particular meal. First, you digest the carb-containing food, breaking it down into the individual glucose molecules that are small enough to cross the cells of your intestinal walls and enter your bloodstream. Because you have eaten too many carbs, you have far too much glucose stuck in your blood. You don’t have enough insulin to move all that glucose into your cells. So what happens to that excess glucose? Some of it is stored in your liver as a substance known as glycogen, to be released when you don’t eat. Harking back to our hunter-gatherer days, our bodies created a backup system to ensure that even if we can’t get any food for a couple of days, we won’t starve to death. The liver can only hold so much glycogen, however. So what about the glucose that doesn’t fit? Your body has three choices: convert the glucose into body fat, which translates into weight gain, most likely around your middle; convert the glucose into lipids (fats), which remain in your bloo Continue reading >>
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Converting Carbohydrates To Triglycerides
Consumers are inundated with diet solutions on a daily basis. High protein, low fat, non-impact carbohydrates, and other marketing “adjectives” are abundant within food manufacturing advertising. Of all the food descriptors, the most common ones individuals look for are “fat free” or “low fat”. Food and snack companies have found the low fat food market to be financially lucrative. The tie between fat intake, weight gain, and health risks has been well documented. The dietary guidelines suggest to keep fat intake to no more than 30% of the total diet and to consume foods low in saturated and trans fatty acids. But, this does not mean that we can consume as much fat free food as we want: “Fat free does not mean calorie free.” In many cases the foods that are low in fat have a large amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate intake, like any nutrient, can lead to adverse affects when over consumed. Carbohydrates are a necessary macronutrient, vital for maintenance of the nervous system and energy for physical activity. However, if consumed in amounts greater than 55% to 65% of total caloric intake as recommended by the American Heart Association can cause an increase in health risks. According to the World Health Organization the Upper Limit for carbohydrates for average people is 60% of the total dietary intake. Carbohydrates are formed in plants where carbons are bonded with oxygen and hydrogen to form chains of varying complexity. The complexity of the chains ultimately determines the carbohydrate classification and how they will digest and be absorbed in the body. Mono-and disaccharides are classified as simple carbohydrates, whereas polysaccharides (starch and fiber) are classified as complex. All carbohydrates are broken down into monosaccharides before b Continue reading >>
How Does Fat Get Converted To Calories?
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Answer by Bart Loews , passionate exercise enthusiast, on Quora : How is fat being converted into calories at cellular level? First lets get some term clarification: A calorie is a measure of energy, specifically heat. Its a measurement of an indirect use of your biological fuels. Your body doesnt really convert things to calories, it converts them to ATP which is used as energy. Calories are, sadly, the best way we have to measure this process.Ill assume that the point of this question is: How does fat turn into energy? Fat is a term used interchangeably with lipids and with adipose tissue. Lipids are molecules that consist of a hydrophobic tail with a hydrophilic head. Because of this polarized set up, they are able to cluster together to form barriers between water and non water, like bubbles. Your cell membranes are composed of lipids. Adipose tissue is what makes you fat. Adipose tissue stores lipids in the form of triglycerides or 3 fatty acid chains with a glycerol backbone. These triglycerides are what is broken down to be used for energy. Adipose tissue is made up of collections of adipocytes or fat cells. Adipose tissue is used for insulation, cushioning, and energy storage. You get a particular number of fat cells (between 30 and 300 billion) during adolescence and childhood. You don't lose them naturally, but you can gain more if they grow more than 4 fold from their original size. They grow and shrink as they take on more energy. Fat cells have a few other roles in the endocrine system, they release the hormone, Leptin when they receive energy from insulin. Leptin signals to your body that you're full. The more fat cells you have, the more leptin is released. It's been found that obese people are lep Continue reading >>
We Really Can Make Glucose From Fatty Acids After All! O Textbook, How Thy Biochemistry Hast Deceived Me!
