With obesity topping the charts with nearly 300,000 deaths per year in the United States, it is second only to smoking as the leading cause of preventable death. The main culprits to this disease are processed foods whose primary ingredients are carbohydrates, such as fruit or vegetable juices, salted/seasoned nuts, sweetened yogurts, processed cheese, refined bread, pasta, crackers, chips, cookies, sweets, and sodas. With the grocery aisles filled with a plethora of these choices it is imperative to understand the effect carbohydrates have on our body and how carbohydrates turn into fat, which can increase our health risks associated with obesity.
Carbohydrates are your bodyâ€™s main source of energy while fats are itâ€™s secondary source. The body is inefficient at storing carbohydrates, which is why they are used as the first source. When you eat carbohydrates, they are first digested and broken down into glucose, which your body burns immediately, to transport to all the cells in your body. The excess is then converted to glycogen to be stored in the muscles and liver to be used in between meals.
Your body uses glucose and glycogen from carbohydrates to provide you with energy. Glucose is freely circulating in your blood stream so your body will use that as itâ€™s first resource. When your body runs out of glucose from your blood stream it will begin to break down and metabolize glycogen, stored in the muscles and liver, as itâ€™s secondary source for energy. Your body has blood glucose levels that can maintain cellular processes for three to four hours. If you do not eat within that time frame then your liver will begin to release the glycogen it has stored in order to provide you with a steady source of fuel.
There are two ways your body will convert excess carbohydrates into fat:
#1 If you eat more calories from carbohydrates or other sources per day than you are burning, then your liver will convert the excess calories from carbohydrates into fat.
#2 If you eat too many calories from simple carbohydrates, such as foods containing sucrose (sugar) and fructose (fruits), then your body will convert the excess into triglycerides (fat) to be stored in your liver.
So how long does it take for excess carbohydrates to turn to body fat?
Once a meal is consumed, your body either uses the calories as fuel, or stores the calories in fat cells to be used a later time. Within four to eight hours from the beginning of a meal, your body begins to store consumed calories as fat. The first 1,000 calories or so are automatically stored within the liver and muscles as glycogen. Once the glycogen calories are utilized for energy, your body activates the stored calories within fat cells, known as triglycerides to replenish the depletion of glycogen calories.
So to maintain your weight, be aware of what types of foods you are consuming and try to limit your intake of processed carbs, which will in turn limit the amount of fat your body will store.