“Fat accumulation is regulated fundamentally by insulin and dietary carbohydrates – carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat.”
~ Gary Taubes
According to the well-research book ‘Why We Get Fat’ by Gary Taubes, eating too many carbohydrates is what makes people gain fat. This is because research shows that insulin is the only mechanism that transports glucose into the fat cell (for fat/energy storage) and carbohydrates are the only thing that drives up insulin. By reducing your carbohydrate intake, you will avoid having great spikes in your blood sugar levels which call for the release of insulin (insulin helps stabilize your blood sugar). Some experts argue that excess calories are the cause of fat gain and not excess carbohydrates. However, calorie restrictive diets often have negative short-term side effects such as increased hunger and cravings and negative long-term side effects such as muscle loss and the “yo-yo effect”.
To understand why low-carb and ketogenic diets work, you need to realize that your body has two fuel sources – glucose (energy from carbs) and ketones (energy from fat). Let’s look at glycogen (stored glucose) first. Your muscles and liver can store about 300-400 grams and 100 grams of glycogen respectively. This equals 1600-2000 calories of stored energy. What can you do with that much energy? To burn or use up 2000 calories, an average 180lb male would have to run about 11 miles (17.5 km) at a 5 mph (8 km/h) pace on flat terrain. At this pace, this run would take over 2 hours.
Now, let’s look at the second source of fuel called ketones. Just 1lb of stored fat is about 3500 calories. At the same 5 mph pace and flat terrain, the average 180 male would have to run about 19.25 miles (31 km) to burn off the 3500 calories. This run would take almost 4 hours. As you can see, ketones from fat can provide you with an abundance of energy.
Glycogen is your primary fuel source. This means your body will choose to use this source of energy before using your fat (ketones) reserves. If you are consuming a lot of carbohydrates throughout the day, your body will be using this fuel type instead of burning fat. If you consume more carbohydrates than your muscles and liver can store, the excess glucose will be absorbed by your fat cells and become ketones. If you are inactive most of the day then you only make matters worse. If you do not move regularly to burn off your glycogen stores then your blood will be overflowing with sugar (glucose) which your body needs to get rid of (high blood sugar is very dangerous) via releasing insulin to transport the glucose into the fat cells. In other words, you have a small tank of fuel which is full, yet you keep pouring more fuel into it. This excess fuel (glucose) then spills over and is collected by your second larger tank of fuel (fat storage tank).
If your goal is to lose fat then you have to ensure that your body is tapping into your fat storage tank. Your body will not do this if your glucose tank is always full and overflowing. The more you lower your carb intake, the more likely your body will tap into your fat reserves. In the “V10 Health Nutrition Program”, I developed a carbohydrate intake chart and a comprehensive food list to help people transition into a low-carb diet and if they are really motivated, into a well-formulated ketogenic diet. Everyone, who follows this program, loses body fat. In many cases, a lot of body fat!
Your V10 Coach,
P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://youtu.be/7uzJsKAKREI