Gluconeogenesis: The Body Makes It Own Carbs
2006 Brooklyn conference T-shirt states "I Get My Carbs From GNG"
As an ongoing student of the low-carb lifestyle, I have to admit I don't always understand every little detail about how and why this way of eating works so well to help people manage their obesity, diabetes, and other health-related issues.
But that doesn't mean I'm just gonna throw my hands up in the air in disgust and give up trying to absorb all the information I can about livin' la vida low-carb. Instead, hopefully I can impart to you what I have learned in easy-to-understand language that will make it crystal clear why low-carb is the fantastically miraculous nutritional approach so many of us think it is.
Today I want to introduce to you a vital concept in the wonderful world of low-carb that you may or may not have heard about before. I discovered it for the first time in January at the Nutritional & Metabolic Aspects of Carbohydrate Restriction conference in Brooklyn, New York. The more I find out about this process, the bigger my smile gets for choosing low-carb as my permanent lifestyle change.
Understanding this revolutionary concept alone about low-carb will arm you with so much knowledge that you will simply confound the enemies of low-carb living so much they'll be speechless! :)
What is it? In a word, it's GLUCONEOGENESIS!
Glucosaywhatsaywhat?!?! Get used to saying it because it is a key concept in livin' la vida low-carb. Gluconeogenesis (Pronounced GLUE-CO-NAY-OH-GEN-EH-SIS), also known as GNG (that's easier to say anyway, isn't it?), is the body's way of creating glucose, or sugar carbs, out of the breakdown of proteins in the liver.
Thus, in the T-shirt diagram at the top of this column, you see how this gluconeogenesis process works.
Although opponents of low-carb programs believe you are depriving your body of important dietary elements when you don't eat a the large amount of carbohydrates their low-fat buddies want you to, gluconeogenesis blows that theory out of the water because actually your body can make its own carbs from the protein you eat.
Did you know this? I dare say not many people do. Should gluconeogenesis be a part of any discussion of healthy dietary methods and what is absolutely necessary for people to consume for energy? I sure think so!
During gluconeogenesis, blood glucose levels in the body are normalized and maintained when the glucose is synthesized in the liver. During those times when the body is not taking in any food (i.e. while you are sleeping), gluconeogenesis goes to work in this "fasting" mode using amino acids, lactate, and glycerol to begin creating the sugar the body needs and is controlled by hormones such as cortisol and insulin to maintain proper levels of glucose.
After about one day of fasting, all of the glycogen in the liver is depleted and gluconeogenesis begins in earnest using things such as lactic acid and protein to create glucose for the body. The exciting part of gluconeogenesis is that it sets your body into FAT-BURNING mode (WOO HOO!), or ketosis (the state you put your body in when you are on the Induction phase of 20g carbs daily for the first two weeks of the Atkins diet), where excess ketone bodies are released into the blood system, brain, heart and muscles for energy.
Isn't this an incredible process? Once you grasp the concept of gluconeogenesis, you are light years ahead of most people in understanding better about the low-carb lifestyle and what makes it so special in the realm of diet, health and nutrition.
More importantly, you will have the scientific facts to throw back at these naysayers (remember this one?!) who tell you that you "need" to eat carbohydrates for your body to function right. As my wife would say, "Bullfunky!" No you don't. With gluconeogenesis working for you, your body could never take in another carbohydrate ever again and still survive just fine.
That's the amazing process of gluconeogenesis defined!