Our bodies are amazing, efficient machines. When we consume carbohydrates, they DO provide fuel to the body and brain. The problem lies in the fact that in general, we consume too many.
What happens when we eat carbohydrates?
When we eat carbohydrates, the stomach digests them with enzymes and fluids and breaks them further down into glucose, another type of sugar. From there, the glucose is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine and carried to the bloodstream.
That glucose (sugar) in our blood tells the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is a very powerful hormone that tells our cells to either use the sugar for energy OR store it for later use. Insulin is sometimes referred to as the “key” that unlocks the doors of our cells to let that energy in, thereby lowering our blood sugar levels.
When we eat more than we need…
When you have more glucose (which is what all carbohydrates are broken down into metabolically) than you need, that insulin tells the liver to store it. In the liver, the glucose that it has room to store is converted into glycogen, which it will release during lower blood-sugar periods, like a reserve tank of gas.
Unfortunately, the liver does not have much capacity for glycogen storage (only about 100g or 5% of liver mass), so what glycogen cannot be stored in the liver or in the muscles (about 500g total) gets even FURTHER broken down into fatty acids. These bind to another glucose byproduct, glycerol, and form triglycerides.
THAT’S RIGHT – EXCESS CARBOHYDRATES LITERALLY TURN INTO FAT. It’s called lipogenesis.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat, and there is no limit to how many can be stored in your fat cells. Fat cells will grow to accommodate more and more triglycerides. In fact, nowhere in my research does it state that there is ANY limit to how much fat we can store in our bodies!
The problem with triglycerides is that they are linked to heart disease, and the more you have circulating in your blood, the more likely you are to also be facing obesity and metabolic syndrome.
How do I turn lipogenesis around and lower my triglycerides?
- Cut the sugar out of your diet. The more you restrict carbohydrates, the less triglycerides will be produced. This is why the Keto diet is such a great option for lowering triglycerides; instead of creating new stored fuel, having only 20 – 30 grams of carbohydrates per day will force your body to break down your existing triglycerides. And this will lead to you…
- Losing weight. And losing just 5 – 10% of your body weight can low your triglycerides by as much as 40 mg/dl! Research shows that once you lower those triglycerides by losing weight, they tend to stay 25% lower, even if you gain some of the weight back.
- Exercise. We all know that exercise is good for us. But not everybody knows that aerobic exercise increases “good” cholesterol, HDL, and that that has an inverse relationship with triglycerides! WOOHOO!
- Meditate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – MEDITATION IS SO DANG GOOD FOR YOU!! Not only does it clear your mind and prepare you for your day, for creativity, for work – it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone. Studies suggest that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Knowing this, why WOULDN’T you find the time to sit quietly for 5 – 30 minutes per day?
When we eat too many carbohydrates, our bodies can’t handle the overload. The extra gets turned into triglycerides via lipogenesis and is stored as fat in our bodies, affecting both weight and hormone levels. Switching to a low carbohydrate diet – like keto – and attending to your mind and body with proper diet, exercise, and meditation can reverse this heart-harming process!
Now, who doesn’t want a happy, healthy heart?
Do you have any further questions about lipogenesis? Let me know in the comments!