By Christina | October 13, 2008
You would think the answer to this is, you store a lot of carbohydrates. You have probably heard that the night before a marathon, adventure race or other endurance event you need to load up on the carbs. Actually, that’s not the case at all. So, what does happen when you overload on carbs?
Interestingly, the body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates. Be it in the liver or the muscles there is only so much “carb saturation” that is going to take place before the balance is stored as an unusable, excess calorie, weight gaining by product. The average person can retain approximately three to four hundred grams of carbs in the muscles. Unfortunately, you cannot access those. The other storage site is the liver which can house sixty to ninety grams. This is where carbohydrates are accessible for glucose conversion. This is equivalent to about two cups of cooked pasta and it represents your total reserve capacity to keep the brain working properly.
Unfortunately for those of you who love a dinner of rice, pasta, bread, or other carb, once the glycogen levels are to capacity in both the liver and the muscles, what’s left will be converted into fat and stored in the adipose tissue, or fat cells. You may be thinking, carbs are fat free so why should I worry about excess carbs, they won’t make me fat? Sadly, once they are rejected by the liver and muscles, they are stored as fat and so all your efforts to eat low fat or fat free are down the drain, sabotaged by what you thought was a safe food.
The news gets worse though, any food that is high in carbohydrates will generate a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rapid rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin then lowers the levels of blood glucose. Hmmm, so far it doesn’t sound so bad. Keep reading…
Insulin is essentially a storage hormone, one of its functions is to use the excess carbohydrates and save them as fat in case of future famine. So the insulin that’s stimulated by excess carbohydrates aggressively promotes the accumulation of body fat. The message your body is receiving when you eat excess carbohydrates is: “Store fat.”
It gets even worse. Not only do increased insulin levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy. So the excess carbohydrates in your diet not only make you fat, they make sure you stay fat. It’s a double whammy, and it can be lethal.
The next time you pile on the rice or pasta think about what you are really telling your body, “Hold on to the fat and never let go.”