Normal Metabolism- Fuel for Your Body

Every cell in your body, from the cells of your skin, to your red blood cells, to your nerve cells must have energy to function:

That energy is measured in Calories.

It is similar with a car. A car runs on energy measured in BTUs (British Thermal Unit). Now we don’t put BTU’s in our car. Imagine what the gas station attendant would think if we pulled up to the pump and said, “fill er up with BTUs”. No, instead we specify the type of fuel, premium, regular, diesel and so forth. Once we place the appropriate fuel in our car, the car turns the fuel into energy which is measured as BTUs enabling it to run down the road.

Let’s take a look at the 4 fuel types that make calories to power our body:

1) Carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugar or glucose. For every gram of carbohydrate you get 4 calories. Glucose is the primary fuel used for muscle, fat tissue, and your liver.

2) Fat which gives us a whopping 9 calories/ gram that is more than twice what we receive from a gram of Carbohydrates. This makes fat a calorie dense food.

You can think of fat and carbohydrate in terms of a wood stove. If you threw a piece of heavy oak or walnut into a stove, it will burn and provide heat for a long time, where if you threw a piece of light pine into a fire it would be burned up quickly. You may have to put more wood in more than twice as often if you are using pine as compared to oak or walnut. The same is true of carbohydrates vs. fat. You may feel hungry faster after eating carbohydrate vs. fat because the fuel burns quicker. Indeed it has less than half the calories than the fat.

3) Protein, Your body breaks protein down into Amino Acids. Protein gives you 4 calories from each gram. This is the same amount as Carbohydrate.

4) Another fuel, which we don’t often think of as such, is alcohol. Alcohol gives 7 calories/ gram. This is why people can drink a lot of calories down in the form of wine, alcohol or beer, get plenty of calories but be starving for sustainable nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

Now, your body breaks down fuel, converting it to energy. To help us measure the amount of energy produced we have what is named a calorie. A calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. Of note this is different that the Kilocalorie or Calorie with a capital C, which raises on Kilogram of water one degree Celsius. When you see Calories/ serving on a package in the grocery store it is actually referring to a Kilocalorie. Big C Calorie = a Kilocalorie.

Now your body takes the fuels, carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol and reduces or converts them into sugar or glucose. This glucose is transported into the cell via insulin.

Normal blood glucose is defined as 60-110 if a person has been fasting or 70-about 140 non-fasting. These are optimal levels needed to provide energy to your muscles, your brain cells and every cell in your body that has a business to do.

The brain, a unique and undoubtedly important organ also must have glucose for energy. However it is unable to make or store more than a few minutes supply. Obviously we cannot eat 24 hours a day to provide a steady state of glucose to the brain (and whole body for that matter). So your body is designed with the ability to store glucose in your liver. This stored glucose is then released when your body has need.

But what happens when we put to much fuel into our body? Some people are good at burning fuel efficiently. Each of us is different. But what we do know is that to produce one pound of fat we need 3,500 calories, in excess of our needs, for maintenance and activity.

Keep checking back! There is more to come!

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