How Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, & Hormones

Work to Cause Weight-Loss or Weight-Gain

Michelle Knepper, CPT


When you eat carbs, the body digests them and converts them into glucose which enters the bloodstream to be burned as energy. Your body converts glucose into glycogen which is stored in the liver and in your muscles. When small amounts of carbs are eaten, the small amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream is immediately used for energy.

The problems begin when you eat a meal that is too high in carbs. (bagels, juice, pasta) This is because too much glucose enters the bloodstream too rapidly. A high-carb meal stimulates a biochemical response that forces your body to burn glucose rather than stored body fat as its main source of fuel. The best advice is to eat carbs that are low in starch and sugar and high in fiber. Some examples are apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, oatmeal, rye, wild rice, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, yams. Balance of carbs to protein is very important. a 1.3 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein is recommended.

When you eat a high-carb snack prior to bedtime you cause blood sugar and insulin levels to soar. Elevated insulin during sleep not only blocks HGH (human growth hormone) release, inhibiting proper repair and recovery of your tissues, but you will find that you wake up either groggy and in need of more sleep and or very hungry from experiencing low blood sugar.



Protein is called the "building blocks of life" because they body uses protein to rebuild and repair tissue on the muscles and organs. More than half your dry body weight consists of protein. Your immune system requires protein to maintain balance. When you eat high protein foods (chicken breast, tuna, fish, etc) the digestive process breaks down the protein chains into amino acids. The amino acids enter the bloodstream and are transformed into more than 50,000 new body proteins. There are 10 essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. The body also cannot store excess amino acids the way it can carbohydrates and fat (remember, stored carbs and fats = body fat) So you must supply your body with adequate amount of protein EVERY time you eat.

If your daily diet is lacking the proper amount of protein, your body's ability to make new body proteins slows down and you actually start to break down existing body protein (muscle) to supply the body with the amino acids that your food is lacking. This is the WORST thing that can happen. Because you sacrifice muscles, your fat burning machines, your metabolism slows way down. This results in your body burning fewer calories and fat. This is why and how you can lose muscle tone on high-carb diets. Protein is the ONLY macronutrient that builds and maintains muscles. Never skip eating protein at breakfast or lunch to save it for dinner. You will be greatly increasing your body's ability to store fat instead of burning it.

Good protein sources not only include chicken, fish, and lean red meats, but soy, eggs and egg whites, tofu, and why protein powder.



Fat has definitely gotten a bad reputation. Not all fat is bad. Without a certain amount of fat in our diets we cannot burn stored bodyfat. Fat in the diet provides you with energy, the release of CCK, a hormone that signals the brain that you're full and to stop eating, essential fatty acids for proper metabolism of foods and vitamins, a control mechanism to slow the rate of carb into the bloodstream and reduce the rate of insulin secretion.

Stored 'body fat' is the body's preferred source of energy. Total fat should not exceed 30% of the total daily calories. 10% saturated, (animal meats, hydrogenated oils) 10% unsaturated (vegetable oils) and 10% monounsaturated (vegetables, avocados,canola oil, olives).

The "good fats" are UNprocessed and occur naturally in foods. (Avocados, salmon, tuna, herring, crab, raw nuts, seeds) The "bad fats" are called trans fats. They contain trans fatty acids and are found in hydrogenated oils. (check your margarine labels, cookie and cracker packages, etc.).



Hormones can be very powerful in determining whether you burn fat or store fat. INSULIN is viewed as the body's fat storage hormone. It is secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels. This is primarily from ingesting excessive carbs in a meal. Increased levels of insulin force your body to burn glucose for energy, and store any excess away as glycogen or fat. You CANNOT effectively burn fat with elevated levels of insulin. Even if you exercise like wild. Besides not burning fat, elevated insulin can cause blood sugar concentrations to drop too low. This can result in a temporary hypoglycemia. Symptoms range from mood swings, to low energy, loss of concentration, muscle cramping, uncontrollable hunger, sugar and carb craving. Now, on the flip side, if you greatly restrict your carb intake your brain gets a little testy. The brain requires a constant steady stream of glucose for fuel. If it does not get an adequate supply of carbs, your body uses its available glucose and glycogen stores. Then it turns to fat and muscle mass to supply energy, producing an abnormal metabolic response called ketosis. Ketosis alters the enzymes in fat cells. Ketosis causes muscle mass to be sacrificed and broken back down into amino acids to be converted directly into glucose for the brain. The loss of muscle mass means the loss of fat burning sites. Thus less fat will be burned. It is easy to understand then why 98% of all low-carb and high-pro diets fail. The followers of those methods usually gain back any weight they may have lost and usually more than they lost to begin with.

Glucagon is considered the fat-burning hormone. It is stimulated by the pancreas in response to intake of protein. It's main job is to maintain stable blood sugar levels in your body. It does this by activating and releasing stored body fat so it can be burned for energy.



A moderate amount of carbs, pro, fat helps keep blood sugar balanced. Fat slows down the absorption and digestion of the carbs, providing a steady, ongoing supply of glucose which keeps the fat storage hormone insulin low. Protein in a meal stimulates the release of the fat-burning hormone, glucagon, thereby maximizing your ability to burn stored body fat for energy.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

If you found this article or website to be of value to you, please click here to support this website with a voluntary donation. $5.00
Suggested payment per online question asked of Annette. $10.00
Suggested payment per hour of phone consultation or counseling. $80.00
Search This Website
Search The Web