Does Carbohydrate Become Body Fat?
Dear Reader, Ah, poor carbohydrates, maligned by diets such as Atkins’ and the ketogenic diet. However, carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy — in fact your muscles and brain cells prefer carbs more than other sources of energy (triglycerides and fat, for example). To answer your question: research completed over the last several decades suggests that if you are eating a diet that is appropriate for your levels of daily activity, little to no carbohydrate is converted to fat in your body. For most people (unless you have a metabolic disorder) when you eat carbs they are digested, broken down to glucose, and then transported to all the cells in your body. They are then metabolized and used to support cellular processes. If you’re active and eating appropriately for your activity level, most of the carbs you consume are more or less burned immediately. There are two caveats here: first, if you’re eating a lot more calories per day than you are burning, then yes, your liver will convert excess calories from carbohydrate into fats; second, not all carbs are created equal. If you consume too many calories from simple sugars like sucrose and fructose (think sugary sodas sweetened by sugar and high fructose corn syrup) then your body will more readily take some of those sugars and turn them into triglycerides (fat) in your liver. What happens to excess calories that come from carbs? The answer depends on several things: what kind of carbs you consumed, your genetics, as well as how many extra calories we’re talking about. For those who eat a well-balanced diet and have no metabolic disorders, excess dietary carbohydrates are converted by the liver into complex chains of glucose called glycogen. Glycogen is stored in liver and muscle cells and is a sec 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 >>
Eleven Myths And Facts About How The Body Burns Fat
The reality is that working out in the fat burning zone doesn’t measure up as the ideal exercise mode for losing body fat. Most important for fat loss is that the energy (calories) that is entering the body is less than the energy leaving the body. There are lots of ways of making this happen. This article will give you 11 fat loss facts, covering everything from how the body burns energy to when and how to focus on enhanced fat burning so as to optimize body composition. #1. Knowing where and how energy is stored in the body will improve fat loss results. Your body has the following energy sources available to it, which it burns at different rates depending on the intensity of physical activity: • Body fat provides roughly 30,000-100,000 calories in normal-weight people, depending on how much body fat you actually have. In obese people, the number is much higher. • Muscle glycogen provides 1,400-2,000 calories or 350-500 grams of glycogen, which is enough for 90 minutes of endurance exercise. It is stored in muscle cells and used by those cells for energy. • Liver glycogen provides about 400 calories or 100 grams of glycogen. It can be turned into glucose and used by the rest of the body, such as the brain and blood cells. • There’s also muscle and tissue, which is made of amino acids and can be broken down to produce glucose. This is the not ideal because it leads to loss of lean mass. #2. During exercise, the intensity of the exercise dictates the proportion of fat or carbohydrates being burned. Fat is your body’s primary fuel when you haven’t just eaten and aren’t exercising (a state we call “at rest”). At rest, when you’re sitting at your desk or even going for a walk, your body is burning mostly fat, but depending on the need for energy (su Continue reading >>
How Is Excess Glucose Stored?
The human body has an efficient and complex system of storing and preserving energy. Glucose is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy. Glucose is the product of breaking down carbohydrates into their simplest form. Carbohydrates should make up approximately 45 to 65 percent of your daily caloric intake, according to MayoClinic.com. Video of the Day Glucose is a simple sugar found in carbohydrates. When more complex carbohydrates such as polysaccharides and disaccharides are broken down in the stomach, they break down into the monosaccharide glucose. Carbohydrates serve as the primary energy source for working muscles, help brain and nervous system functioning and help the body use fat more efficiently. Function of Glucose Once carbohydrates are absorbed from food, they are carried to the liver for processing. In the liver, fructose and galactose, the other forms of sugar, are converted into glucose. Some glucose gets sent to the bloodstream while the rest is stored for later energy use. Once glucose is inside the liver, glucose is phosphorylated into glucose-6-phosphate, or G6P. G6P is further metabolized into triglycerides, fatty acids, glycogen or energy. Glycogen is the form in which the body stores glucose. The liver can only store about 100 g of glucose in the form of glycogen. The muscles also store glycogen. Muscles can store approximately 500 g of glycogen. Because of the limited storage areas, any carbohydrates that are consumed beyond the storage capacity are converted to and stored as fat. There is practically no limit on how many calories the body can store as fat. The glucose stored in the liver serves as a buffer for blood glucose levels. Therefore, if the blood glucose levels start to get low because you have not consumed food for a period of time Continue reading >>
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 Sugar Makes You Fat
