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How Carbohydrate Metabolism Affects Weight

Fitday Editor

Carbohydrate metabolism refers to the process your body goes through to break down carbohydrates into energy. Eating too much carbohydrates can cause an increase in your body's fat storage. But, eating too little can have drastic health consequences.

What is a Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrates come into your body in the form of food. Grains, rice, cereals, sweets, most fruits and all the foods that derive from them are primarily carbohydrates. While protein foods provide your body with strength and healing abilities, carbohydrate foods give your body the energy it needs to function.

Your body uses carbohydrates as its main supply of fuel. Once eaten, the body turns carbs into sugar called glucose. Insulin flushes the glucose into your cells, where it becomes energy. If there is extra glucose left over from the process, it is stored as fat.

Different Carbs Play Different Parts in Weight Control

There are three different types of carbohydrates that a weight-conscious person should be aware of: fiber, complex and simple carbohydrates. Fiber is indigestible carbohydrates. High fiber foods contain components that do not break down in the body, and do not get converted to energy or fat. They give the body a full feeling while traveling through it, and provide other health benefits, such as contributing to heart and colon health.

Then there are two kind of digestible carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar and fruit, break down quickly into glucose. Recent studies suggest that certain simple carbohydrates can cause such a quick rush of insulin that they actually increase appetite and the risk of excess fat storage. Complex carbohydrates break down slower and burn as energy longer. They are in general less fattening.

The Healthiest Carb

Complex carbohydrates cause slower insulin rises and are less likely to increase appetite. They are also likely to contain vitamins and other important nutrients. Most health authorities recommend eating complex carbohydrates as your primary source of nutrition, both for weight loss and general good health. This mean incorporating sensible portions of whole grain pasta, breads and cereals into your diet.


There are many disorders of carbohydrate metabolism. Lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, and Galactosemia are all conditions resulting from the inability to properly break down carbs. The most commonly known carbohydrate-related disorder is diabetes. If your body cannot produce enough insulin to metabolize the sugar you eat, you may develop diabetes. There are two types. Type 1 Diabetes is most common in children. It occurs because cells in the pancreas do not release enough insulin into the blood. Type 2 diabetes occurs in older adults. It is a condition that develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin, so more insulin is needed to flush the sugar out of the blood. This is a common complication of obesity. The results of untreated diabetes in either cause is high sugar levels in the blood. The sugar damages blood vessel walls and impair repair processes. This can lead to blindness, gangrene requiring amputation of limbs, and other diseases.

Despite the popularity of low-carb diets, carbohydrates are an important part of both a healthy diet and a successful weight-loss regime. When eaten in sensible portions, carbohydrates break down to give only energy, not excess fat.

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