Biochemistry textbooks generally tell us that we can’t turn fatty acids into glucose. For example, on page 634 of the 2006 and 2008 editions of Biochemistry by Berg, Tymoczko, and Stryer, we find the following: Animals Cannot Convert Fatty Acids to Glucose It is important to note that animals are unable to effect the net synthesis of glucose from fatty acids. Specficially, acetyl CoA cannot be converted into pyruvate or oxaloacetate in animals. In fact this is so important that it should be written in italics and have its own bold heading! But it’s not quite right. Making glucose from fatty acids is low-paying work. It’s not the type of alchemy that would allow us to build imperial palaces out of sugar cubes or offer hourly sweet sacrifices upon the altar of the glorious god of glucose (God forbid!). But it can be done, and it’ll help pay the bills when times are tight. All Aboard the Acetyl CoA! When we’re running primarily on fatty acids, our livers break the bulk of these fatty acids down into two-carbon units called acetate. When acetate hangs out all by its lonesome like it does in a bottle of vinegar, it’s called acetic acid and it gives vinegar its characteristic smell. Our livers aren’t bottles of vinegar, however, and they do things a bit differently. They have a little shuttle called coenzyme A, or “CoA” for short, that carries acetate wherever it needs to go. When the acetate passenger is loaded onto the CoA shuttle, we refer to the whole shebang as acetyl CoA. As acetyl CoA moves its caboose along the biochemical railway, it eventually reaches a crossroads where it has to decide whether to enter the Land of Ketogenesis or traverse the TCA cycle. The Land of Ketogenesis is a quite magical place to which we’ll return in a few moments, but n Continue reading >>
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How Fat Cells Work
In the last section, we learned how fat in the body is broken down and rebuilt into chylomicrons, which enter the bloodstream by way of the lymphatic system. Chylomicrons do not last long in the bloodstream -- only about eight minutes -- because enzymes called lipoprotein lipases break the fats into fatty acids. Lipoprotein lipases are found in the walls of blood vessels in fat tissue, muscle tissue and heart muscle. Insulin When you eat a candy bar or a meal, the presence of glucose, amino acids or fatty acids in the intestine stimulates the pancreas to secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts on many cells in your body, especially those in the liver, muscle and fat tissue. Insulin tells the cells to do the following: The activity of lipoprotein lipases depends upon the levels of insulin in the body. If insulin is high, then the lipases are highly active; if insulin is low, the lipases are inactive. The fatty acids are then absorbed from the blood into fat cells, muscle cells and liver cells. In these cells, under stimulation by insulin, fatty acids are made into fat molecules and stored as fat droplets. It is also possible for fat cells to take up glucose and amino acids, which have been absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal, and convert those into fat molecules. The conversion of carbohydrates or protein into fat is 10 times less efficient than simply storing fat in a fat cell, but the body can do it. If you have 100 extra calories in fat (about 11 grams) floating in your bloodstream, fat cells can store it using only 2.5 calories of energy. On the other hand, if you have 100 extra calories in glucose (about 25 grams) floating in your bloodstream, it takes 23 calories of energy to convert the glucose into fat and then store it. Given a choice, a fat cell w Continue reading >>
Can Fats Be Turned Into Glycogen For Muscle?
The amount of fat in the average diet and the amount of stored fat in the average body make the notion of converting that fat into usable energy appealing. Glycogen, a form of energy stored in muscles for quick use, is what the body draws on first to perform movements, and higher glycogen levels result in higher usable energy. It is not possible for fats to be converted directly into glycogen because they are not made up glucose, but it is possible for fats to be indirectly broken down into glucose, which can be used to create glycogen. Relationship Between Fats and Glycogen Fats are a nutrient found in food and a compound used for long-term energy storage in the body, while glycogen is a chain of glucose molecules created by the body from glucose for short-term energy storage and utilization. Dietary fats are used for a number of functions in the body, including maintaining cell membranes, but they are not used primarily as a source of fast energy. Instead, for energy the body relies mostly on carbohydrates, which are converted into glucose that is then used to form glycogen. Turning Fats Into Glucose Excess glucose in the body is converted into stored fat under certain conditions, so it seems logical that glucose could be derived from fats. This process is called gluconeogenesis, and there are multiple pathways the body can use to achieve this conversion. Gluconeogenesis generally occurs only when the body cannot produce sufficient glucose from carbohydrates, such as during starvation or on a low-carbohydrate diet. This is less efficient than producing glucose through the metabolizing of carbohydrates, but it is possible under the right conditions. Turning Glucose Into Glycogen Once glucose has been obtained from fats, your body easily converts it into glycogen. In gl Continue reading >>
Conversion Of Carbohydrate To Fat In Adipose Tissue: An Energy-yielding And,therefore, Self-limiting Process.
