Carbohydrates have taken quite the beating lately and in the last couple of years low carb diets have taken over. But why are carbohydrates seen as bad? Before we answer that question first we have to understand why people blame carbohydrates for making us fat. The main reason is due to a hormone called insulin. In short, when you eat carbohydrates your body breaks it down into glucose (sugar). Insulin is then secreted from the pancreas to drive the glucose into the cell because of high glucose levels (high blood sugar), which are very toxic to the body. Insulin is produced and glucose leaves the blood and enters the cell, which then turns off the body’s ability to burn fat because the body is using glucose for energy instead of fat. This is the main reason why people blame carbohydrates for weight gain. When in reality this is incorrect because the body is much more complex and all the blame cannot be put on insulin. In fact,insulin actually has numerous benefits and is one of the main producers of antioxidants, but we will discuss that another time. Furthermore, carbohydrates aren’t the only thing that raise insulin levels. Actually, proteins and fats increase insulin levels too, just not as much as carbohydrates.
Insulin's main job is to open the cell and allow nutrients to pass into the cell, i.e the cell is locked and insulin is a key that unlocks it. Therefore, insulin is needed for the body to function because when insulin drives these nutrients into the cell it allows the body to store the energy for later use or use it right away. It is important to realize that the body needs a certain amount of energy (glucose) in it at all times. This is what we call our basal metabolic rate, i.e everyone burns an “X” amount of calories per day just by living. Glucose (energy) is needed for our cells and organs to function, specifically the brain. And yes, the body can use fat (fatty acids) and ketones as a fuel source, but this doesn’t matter in the big picture. At the end of the day all that matters is calories in versus calories out. Nevertheless, it’s imperative that you eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and eggs because they contain micro nutrients that are essential for the body to operate, but we will cover that next week. Stay tuned!