Look at how many grams of sugar are in what you’re eating (on the nutritional label). Now divide that number by 4. That’s how many teaspoons of pure sugar you’re consuming. Kinda scary, huh? Sugar makes you fat and fatfree food isn’t really free of fat. I’ve said it before in multiple articles, but occasionally, I’ve had someone lean over my desk and say “How in the heck does sugar make you fat if there’s no fat in it?”. This article will answer that puzzler, and provide you with some helpful suggestions to achieve not only weight loss success, but improved body health. First, let’s make some qualifications. Sugar isn’t inherently evil. Your body uses sugar to survive, and burns sugar to provide you with the energy necessary for life. Many truly healthy foods are actually broken down to sugar in the body – through the conversion of long and complex sugars called polysaccharides into short and simple sugars called monosaccharides, such as glucose. In additions to the breakdown products of fat and protein, glucose is a great energy source for your body. However, there are two ways that sugar can sabotage your body and cause fat storage. Excess glucose is the first problem, and it involves a very simple concept. Anytime you have filled your body with more fuel than it actually needs (and this is very easy to do when eating foods with high sugar content), your liver’s sugar storage capacity is exceeded. When the liver is maximally full, the excess sugar is converted by the liver into fatty acids (that’s right – fat!) and returned to the bloodstream, where is taken throughout your body and stored (that’s right – as fat!) wherever you tend to store adipose fat cells, including, but not limited to, the popular regions of the stomach, hips, but Continue reading >>
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 >>
The Science Behind Fat Metabolism
Per the usual disclaimer, always consult with your doctor before experimenting with your diet (seriously, go see a doctor, get data from blood tests, etc.). Please feel free to comment below if you’re aware of anything that should be updated; I’d appreciate knowing and I’ll update the content quickly. My goal here is to help a scientifically curious audience know the basic story and where to dive in for further study. If I’m successful, the pros will say “duh”, and everyone else will be better informed about how this all works. [UPDATE: based on a ton a helpful feedback and questions on the content below, I’ve written up a separate article summarizing the science behind ketogenic (low-carb) diets. Check it out. Also, the below content has been updated and is still very much applicable to fat metabolism on various kinds of diets. Thanks, everyone!] tl;dr The concentration of glucose in your blood is the critical upstream switch that places your body into a “fat-storing” or “fat-burning” state. The metabolic efficiency of either state — and the time it takes to get into one from the other — depends on a large variety of factors such as food and drink volume and composition, vitamin and mineral balances, stress, hydration, liver and pancreas function, insulin sensitivity, exercise, mental health, and sleep. Carbohydrates you eat, with the exception of indigestible forms like most fibers, eventually become glucose in your blood. Assuming your metabolism is functioning normally, if the switch is on you will store fat. If the switch is off, you will burn fat. Therefore, all things being equal, “diets” are just ways of hacking your body into a sufficiently low-glycemic state to trigger the release of a variety of hormones that, in turn, result in 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 >>
Glycogen And Diabetes - Role, Storage, Release & Exercise
Glycogen is a stored form of glucose. It is a large multi-branched polymer of glucose which is accumulated in response to insulin and broken down into glucose in response to glucagon . Glycogen is mainly stored in the liver and the muscles and provides the body with a readily available source of energy if blood glucose levels decrease. Energy can be stored by the body in different forms. One form of stored energy is fat and glycogen is another. Fatty acids are more energy rich but glucose is the preferred energy source for the brain and glucose also can provide energy for cells in the absence of oxygen, for instance during anaerobic exercise. Glycogen is therefore useful for providing a readily available source of glucose for the body. In a healthy body, the pancreas will respond to higher levels of blood glucose , such as in response to eating, by releasing insulin which will lower blood glucose levels by prompting the liver and muscles to take up glucose from the blood and store it as glycogen. People with diabetes either do not make enough of their own insulin and/or their insulin does not work effectively enough. As a result, the pancreas may not be able to respond effectively enough to rises in blood glucose. In these situations, when the body feels extra glucose is needed in the blood, the pancreas will release the hormone glucagon which triggers the conversion of glycogen into glucose for release into the bloodstream. Glycogen plays an important role in keeping our muscles fuelled for exercise. When we exercise, our muscles will take advantage of their stored glycogen. Glucose in our blood and glycogen stored in the liver can also be used to keep our muscles fuelled. Once we complete our exercise session, our muscles will replenish their glycogen stores. The tim 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 >>
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 >>
How Is Glucose Stored In The Liver?
