So, to all of you thinking I’m crazy for removing sugar and processed foods from our lives for 21 days (and potentially more), this post is for you.
Diane goes into a great explanation in the guide book, ‘How glucose gets stored: insulin at work’ which I’m going to paraphrase for you…
So you have a new box of legos. You can hold so many in your hand; the rest must go into storage bins or be used to build something. Now imagine the legos as glucose and your hand as your bloodstream, you can’t keep more than 4 grams of glucose in your bloodstream at any given time so the ‘extra’ needs to either be used or stored. Storage of glucose is where insulin comes into play. Released by the pancreas in response to carbohydrates in your diet, insulin’s job is to send a message to your cells to let nutrients (including glucose) into your body’s ‘storage bins’: your liver and your muscles. The glucose that is stored in these ‘bins’ is now called glycogen. (But, before glucose is stored, your liver (the master regulator of blood glucose levels) runs a check to make sure that your brain and red blood cells get what they need… then it can proceed storing what’s left of the glucose. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin is produced in your body to make sure the glucose is stored for later use…. sounds efficient right? Like your body is planning ahead.. Well, there’s a catch. Just like your Lego bins can only hold so many Legos, your body only has so much storage space for carbohydrates (this exact level differs from person to person). So, now you’re wondering ‘Well what happens to the stuff I can’t store?’ Similarly to if you kept purchasing Legos and putting them in the bin without taking any of the old ones out to create new creations with them, the bins would overflow and you would have a BIG mess. In your body, the carbs that you don’t use up for activity/exercise and that you don’t have room to store as glycogen are converted to fat! FAT! The bane of our existence! Now, our bodies are sneaky … they have limited room for storage of carbohydrates, but UNLIMITED storage for fat… Fat is stored either circulating in the blood as triglycerides or as adipose (body fat).
Here’s some carbohydrate math for you to better empower your healthy choices:
total carbohydrate storage capacity = liver storage + muscle storage + carbs burned in a day
Now, if carbohydrates eaten > liver storage + muscle storage + carbs burned in a day , then your body has no choice but to store the excess as fat.
((Thanks Diane for that awesome explanation! If you want to read more details, please check out her book, The 21 Day Sugar Detox. How great was it that she used Legos to explain? Pretty creative, this one.))
Think about what you had for breakfast today. How does your breakfast measure up? (Click Here then click the corresponding category in the middle of the page for a great resource on carb content for various foods.)
Are you maxed out on your carb count for the day? Are you storing those extra carbs as fat? Hit the gym after work! Try a group exercise class like Cycle or Insanity for a session of high intensity exercise (this does not include walking or jogging), and/or hit the weights! Building more lean muscle mass will help you burn more calories all day long. Both high intensity exercise and lean muscle mass can increase your glycogen storage capacity, meaning your body will allow more legos in storage rather than storing them as fat! Who doesn’t want that? 🙂
(Pic borrowed from the amazing Spinning instructor, BenR from Greenville, SC. Go take his class @ SportsClub if you’re in Gville. & check out his awesome photos: Ben Robi Photography.)
It’s all a balancing act. Good carbs vs. Bad carbs. When the carbs are packaged as nature intended-together with vitamins and minerals, required for their metabolism- your body works efficiently.
If you thought I was crazy before, since I’m removing sugar from my diet, do you think I’m crazy now?
Tomorrow, make more efficient fueling choices. With facts and knowledge, I hope to empower you all to make healthy choices!
Add some carb-free sunshine to someone’s day & share this post with them! Bring them with you on your way to a healthy lifestyle!
(*As I am not a licensed healthcare professional, please consult with your doctor prior to starting or implementing a new diet or workout regimen.*)