Metabolism basics

Carbohydrate metabolism

Carbohydrates, the fast energy – The carbohydrate metabolism

The most effective and fastest available source of energy in our body is carbohydrates. It is not so much the energy yield as the speed with which our body can transform these relatively simple molecules into energy.

But the yield can be seen. After all, we can not do it with any other kind of food, neither fats nor proteins, to gain more energy per volume of oxygen.

On the way of food from an oral cavity to a gut digestion of carbohydrates happens. Unlike other macronutrients, the enzymatic cleavage of carbohydrates begins in the mouth.

During digestion complex carbohydrate molecules such as starch are split by enzymatic cleavage into simpler sugar molecules.
While the simple sugar glucose from the small intestine is absorbed directly into our blood and into the cells, the more complex sugars galactose and fructose have to be converted into glucose before in the liver.

Because only one type of sugar can be taken up in our cells: glucose. If it passes from the blood into the body cells and is used there, we speak of the actual carbohydrate metabolism.

Insulin clears the way

An increased glucose level in the blood triggers the release of the hormone insulin, in German: “Masthormone”. The insulin helps the glucose molecules, as a kind of cell opener, to be absorbed quickly and readily into the body’s cells.

So it “fatten up” the cells. In addition, insulin causes the glucose glycogen to be produced and stored within the muscle and liver cells.

This has two benefits for the body. On the one hand, the energy donor reaches the cells quickly and effectively, and on the other, the glucose content in the blood drops.

Among other things, insulin prevents our organism from being damaged by the high blood sugar level.

About three times the volume of water is bound to these glycogen molecules. This means that through a low carbohydrate diet, we not only empty our body’s glycogen stores, but also lose about three times as much water.

The most effective energy metabolism within the cells is the aerobic metabolism.

In this case, the glucose is completely burned in the presence of oxygen. The final products are water and carbon dioxide, which are excreted primarily through the lungs and kidneys.

Sport forces the body to new tactics – carbohydrate metabolism is changeable

If we exercise endurance sports regularly, the organism therefore builds up its storage reserves in the liver. So it comes that an endurance athlete can save twice the amount of glycogen, so about 300g, in the liver than an average adult.

If we supply the body with more carbohydrates than it needs at the moment, it has the opportunity to convert the surplus into fats and thus store them permanently.

So no energy is lost for him. If we do not provide him with enough nutritional energy in times of need, he gains the much needed energy from the stored body fat with the help of the catabolic metabolism.

Glucagon – The hormones that control carbohydrate metabolism

Another hormone plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism: the glucagon. Glucagon, like insulin, is produced in the pancreas.

Special cells of the pancreas, the Langerhans Islands serve as the manufacturing site of the glucagon. His job is to prevent the blood sugar level from dropping too much.

The pancreas releases the glucagon as soon as the blood sugar drops below a certain level. But even after meals containing predominantly proteins, the gland releases more glucagon.

The peptide hormone glucagon is the component that enables the stored reserves of glucose, ie the glycogen in the muscle cells and the liver, to be quickly reactivated.

Glycogen thus becomes glucose in the carbohydrate metabolism. As a result, glucagon prevents the blood sugar level from falling too much.

Because too low a blood sugar level brings with it some negative consequences for the organism. The low blood sugar level can manifest as headache, dizziness, weakness, and even fainting.

So it’s important that the concentration of sugar stays at a steady level as much as possible.

If we supply the body with more carbohydrates than it needs at the moment, it has the opportunity to convert the surplus into fats and thus store them permanently.

So no energy is lost for him. If we do not provide him with enough nutritional energy in times of need, he gains the much needed energy from the stored body fat with the help of the catabolic metabolism.

Those who consume too much carbohydrates can, for example, Carbohydrate blocker to eat. They are intended to reduce the calorie intake from the diet. Their effect, however, is controversial. However, there are usually no negative side effects.

Maria

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