How easily do carbs become fat?

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How easily do carbs become fat? Empty How easily do carbs become fat?

Post by sharperhawk on Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:09 pm

In paleo and low carb circles, we often hear that carbs get turned into body fat. Mark Sisson has published the Carbohydrate Curve graph that summarizes his recommendations for losing fat or maintaining a healthy body composition.

How easily do carbs become fat? WqvQLgE

Robert Lustig has said that fructose in particular is likely to be turned into fat in the liver.

Bill Lagakos has a detailed explanation of what happened when people were fed 5000 calories per day, including 1000 grams of carbohydrate per day:

➡️ Are carbs stored as fat?

It appears that carbs tend to get burned for fuel or stored as glycogen and that dietary fat tends to get stored as body fat. It is possible for carbs to be converted to fat, but it happens in relatively small amounts. Overeating in general is going to lead to a bigger body, but overeating dietary fat is most likely of the three macros to lead to increasing body fat.
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Post by Annieh on Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:29 pm

But overeating carbs is so easy to do.
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Post by Rig D on Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:58 pm

I don't know, and not really interested in the analysis of what happens in your body when you eat fats vs carbs vs protein. I'm only interested in how my body reacts, and how I feel, when I eat according to different food consumption patterns.

For my N=1, my body seems to run much better, less food consumption urges, "cleaner" if you will, when I keep my carbs low. I've been working at it now since 2012, and when I eat carb heavy meals, I will absolutely feel worse, sluggish, unmotivated, brain dim, etc. etc. And I will gain weight. Whether that is carbs being stored, excess water being retained, whatever, it doesn't matter to me, it is extra poundage that I must tote around all day.
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Post by jackmormon on Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:43 pm

Rig D wrote:I don't know, and not really interested in the analysis of what happens in your body when you eat fats vs carbs vs protein. I'm only interested in how my body reacts, and how I feel, when I eat according to different food consumption patterns.

For my N=1, my body seems to run much better, less food consumption urges, "cleaner" if you will, when I keep my carbs low. I've been working at it now since 2012, and when I eat carb heavy meals, I will absolutely feel worse, sluggish, unmotivated, brain dim, etc. etc. And I will gain weight. Whether that is carbs being stored, excess water being retained, whatever, it doesn't matter to me, it is extra poundage that I must tote around all day.

This is exactly my experience also and I like the science and all that but what really matters to me is what actually works for me and most importantly what works for me long-term. I think any way of eating has to be long term sustainable for it to be worth it.

My opinion only is that Mark's carb curve is 100% spot on for me. It kind of irritates me that he has back-channeled on this with the Keto thing. I haven't read his Keto book but hopefully he is not urging people to do medically ketogenic diets (<20g carb per day) which I don't think is sustainable for myself or too many other people. Not convinced that eating the keto 80% fat/15% protein/<5% carbs is really healthy or doable over the course of time. (This is from someone who has been dipping in and of ketosis, almost daily for going on 8 years.)

Keeping carbs under 100g a day has led me from being a 5ft 8in male weighing 283 pounds to my current 140-150 lb range. Lost the majority of the weight the 1st two years. Pretty much always done some variant of IF (16-20 hours a day of not eating) because it feels totally natural and comfortable for me. Started "Primal" at 39, now 47.

Almost 8 years later, the weight is still off but I am skinny fat. Dropped carbs to under 50g a day about a month and a half ago and am making some progress. I did try medical ketosis for about a month, did not have the "carb flu", but felt uncomfortably "wired" every day. Came to the conclusion that as long as carbs are lowish, my body will burn fat. It can either come from what I eat or it can come from my body reserves. So protein 1st, healthy fats 2nd, and carbs in last place.

My rambling point is that Mark's carb curve and way of communicating the "Primal" diet are root reasons why I went from a lifetime of morbid obesity to a sustainable, healthy weight and much improved life.

So YEAH for the carb curve! I will probably always think it is the  foundation for healthy eating.

(Runs for cover...Not trying to start carb wars like was on the other forum a few years ago.)

Addon: Keto is a new meme nowadays and maybe mark is just re-branding for marketing purposes???

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Post by Annieh on Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:54 am

jackmormon wrote:
My opinion only is that Mark's carb curve is 100% spot on for me. ...

So protein 1st, healthy fats 2nd, and carbs in last place.


I can totally relate to these points. When I forget about the carb curve, result = insidious weight gain. When I just overeat on primal, I still can feel pretty good but if those carbs are grains etc then also moodiness, aches, sluggishness and general blah feeling.