Conversion of carbohydrate to fat in adipose tissue: an energy-yielding and,therefore, self-limiting process. A theoretical analysis of the energy metabolism associated with the conversion ofglucose to fat is presented. In tissues where the pentose cycle furnishes some ofthe NADPH required for fatty acid synthesis, this conversion is an ATP-yieldingprocess. In rat adipose tissue the maximal rate of glucose conversion to fat can be quantatively predicted on the basis of the tissue's ability to use the ATPwhich is generated in excess during this conversion. The energy-generating natureof this process provides the means for a type of regulation which depends onmetabolic state and which, during fasting, contributes to the sparing ofcarbohydrate. Impairment of lipogenesis in the fasting state is attributed to adecrease in the activity of the malate cycle and to the presence of free fattyacids. However, rather than by inhibiting specific enzymes, it is by virtue oftheir quality as substrates for energy production that free fatty acids and theirCoA derivatives appear to inhibit de novo lipogenesis. The regulatory phenomenadiscussed here may explain the failure of the attempts made to identify therate-limiting step for de novo lipogenesis in adipose tissue. 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 >>
Not to be confused with Glycogenesis or Glyceroneogenesis. Simplified Gluconeogenesis Pathway Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from certain non-carbohydrate carbon substrates. From breakdown of proteins, these substrates include glucogenic amino acids (although not ketogenic amino acids); from breakdown of lipids (such as triglycerides), they include glycerol (although not fatty acids); and from other steps in metabolism they include pyruvate and lactate. Gluconeogenesis is one of several main mechanisms used by humans and many other animals to maintain blood glucose levels, avoiding low levels (hypoglycemia). Other means include the degradation of glycogen (glycogenolysis) and fatty acid catabolism. Gluconeogenesis is a ubiquitous process, present in plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. In vertebrates, gluconeogenesis takes place mainly in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the cortex of the kidneys. In ruminants, this tends to be a continuous process. In many other animals, the process occurs during periods of fasting, starvation, low-carbohydrate diets, or intense exercise. The process is highly endergonic until it is coupled to the hydrolysis of ATP or GTP, effectively making the process exergonic. For example, the pathway leading from pyruvate to glucose-6-phosphate requires 4 molecules of ATP and 2 molecules of GTP to proceed spontaneously. Gluconeogenesis is often associated with ketosis. Gluconeogenesis is also a target of therapy for type 2 diabetes, such as the antidiabetic drug, metformin, which inhibits glucose formation and stimulates glucose uptake by cells. In ruminants, because dietary carbohydrates tend to be metabolized by rumen organisms, gluconeogenesis occurs Continue reading >>
How Does Fat Get Converted Into Energy - _
This is perhaps a little on the 'nerdy' side of questions, but is something I don't quite understand. It's not really necessary to fully understand it, to follow a 'whole foods' diet, or an 'ssos' lifestyle, but still, I would like to get my head around it. So in that regard... I understand that carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is then used as energy in the body, and whatever energy the body does not use, it then moves into the adipose tissue, with the help of our friendly hormone called insulin. I understand that protein gets converted into amino acids, that the body then uses to restore, rebuild, and construct muscle tissue, along with other healthy tissues throughout the body. Whatever protein is not used for amino acids, is then moved into the liver, where it is converted into glucose, and at that point, the body can then use this glucose for energy. Just like our buddy, carbohydrate up above, whatever glucose (that originated from protein) that is not used for energy, can then be shuffled on over to the adipose (fat) tissue, with the help of insulin, where it is stored as body fat. Now, with Fat, this is where things get a little confusing, because my understanding, is that fat molecules can not be converted into glucose. In fact, step 1 on this journey, is that fat is utilized by the body, for fatty acids, which are required and needed for proper metabolism and biology. Whatever fat is not used for fatty acids, is then converted to triglycerides (do I got that right?), and moves on over to our adipose tissue, where it is stored as body fat. So, with that in mind, how does the body convert fat into energy, if it does not convert fat into glucose? Let me give you an example; Let's say we have a person who chooses to eat a 100% all fat diet, no protei Continue reading >>