The liver is large and in charge. The dark reddish-brown organ sits in the upper right abdomen and, at about 3 pounds, is the largest one inside the body (the skin is the largest organ overall). The liver manages a dizzying array of tasks, including digesting fats, making and storing glucose, and serving as the body's detox center. Glucose Warehouse The liver is an insulin-guided organ: Its behavior changes depending on the level of the hormone insulin in the body and how sensitive the liver is to that insulin. After eating, blood glucose levels rise, which in people without diabetes triggers the pancreas to release insulin into the blood. Insulin is the signal for the body to absorb glucose from the blood. Most cells just use the glucose to supply them with energy. But the liver has a special job when it comes to glucose. When levels of glucose (and consequently insulin) are high in the blood, the liver responds to the insulin by absorbing glucose. It packages the sugar into bundles called glycogen. These glucose granules fill up liver cells, so the liver is like a warehouse for excess glucose. When glucose levels drop, insulin production falls, too. The shortage of insulin in the blood is the signal that the liver needs to liquidate its assets, sending its glucose stores back into the blood to keep the body well fed between meals and overnight. The liver doles out stored glucose and has the singular ability to make glucose from scratch. This is a critical function that keeps people alive when food is scarce. In people with diabetes, however, the liver doesn't process and produce glucose normally, adding to the challenge of blood glucose control. The liver can't directly detect blood glucose levels; it knows only what insulin tells it. So, if there is a shortage of ins Continue reading >>
What Happens To Unburned Carbohydrates?
Your body uses mostly carbohydrates as well as fats for energy. Because the body doesn’t store carbs efficiently, they’re used first. Carbohydrates turn into glucose, which your body burns immediately or converts to glycogen to be stored in the muscles and liver for between meals. If you eat more calories from carbs or other sources than your body can use, the cells store the excess as fat. Of the three major nutrients -- carbohydrates, fat and protein -- the body burns carbs first for energy because they can’t be stored in great quantities. The carbohydrates in food get broken down into glucose, which moves into the small intestine, then the liver and into the blood. As blood sugar rises, the pancreas produces insulin, which signals the cells to take up sugar. Whatever glucose the cells don’t need immediately for energy is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When the blood sugar levels fall -- such as between meals -- the liver releases glycogen. This cycle keeps your body supplied with a steady source of fuel. Insulin Resistance If you have insulin resistance or diabetes, the sugar-insulin cycle doesn’t work properly, leading to too much sugar and insulin circulating in the blood until eventually your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is resistant to its effects. This is why people with diabetes or prediabetes often track the carbs they eat; eating too many carbohydrates, especially sugars and refined starches, can cause blood sugar and/or insulin to spike to potentially dangerous levels in people with diabetes. How Carbs Turn Into Fat When you eat too many calories, especially in the form of sugars and quickly burned starches, your body may reach its storage capacity for glycogen. The liver converts the stored sugars into triglycerides, or f Continue reading >>
What Is Insulin And It's Connection To Fat Storage
Insulin is one of those words that everybody’s heard of, but many can’t actually explain. Asked what it is and why it’s important, they shuffle their feet and uncomfortably shrug their shoulders. For those people concerned with controlling their body fat levels (and who isn’t?) that creates a problem. Insulin, you see, has a critical part to play in determining whether your body is lean and mean or flabby and lethargic. Let’s find out how. The Carb / Insulin Connection Every piece of food that we eat travels down into our stomach and is broken down into small particles that travel through the gastro-intestinal tract. When that food is in the form of carbohydrate it gets broken down into glucose. Now, your body can only use so much of that glucose at any one time. What doesn’t get used gets stored by your body. To transport that spill-over glucose to its storage site, your body produces a hormone called insulin. You could liken insulin to a railway carriage cart that carries glucose around the body. If the body didn’t produce insulin, we’d end up with a whole lot of excess sugar in the blood. This would make the blood extremely thick and difficult to move through the veins and arteries. This would require the heart to pump a lot harder to move the blood around the body. The Fat Storage Train There are only a couple of places that the insulin can carry the extra glucose to. The first place is the liver. There it will either be used or moved on to the next location, which is the muscle cell. The more muscle we have, the more glucose is required for maintenance and energy. That’s why the more muscle you have, the leaner you will be. If the muscle cell rejects the glucose that is offered to it because it’s already saturated, that glucose will then be stor Continue reading >>