The Dirty: Blood Sugar
As you might have heard, the body uses food (i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) as a source of energy to fuel our conscious, waking activity as well as our unconscious, bodily functions. Shocker right? As a science refresher…The body uses a series of chemical reactions and hormones to convert a piece of bread (gluten free or not) to something that the cells can take in and then moves it to location in the body that could use the energy effectively. Insulin is the “helper” hormone that acts as a UPS truck to move the sugar molecule. This is a key concept here… insulin is a truck that only picks up sugar. (And ultimately why UPS has a major competitor… AKA FedEx!)
In healthy individuals, insulin responds to HOW MUCH sugar you take in and HOW MUCH the body needs. For instance, if you consume 1 apple, the pancreas will send out x molecules of insulin. If you say go out for Italian, eat a few pieces of bread, a plate of pasta, and a hunk of tiramisu, then the pancreas will release a much larger dose. When you consume an appropriate amount of carbohydrate, insulin will send the molecules needed for immediate use to the muscles first and then place the extra molecules in the liver for storage. Whenever an excessive amount of carbohydrates are consumed, the sugar molecules are converted to fat once the muscles and liver storage are maxed out. On top of this, the fat that is consumed is signaled to be uploaded to the fat cells for extra storage.
So that makes sense. However, the real deal happened as a person continues to take in excess carbohydrates (aka sugar) on a regular basis. The pancreas, who is making the insulin, and the actual insulin simply begin to wear out. Think of it as the pancreas would like to take short walks throughout the day; however, it has to run a marathon daily with burst of sprints mixed in. At some point, it is going to have to slow down (insulin resistance) if it does not stop running at together (diabetes).
Insulin resistance is a nightmare for weight loss. As the name indicates, the insulin molecule cannot adequately handle the load so almost all is converted directly to fat instead of being used by the muscles and liver first. Once a person becomes insulin resistance, a small and normal amount of carb intake can result in continual weight gain.
Our pleasure centers in our brain do not help the situation. Carbs induce a response that is similar to cocaine or sex (crazy!). Dopamine is sent out in response to the sugary high, which feels oh so good. During a carb binge, dopamine is hitting on all cylinders and you do not want the feeling to go away. This is what we call sugar cravings… a soft form of addition.
So lets summarize: you overeat, you continue to crave more and more, your insulin and pancreas gradually wears out, and you continue to put on the pounds.
The Savage Solution:
Eat small amounts of carbohydrates at one time. Carbs should take up no more than 25% of your meal.
Always pair your carbohydrate intake with a clean protein and, or fat source.
Stick to plant based, low-glycemic carbs when possible.
Limit your grain and fruit intake to 1 – 2 servings per day.