Instead of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, I think of my strategy as "enough" protein, "not too many" carbs, and "make up the difference with" fats.
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Post by Rig D on Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:45 am

Good points JackMormon, I agree up and down the line. Going Full Keto is something I have no interest in, and certainly don't see any reason why a beginner would go there to start with. Trying the more moderate carbs around 100 seems more reasonable to see if the carb restrictions are beneficial.
Jack, good luck with resolving your skinny fat issue. You have had a humongous and sustained weight loss --congrats on that.
AnnieH: I'm with you on the "enough" strategy.
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Post by ONTARIO on Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:12 am

Rig D wrote:I don't know, and not really interested in the analysis of what happens in your body when you eat fats vs carbs vs protein. I'm only interested in how my body reacts, and how I feel, when I eat according to different food consumption patterns.

For my N=1, my body seems to run much better, less food consumption urges, "cleaner" if you will, when I keep my carbs low. I've been working at it now since 2012, and when I eat carb heavy meals, I will absolutely feel worse, sluggish, unmotivated, brain dim, etc. etc. And I will gain weight. Whether that is carbs being stored, excess water being retained, whatever, it doesn't matter to me, it is extra poundage that I must tote around all day.

Yep! I agree. I don't eat this way because I think the cave men had it goin' on! Smile I eat this way because it makes me FEEL good. It's the same reason I don't eat wheat - it's not because Mark Sisson or Robb Wolf said it was bad but because eating wheat leaves me with undesirable physical symptoms. I see it akin to putting my hand on a hot stove.....I don't do that because I know the outcome is bad and not good for me. I eat this way for the same reasons.

Because I don't eat wheat sometimes I get the naysayers (who need to find fault with my diet) who ask if I have been tested for celiac or if I am "truly" sensitive to wheat. My response is always the same - that I don't need a test to tell me how something makes me FEEL after I eat it. It's just common sense, IMO.

On an entirely different note.....sometimes I even eat white rice. Why? Because it doesn't make me feel bad or leave me with any symptoms.

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Post by ONTARIO on Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:17 am

jackmormon wrote:


My opinion only is that Mark's carb curve is 100% spot on for me. It kind of irritates me that he has back-channeled on this with the Keto thing. I haven't read his Keto book but hopefully he is not urging people to do medically ketogenic diets (<20g carb per day) which I don't think is sustainable for myself or too many other people. Not convinced that eating the keto 80% fat/15% protein/<5% carbs is really healthy or doable over the course of time. (This is from someone who has been dipping in and of ketosis, almost daily for going on 8 years.)

100% agreed. The Keto thing annoys me, as well.


jackmormon wrote:
My rambling point is that Mark's carb curve and way of communicating the "Primal" diet are root reasons why I went from a lifetime of morbid obesity to a sustainable, healthy weight and much improved life.

So YEAH for the carb curve! I will probably always think it is the  foundation for healthy eating.

(Runs for cover...Not trying to start carb wars like was on the other forum a few years ago.)

Addon: Keto is a new meme nowadays and maybe mark is just re-branding for marketing purposes???

I think the carb curve is a very good tool in this modern world of vast amounts of refined carbs found in processed, ready-to-eat meals and fast food. It is good advice in an attempt to right a ship of wide-spread obesity. It's a very simple, easy to follow tool that can work wonders.

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Post by sharperhawk on Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:23 am

So we are all agreed that in most contexts, very little carbohydrate is converted to body fat? My job is done. Very Happy Carry on doing whatever works for you. Just don't buy into the broscience.
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Post by Rig D on Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:55 am

So we are all agreed that in most contexts, very little carbohydrate is converted to body fat? My job is done.
I don't think anyone has discussed your point at all. It doesn't seem to matter to us whether it does or doesn't.
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Post by jackmormon on Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:10 am

My N=1, is that my body will burn carbs preferentially so eating a bunch of them delays burning body fat. My best luck is with keeping them low (50-100 for slow loss/maintenance or less than 50 for those last pounds which I am still working on!)

I don't know what the scientific explanation is, but keeping carbs under a 100 or so is the sweet spot for weight, mental clarify, and overall well being. Maybe I am imagining this, but don't see any reason to change.

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Post by sharperhawk on Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:38 am

jackmormon wrote:My N=1, is that my body will burn carbs preferentially so eating a bunch of them delays burning body fat.

