I was sitting in class the other day and our instructor asked a question about how a diet that is high in sugar can contribute to a rapidly expanding waistline and increased fat levels in our bodies.
I had to pause and really think about what the connection could be and then all of a sudden I was taken back to my biochemistry classes from undergrad and my first year in med school. In these classes I learned many of the bodies complex biochemical pathways such as glycogenesis and lipogenesis, which was the answer to this riddle.
When we consume sugar (glucose) our body releases the hormone INSULIN (I am sure we have all heard of this guy!). Insulin will then trigger cells in the body to increase their uptake of glucose and store it until the cells need it. However, there gets a point when the cells have enough glucose and don’t need anymore. So, what next? What happens to all the sugar that wasn’t taken up by cells? Well, it heads to the liver and muscle where it stimlates the process of glycogenesis. Glycogenesis is the process of making glycogen, the storage form of glucose in the body. But just like our cells have a limited space for glucose, there is also a very limited amount of space for glycogen storage. Now guess what happens to the excess glycogen. Simply put, it becomes FAT through the process of lipogenesis. And wouldn’t you know there just happens to be more room for fat in the body than glucose or glycogen. Fat gets deposited on organs, inside of cells, essentially everywhere, this is the point when our pants start to feel a little tighter, the crop tops just aren’t looking the same and our bra straps are digging in (speaking from some previous experience)!
Now glucose isn’t the only form of sugar that is found in many of our diets, there is also fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, but I will save that topic for another day as well as how our stored fats can become energy!
Best in Health,