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Glucose, Glycerol, Glycogen, Glycemic, Triglycerides, Thermogenesis -- Too Many Dang Words That Look Alike

All calories are, by definition, thermogentic, heat-producing. Calorie is a unit of heat measurement. That doesn't seem like a very smart way of measuring nutritional value. Sort of a blunt instrument. In any case, here's a way to explain how high carb diets can result in less body fat. First, it's not refined carbs, so the uptake is slower. When we say carbs, we generally mean glucose. Glucose wants to be used right away. It's instant energy. It's the preferred fuel for emergencies. That's why it's blood sugar, and not tissue sugar. It's right there in the pipes, waiting.

So, it's used first by the brain and organs, as energy. Then it's formed into glycogen in cells -- concentrated energy molecules. Then it's stored as fat in cells. Too much glucose all at once stimulates a hysterical response from the liver to form triglycerides, the storage form of lipids, and by insulin to store the triglycerides away. So we want a low, steady drip, like an IV -- not a huge inundating bolus, the way we see villains murder bedridden victims in hospitals.

There is a normal range of body temperatures. One of the ways the body regulates blood sugar -- a non-insulin way -- is by using glucose to bump up the temperature. Once that upper level of the safety gauge is reached, insulin secretion becomes more aggressive. In the hierarchy of uses, brain/organ energy first, body heat, emergency muscle energy, fat creation, tumors.

As long as the IV drip is steady, you can eat more carbs/glucose without fat gain, because any slight excess will be used as heat. When carbs are too easily digested, the body doesn't opt for fever, but for fat, via insulin and glycerol.

Meanwhile, the glycerol byproduct of glucose-combustion can itself be used as fuel. If glucose levels are good, low, the body will opt to use glycerol as an auxiliary fuel source. When glucose becomes too abundant, glycerol stops burning as fuel and is used as the glue to bind free fatty acids into triglycerides, which get stored as blubber.

The trick is, low insulin. High insulin short-circuits the homeostasis process, and brings on a cascade of health problems. We achieve low insulin not by eating lots of fat and protein, but by eating sensible carbs as well, which are complex carbs, which are unrefined carbs, which are slow-to-digest carbs, which are fibrous carbs. Some grains, sure, once in a while. But low glycemic index, and a low-calorie to high-nutrient ratio. Fructose powder, then, sucks -- low glycemic index, but no nutrients at all. And it provokes a low but long-term insulin reaction -- which amounts to at least an equal overall exposure to raised insulin. Insidious.

Some of this is theory. But theory doesn't have to be true to have utility. Pace, marxism. It's that black box thing. We don't know what happens inside of it, but we know the results. How do we burn fat? That's really two questions -- what behaviors do we engage in, and what metabolic process occurs. The second is irrelevant for most purposes. What works, matters. Sensible diet, sensible exercise.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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