The Carbohydrate cycle

Carbohydrates are- in simple terms- sugars and starches. They are absorbed from the digestive tract reasonably quickly, which is the reason why we get a rapid energy boost from a bar of chocolate, pastry etc. A hormone called Insulin is released, which then starts to lower the blood sugar level very quickly . When the sugar level in our blood goes down rapidly, we often feel weak, agitated or lethargic (hypoglycaemia), so we often have another sweet food to boost our sugar level. We might feel better for a while but soon Insulin kicks and we feel weak again and so the cycle goes on.

Most people associate Insulin with Diabetes, in which there is a problem with Insulin production which is true, but actually, Insulin is an essential hormone  in everyone. Insulin has many essential functions in maintaining life, but there is one function that is very important for the dieter. It causes excess carbohydrate to be stored as fat. In other words, it actually stimulates the deposit of fat around our bodies, especially around the waist and hips. Even worse, it actually prevents body fat from being used to provide energy, so the body cannot break down fat if Insulin levels are elevated. If the amount of Insulin released in the body is decreased, the blood glucose (blood sugar) will not plummet so dramatically, so the person does not become weak and irritable and will not feel the need to eat more carbohydrates for energy. Therefore, the body will not deposit the fat on the waist or hips. Even better, if someone lowers the Insulin levels, the body’s mechanisms are actually directed to “burn” fat preferentially. In simple terms, you have then switched on the body’s automatic fat-burning mechanism.

Reduce the refined carbohydrates.

The production of Insulin, is essentially controlled by the carbohydrate intake. Not fats or proteins. So if the consumption of refined carbohydrates is reduced drastically, Insulin levels are reduced as well.

Some people can now see why some previous diets have failed. Many diets recommend a huge amount of carbohydrates, such as cereals, grains,pasta, rice and pulses. Even if someone reduces the calorific intake and actually loses weight, the fat is still stored in the body, as Insulin continues to work. It is not medically possible to lose fat on some of the mainstream diets. Of course, the purpose is not to switch off Insulin completely here, We do need Insulin, but our bodies were not designed and never needed such large quantities of refined carbohydrates.

On the other hand, in”Starvation Diets”, again we lose weight but not much fat. When in starvation mode, the body uses up the energy stores of carbohydrates first (in the form of a substance called Glycogen). However, the body can only store a certain amount of Glycogen and it is usually used within two days. Then, it starts breaking down protein. Too much of protein break down will eventually compromise the Immune system  and the muscle mass.

A good balanced diet excluding refined carbohydrates or even complex carbohydrates for a few weeks and introducing high quality protein, could contribute towards a healthy weight loss.

If any questions or for more information, contact me.

Giovanna De Angelis Terzaki