How Excess Carbs = Body Fat

Many are surprised to learn that carbohydrates are unnecessary for survival. We’re not only perfectly capable of generating energy from non-carbohydrate sources, but we have a superior fuel source that’s OVER-available for many of you reading this.

I’m talking about FAT!  The majority of the population never taps into this preferred fuel source, because they have a consistent flow of carbohydrates all day, every day.

For the record, I’m not saying you should eat zero grams of carbohydrates to burn fat. I’m saying you’re not burning fat, and more than likely storing it, because your diet is too high in carbohydrates.  The easiest way to understand this is to think of the body as having 3 empty cups:

  • Cup 1 = Glucose to burn immediately for fuel
  • Cup 2 = Glycogen (converted glucose stored in the liver, muscle, & tissue) to burn if Cup 1 empty
  • Cup 3 = Stored Fat (converted glucose stored in fat cells) to burn if Cup 1 & 2 empty

Once Cup 1 & 2 are full, any excess glucose (previously consumed carbohydrate) is converted to fat (palmitic acid) in the liver, and either sent to the bloodstream (triglycerides), or stored as body fat. The larger this excess in carbohydrates, the more body fat you store, or the higher the number of circulating triglycerides in your blood. Since we can only burn the contents of cup 2 via exercise, the daily carbohydrate intake necessary to reach cup 3 is much smaller if you’re sedentary.

The only way to effectively tap into our fat reserves (body fat) while still maintaining our health and nourishing our bodies with essential nutrients, is to empty Cups 1&2.  This can be achieved by exercising more to burn the glucose and glycogen, or eating less carbohydrates to begin with. Since the amount of exercise required to consistently burn the glucose is somewhat unrealistic, and potentially damaging, lowering your carbohydrate intake is the superior solution.

Note: You could also try eating less, but this is another short-term resolution that causes more harm than good in the long run.

By eating less carbohydrates, you not only stop overflowing into cup 3 (new fat), but you empty cups 1&2, which means your body has to access previously stored fat for energy. A 1971 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Put three groups on 1800 calorie diets that differed only in carbohydrate content – 104g, 60g, or 30g per day. After 9 weeks, fat loss was 8.9, 10.8, and 15.4kg, respectively.

Generally speaking, the lower the intake the faster and greater the fat loss.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike