One of the most important factors affecting our body composition is whether our bodies are happy to burn fat for energy instead of relying on sugar. This will depend on many factors including stress, eating patterns, meal frequency and meal composition.
We can use either fat or glucose to make energy. Our bodies are not designed to store much glycose at all. We can store a little in our muscles (therefore the more muscle you have the more you can eat and store) and a little in our liver as glycogen. Think of this glucose storage like a small sponge that can soak up blood glucose. When the sponge is full all other sugar must be taken to the liver, turned into triglycerides (fat) and then stored. We are designed to store lots of fat because it is such an efficient energy storage (it is light and we get nine calories of energy per gram of fat, compared with only four from sugar).
Please note - this guide has not been referenced, because it was created as an internal document to share among team members. However, people have found this valuable - so we have decided to release it as a free guide for the public. All the information was created by specialised nutritional practitioners who are trained in evolutionary science and functional medicine.
Simply put, blood glucose levels (BGL) refer to the amount of glucose we have circulating in our blood stream at any given time.
Our blood glucose levels are tightly monitored, we like to keep up to only 5g of sugar in the blood at one time (1tsp.).
Insulin is used to remove excess glucose from the blood and store it. Blood sugar highs result in crashes on the other side called hypoglycemia which is perceived as stress in the body. In response the body uses our stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol to break down glycogen stores, putting glucose back in the blood . At the same time we send signals to our brain to consume sugar to bring our blood sugar levels back into balance, leading to sugar and carbohydrate cravings
We should be able tonnes either glucose or fat for energy depending the availibility of each substrate and the activity for which we need the energy. We always use a bit of both, never just one or just the other, but one can become much more predominant. For basic functions and every day activities we can get the energy we need from predominantly burning fat or making ketones (from fat) meaning we do not need to be relying on Carbohydrates (glucose) for energy. In fact there is no essential need for carbohydrate in our diet. However, depending on exercise intensity and the goals of the training or exercise we do does change the amount of carbohydrate we might want ton include.
The main problem we come up against these days is that we have become so reliant on carbohydrate as our main energy source that our bodies have lost their flexibility and "forgotten" how to use fat.
Let's use this banking analogy to shed light on our fat stores and our glycogen stores, (glycogen is the form of glucose we can store).
You can think of your sugar storage capabilities like your current account. Our muscles and liver are our current account. More muscles allows bigger storage but essentially this is not a large storage capacity, and if we keep our current account consistently topped up, (i.e live within our means and wages go into current account and we never spend more than we have) we never have to dip into our saving account – great when it comes to money – not so when it comes to energy. This is equivalent to eating carbohydrates frequently throughout the day eg. breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.
Fat storage is more like your savings account, it has a much larger capacity that we can steadily build up ready for that rainy day (or famine). If we keep using only our current account and running on glucose, we don’t ever need to touch it. Once again great for money, not so when it comes to body composition. Therefore, if we want to start dipping into our savings account (and burn off some of those fat stores) then we need to drain the current account. This means, reducing dietary carbohydrate so that when blood sugars start to drop we force the body to dip into its fat stores to make ketones and burn fat to rebalance BGL and give us energy.
This is the ideal situation where we can happily switch between storing and using glucose or fat for energy to suit the environment and activity we are in. What is key is that the more muscle we have, the more glucose we can store which means the more we can handle in our diet. This is why muscle is a true longevity organ and why we all need to be lifting heavy things on a regular basis.
Insulin is an anti-catabolic hormone, meaning if we want to be losing weight and breaking down energy stores we don't want to be triggering insulin all day long. By constantly using insulin we store more fat and we block fat burning.
High circulating blood sugar “sticks” to proteins & lipids causing damage to their structure that affects function and efficiently removing glucose from leading to nerve damage, neuropathy, loss of eyesight, or ulcers that could lead to amputations.
Pumping viscous sugar laden blood causes damage to blood vessels, affecting circulation, especially in the smallest vessels that serve organs like the eyes, the kidneys, the brain and hearing. Damaged vessels that can't heal appropriately is the start of athlesclerosis.
Stick to the green line and stop using insulin inappropriately.
Industrialised food production churns out calorie dense, high sugar, high seed oil, nutrient deficient frankenfoods that dysregulate our blood glucose levels and stop us being able to efficiently use fat to make energy. Go back to a more simple, ancestral diet that relies on real food and stops inappropriate use of hormones to regulate blood sugar levels.
Insulin is an energy sensing and storing hormone - it is anti-catabolic. If you want to break down fat and stop storing it, reduce the insulin.
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