CARBOHYDRATE ENERGY: USAGE, STORAGE AND COMPETION

Glycolysis

Glycolysis means the breakdown of glucose. If we break down the word this makes sense; “Glyco” = glucose and “lysis” = splitting. What we split glucose down into is something called pyruvate, which can feed into the Krebs cycle, to make ATP energy.

Energy storage

If we take in more glucose than we need for energy, glucose can be turned into glycogen and to be stored in our muscles to use later for energy. Glucose can also be stored as fat in fat cells if we overfill our glycogen stores. Our glycogen stores hold about 2000 calories of energy, so it doesn’t take that much to fill them.

Energy competition

In the tissues of our body, there is competition between glucose and fatty acids to see which one will be used as fuel. When our blood glucose is raised from digesting carbohydrates, insulin (a storage hormone) is released which tells our bodies to use or store the glucose in our blood. Elevated blood glucose and insulin secretion stop fatty acids from being used as energy. Conversely, if fatty acid concentrations in the blood are high, this will encourage the use of fat as fuel, and reduce glucose metabolism.

The takeaway – To promote the usage of fat as fuel in our bodies, we can’t have high insulin or blood sugar. So dietary interventions that keep our blood sugar and insulin levels low will help in weight loss. The Paleo diet might be just right!

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