Yes, that's true. There is an oxidation hierarchy. Macronutrients with less storage capacity are prioritized for immediate use so that waste is minimized. (Alcohol is higher priority than carbs.) However, anything you eat will be prioritized over your body fat. So if you eat a lot of dietary fat, burning that will take precedence over burning body fat. What matters is how much total energy you take in. If it's less than you burn, then you will dip into stored energy over the course of a whole day. If it's more, you will add to stored energy over the course of a whole day.
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Post by jackmormon on Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:06 pm

sharperhawk wrote:
jackmormon wrote:My N=1, is that my body will burn carbs preferentially so eating a bunch of them delays burning body fat.

Yes, that's true. There is an oxidation hierarchy. Macronutrients with less storage capacity are prioritized for immediate use so that waste is minimized. (Alcohol is higher priority than carbs.) However, anything you eat will be prioritized over your body fat. So if you eat a lot of dietary fat, burning that will take precedence over burning body fat. What matters is how much total energy you take in. If it's less than you burn, then you will dip into stored energy over the course of a whole day. If it's more, you will add to stored energy over the course of a whole day.

This definitely sounds right and is the core reason I don't like the current Keto fad which is to prioritize eating fat. Our bodies will burn fat when we are in a calorie deficit and it can either come from what we eat or our bodies. I prefer to burn my body fat rather than eating a ridiculous amount of it because it is a fad. (If my neighbor tries to share any more of her "fat bombs" with me I will likely gag!)

On carbs, and this is just me, I don't have much self control. It is VERY easy for me to overeat potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, healthy crackers, etc. so I just don't have them very often. Still eat them, just keep it to once a week or so.

On another topic, does anyone else use Cronometer to track things? I just started this a few months ago for the "skinny fat" battle I have and it was really shocking to compare what I thought my calorie intake & macros were versus what they really are according to Cronometer.

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Post by LoonieJ on Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:46 pm

Nothing is "converted" to anything else - that would be alchemy. Even when you are losing fat and gaining muscle, you aren't "turning muscle into fat."

I can't find the story anymore, but a young man (upper 20s) once posted his n=1 story about eating 7,000 calories per day.

When he ate high carb, he gained a substantial amount of weight. When he ate the same calories but low carb, he returned to his original lean weight. Not everyone is going to be able to eat that much, no matter what the macros. And I'm sure there are stories of high-carbers losing weight.

For me, the "magic" of low carb is that it makes me less hungry. As if my body just knows how to eat to keep me at a good weight.
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Post by mudhenny on Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:31 pm


It appears that carbs tend to get burned for fuel or stored as glycogen and that dietary fat tends to get stored as body fat. It is possible for carbs to be converted to fat, but it happens in relatively small amounts. Overeating in general is going to lead to a bigger body, but overeating dietary fat is most likely of the three macros to lead to increasing body fat.

Totally disagree with this! There is quite a bit a literature out now that explains why carbs are more likely to be stored as fat, because they raise blood sugar and stimulate the release of insulin, which is a fat-storage hormone. High fat consumption is not likely to make you fat without the presence of higher carbs (fat does not stimulate insulin release). For more information try some of the following books:
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Why We Get Fat by Taubes (easier to read version of GCBC)
The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz (sp?)
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung
The Art and Science of Low Carb Living by Phinney and Volek

I'm a living example of this. I used to try and diet by eating just a bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, low fat dinner. It never worked and I stayed about 150 lbs. Now I eat A LOT of fat--breakfast is buttered coffee (a la bulletproof), bacon and eggs. Lunch is a stir fry with maybe a tiny bit of rice. Dinner is often a large fatty rib eye, or large hamburger, with vegetables. Plus smoothies and crackers with butter. It's easy to keep my weight down to 140 lbs on this diet and I'm almost never hungry. There is no way I am eating fewer total calories than before!

Recently I went hard core and cut out all dairy, any tiny bit of grain that I was eating, and the pounds just melted off without even trying (now at 135). But I'm not sure I can keep that up.

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Post by sharperhawk on Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:55 am

mudhenny, the linked article is narrowly targeted to the idea of carbohydrate molecules being changed to fat molecules. It is biochemically possible. However, even under extreme conditions of carbohydrate overfeeding, it accounts for a tiny percentage of body fat accumulation. The vast majority of new body fat was from dietary fat being stored as body fat. Insulin does play a role, but the things that go into adipose cells are fat molecules that were eaten more or less in that form, not fat molecules that were converted from carbohydrate molecules. (LoonieJ, the word "converted" is used in the modern sciences. See PubMed.)

Nothing in my post or the linked article says anything about whether you or anyone else is better off eating a low carb diet. For many other reasons, it may be awesome for you. However, the notion that carb molecules are being changed into fat molecules does not pan out in studies that use good measurement.
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