Challenge Forum: Why we get fat

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Joined: Dec 12
Posts: 40

Posted: 12 Jan 2013, 01:17

When you eat food and especially carbohydrates, your body uses a hormone called insulin to store the glucose (sugar) that is made from the foods you eat.

If you eat lots of carbohydrates, lots of insulin is released to quickly remove the sugar from the bloodstream into your cells where it can be stored.

This is a critical function because large amounts of circulating glucose can damage your body via a process called glycosylation. Imagine what maple syrup would do if it was poured on your computer's inner circuits. All the working parts would get super sticky and stop functioning correctly. So insulin's job is to move that sugar out of your bloodstream and into storage as a molecule called glycogen.

However, the human capacity to store carbohydrate as glycogen is limited to about 270 grams total. A small part is stored in the liver to be used by the brain, and the larger part is stored in our skeletal muscles as glycogen fuel reserves.

This muscle based fuel is meant to be a sort of "turbo charge" in a "fight or flight" situation. However, if you don't use this "turbo" fuel, it stays in the muscles. Once the limit is reached, your glycogen "tank" is full and no more glycogen can be stored there.

When the glycogen tanks are fuel, the cells of your liver and muscles put up a "stop sign" to insulin and refuse to take in any more glucose or make any more glycogen.

They do this by "downgrading" or desensitizing the insulin receptors on their cellular surface. The result is that they stop listening to insulin. Medically, you become insulin resistant. Unstored glucose starts to build up in the bloodstream, and more and more insulin must be secreted to move the glucose.

Since the glycogen tanks in the liver and muscles are full, your liver has to send the excess glucose to your fat cells to be stored as body fat. (The liver can also make the glucose into LDL cholesterol, which is why a high sugar diet is detrimental to heart health).

As you continue to eat a high carb diet, glucose and insulin levels increase, and so does fat storage. And when insulin levels remain high, none of that stored fat can get out of the cells to be burned off.

In effect, for people who are intolerant of carbohydrates, high glucose = high insulin = high body fat.

If this condition of having to store excess carbohydrate as fat continues, eventually you develop Metabolic Syndrome, a condition in which high glucose and high insulin lead to rampant obesity, and/or metabolic issues such as diabetes.
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