RD&T contributing author, Marlene Watson-Tara, shares part three of her Macro Vegan Program: Fat-Burning Simplified.
The Role of Insulin
When you eat a big meal that is loaded with simple carbohydrates (simple sugars, pasta, white rice, bread, or potatoes), it sends your blood sugar soaring. The body immediately releases a hormone called insulin. It is the job of insulin to move the sugar out of the bloodstream since excessive blood sugar can do serious damage.
Insulin escorts sugar into muscle cells to be used as energy. Muscle cells can only use so much energy at once. When they don’t require more energy, the sugar gets “stored” in the cells instead of being utilized. This is why insulin is sometimes called the “fat-storing hormone.”
Insulin doesn’t work alone. It has the help of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is the “fat-storing enzyme.” LPL takes triglycerides (fats) from the bloodstream, divides them into smaller parts called fatty acids, and then promptly helps to store them in your fat cells.
If insulin remains in your bloodstream, it eﬀectively locks the doors to your fat cells. If these doors can’t open, you won’t be able to burn the fat stored inside. Once your insulin levels come back down, the doors will open. Of course, if you continue to eat a high refined-carbohydrate diet, the longer insulin will stay active in your bloodstream, the more fat will store, and the less you will be able to burn.
It is important to know that unrefined or complex carbohydrates such as whole grains do not release insulin in the same way.