Can The Body Turn Fat Into Sugar?

Perhaps you’re wondering what will happen to your energy levels if you have a later breakfast, miss a meal or reduce your sugar intake. Perhaps you’re concerned that you will crash and burn by the afternoon if you don’t carb up for the day with that extra slice of toast or even those delicious biscuits in the staffroom (teachers and nurses, yes you, we understand!).

You may be pleased (or dissapointed if you’re an afternoon Tim-Tam lover) to hear that the body has built in mechanisms for energy creation times of lower food supply. One of these pathways is called gluconeogenisis (creation of new blood sugar) and can become more efficient with use. So yes, the body can indeed turn fat into sugar – ‘blood sugar!’

Gluconeogenesis (gluco-neo-gen-esis) is a metabolic pathway in which the body creates glucose (blood sugar) from non-carbohydrate sources, such as amino acids (from protein) and glycerol (from fats).

This process occurs mainly in the liver and to a lesser extent in the kidneys when the body needs glucose, but when there is an insufficient supply from dietary carbohydrates or stored glycogen (long chain glucose) to meet its energy demands. Glucose is a crucial fuel for the brain and certain other tissues that rely on it as their primary energy source.

During periods of fasting (hours between meals), low carbohydrate intake, or intense exercise, the body may rely on gluconeogenesis to maintain blood glucose levels and provide energy to essential organs. This process helps to ensure that glucose is available for the body’s needs even when carbohydrate intake is limited.

Regarding everyday fat loss, gluconeogenesis can play a role in certain dietary strategies. When carbohydrate intake is lower, the body primarily relies on fats as its main energy source. Gluconeogenesis turns fat into glucose to fuel the brain and other organs, since glucose cannot be derived from the limited carbohydrate intake.

It’s important to note that while gluconeogenesis is a natural process, extreme restriction of carbohydrates may be too much too soon for those of us reliant on that energy pathway. Carbohydrates indirectly influence serotonin production (a ‘feel good’ hormone), meaning a drastic drop in their consumption could potentially lead to changes in mood. Also, ‘no-carb’ diets may be challenging to sustain whilst meeting vitamin and mineral requirements, because carbs are found to some extent in fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

Nevertheless, there may be a case for reducing your carbohydrate intake somewhat. For beginners, this may involve curbing the alcohol and takeaway (sorry friends!). For others, it may involve recording your intake and aiming for a set target.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. At Destiny Health, we offer a free online assessment with a Dietician, who can take you through a range of options.

If you’re a busy professional, looking for the edge in your energy, performance, and fitness, why not speak to one of our friendly coaches today?

It’s Destiny Health, where “Goals Make Destiny.”