You’re at lunch with a few friends. Somehow you chose a buffet but you’re not worried because you are determined to eat clean today. So you just do the vegetables and fats and protein. You’re super proud of yourself and even consider commenting on the grub your friends made disappear. But suddenly as you’re on way back to the table… you see an army of these litter bastards…
Picture by M.Sheldrake
Well… come on… it’s a buffet with friends! And look at what those balloon boys in the next table ate! You’ve eaten clean all along… you totally deserve this little treat! So you do the deed! A tiny forkful goes in… your eyes close… you hear ‘mmmmmm’ inside your head. You open your eyes and you have no idea how… but you’re standing in the buffet line and this monster stares at you…
Picture by Ulterior Epicure
And even that is only a part of…
Picture by Michael Seidel
“If God made me come here today he wanted me to eat this…!” Chomp chomp chomp!
I’m sure most of us can relate to the above sequence of events. For some of us who have access to dessert everyday… this is an everyday event. FYI… this is just an example of carbo-loading and going bamboozle on rice and bread and pasta is also carbo-loading and is equally disruptive inside the body.
But seriously… what’s wrong with eating sugar everyday? What’s wrong with carbo-loading everyday? What’s the worst that could happen?
I’ll try and explain what happens inside your body in a way that you can understand and remember.
– You whirl-winded that dessert buffet. Instantly all the sugar and other carbohydrates get converted to glucose.
– Now the body has to do something to remove the glucose from the blood stream right. So the beta cells in your pancreas sense the excess glucose in the blood stream and secrete… insulin! The great great insulin! Insulin is a hormone and the guy’s purpose is regulating energy and glucose metabolism in the body.
– Point number one on insulin’s job description reads “Should be capable to cause cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood”. Being super qualified and super diligent insulin tries to remove the glucose from the blood stream and store it in muscle cells and/or liver cells. Insulin knocks the door of these cells and the doormen (receptor cells) answers. If there is space in the muscle cells and liver cells the glucose is let in and stored there as muscle glycogen and liver glycogen respectively. If not? It gets interesting now. Read on.
– If the muscle cells and liver cells are saturated with glycogen (as in most untrained/sedentary individuals or even trained individuals when there is lack of activity) the doormen ignore the knocking i.e. the receptor cells do not respond to the call of insulin.
– Now the blood stream has glucose and your body is freaking out because it has no place to store all this extra glucose! Taadaaaa!! There is one place where all this glucose (and much more) can be stored! Fat cells!!! All the excess glucose is now pushed into your fat cells and converted into fat… saturated fat.
So the dessert you just enjoyed like there was no end… is now fat in your body. Slimy greasy grimy fat!
But wait… this ain’t over!
If you keep doing this carbo-loading on a daily basis…
– Glucose level in the blood stays high for longer periods of time. Beta cells secrete insulin to remove glucose from the blood stream.
– Insulin knocks on muscle and liver cells. He is ignored by the doorman (receptor cells) because the cells are already full with glycogen.
– Glucose still lingers in the blood stream. Your body flips out and secretes more insulin. New insulin knocks on muscle and liver cells again. Ignored again. Glucose is pushed into fat cells.
– This process continues until all the glucose is stored as fat. The more you carbo-load the more this process happens. Slowly but steadily… the receptor cells (doormen) lose sensitivity to insulin’s call and are rewired to ignore any call from insulin. What does this mean? Yep! Insulin resistance! Click here for more information.
– From this point forward any carbohydrate, not even sugar… ANY carbohydrate, you eat will be converted to glucose and will automatically be stored as fat!
Well by now you’re probably 35-40 yrs old… you’re getting fatter and fatter… your 10 yr old is much faster than you are… you can’t climb a flight of stairs without puffing and panting! Life sucks! The cake by the way… is still awesome for people who can eat it. Not you though. You’ve been ‘strongly advised’ by your physician to not consume any sweets… since you’re either diabetic or almost diabetic.
10-15 yrs from today… you’re finally on a diet! A diet not to improve performance or to lose fat… but a diet to save your life! A diet without which you might end up losing limbs and dying a lot earlier than you imagined.
I know this is pretty depressing and all that… but I’m not making this shit up.
So… no sugar at all? No cake? No chocolate? No shakes?
Well… I’m not asking you to forgo everything thats sweet. Use it wisely. Don’t go on a sugar binge every time you see dessert. Don’t jump on the carb train to diabetesburg every time you go to an Indian buffet. Have sugars sparingly. For no-occasion desserts there is always dark chocolate (>70% cocoa) and berries!
If you have to carbo-load, do it at a time when it will be best utilized by the body i.e. immediately after intense activity. Intense activity here could be a hard workout or a game or some heavy house work… just make sure you are exhausted and you need the energy. The reason for this is that your muscle cells are glycogen depleted after intense activity and providing your body with quick energy (carbs) during that time will not only restore glycogen in the muscle cells… but also spike insulin sensitivity.
I’m also writing a blog post enlisting the rowdy activities sugar does to cause destruction in your body. Until then… I hope this will keep you guys from falling for the carblicious traps that are omnipresent.
Stay safe folks… it’s a carb jungle out there!