Carbs or Fats: Which is Worse?

Carbs or Fats: Which is Worse?I recently received an email from a reader of Diabetes: the Real Cause & The Right Cure, who had a question regarding carbs and fats. I wanted to share this information with you here. If you or a loved one has a question, feel free to join me on Facebook or email me at

Question: I am concerned about eating too much fat and protein if I do not eat grains. I am also confused about whether I am trying to burn off fat or lower my blood sugar by not eating grains. I can find no help from endocrinologists about this and dietitians/nutritionists have all said drop grains and sugar, to increase veggies and good fats, and to keep protein intake moderate. Can you explain all this to me?

Answer: The human body can use glucose or fatty acids to generate energy in your cells. Which fuel is used at any given moment is based on what is available to cells. The only influence you have over what your body burns is deciding how much you eat. If you want to reverse high blood sugar and diabetes, you need to focus on reducing your carbohydrate intake, especially grains. This will eventually help your body return to burning glucose. Avoiding grains and eating very little of it will also help your body begin burning away some of the fat stored in your fat cells. Here’s why.

Glucose is obtained from a wide variety of foods, especially grains, but also vegetables and dairy. When you eat bread, pizza, cakes, muffins, pies, chips, pretzels, taco shells, tortillas, rice, corn, and hundreds of other products made with grain flours, you are effectively eating millions of molecules of glucose. Every cell keeps some of that glucose in store in the form of glycogen that is essentially a complex carbohydrate similar to starch. The liver also stores glycogen, but only 120 grams at any given time, to be released back into the blood to maintain circulating blood sugar level. But when cellular and liver glycogen stores are filled, any excess glucose you consume in carbohydrates is stored as fat, also called triglyceride. Each pound of fat contains 3500 calories, and this is energy to be used at a later time.

The problem is that if you overeat often, over long periods of time, you never give your cells a chance to utilize all the energy stored in your fat cells. In addition, at some point, you will fill your fat cells, and the liver will convert more excess glucose into small fatty acid compounds. This causes your muscles to begin burning all those fatty acid compounds already in your bloodstream that were intended to be stored in your fat cells. As a result, excess glucose, whether absorbed from your food or released from your liver, remain in your bloodstream, thus high blood sugar.

So, how much carbohydrate should you eat? As a general rule, a healthy person can think of the answer to this question in this way: the quantity of carbohydrate consumed during a meal should be no more than what you need to replenish the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles, unless you are exercising immediately after a meal. Any excess carbohydrate that remains in the body is what your liver converts into triglycerides that get stored in your fat cells. This means that if you tend to be sedentary, you don’t need many complex carbohydrates, or you will indeed gain weight.

If you avoid eating grains, however, it doesn’t mean you should consume huge amounts of protein.  The reason is that the liver can produce glucose from amino acids derived from the proteins in meat and dairy, and so you can end up in the same situation as someone who eats a lot of grain-based carbohydrates.

As for fats, the former recommendation to avoid fats now appears to be based on false science. Some amount of fat is ok to eat. For example, the indigenous Inuit people of Northern Canada and Alaska can live for long periods based on a diet that contains a lot of seafood. They receive about 50% of their calories from fat, which provides extensive amounts of acetyl coenzyme A, used as fuel in their cells. Thus, nature has protected those like the Inuit who live in climates where they have little grain- or vegetable-based carbohydrate available to them to produce fuel for their cells. They maintain normal blood sugar levels as their liver produces fuel as necessary.

No one can give you a specific recommendation on quantity of carbs, protein, or fat to eat. But if you get in touch with your authentic weight (the weight at which your brain tells you that you are the most comfortable), you will sense how much you need to reduce your intake to lose weight and maintain it.

You can read further information on reversing diabetes, if you are already diagnosed, in my book Diabetes: The Real Cause and the Right Cure. If you want to know more about the natural basis of food intake and regulation of it, read my book Eat Chew Live.

Dr John on DiabetesDiabetes: The Real Cause & The Right Cure. 
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