It’s amazing how connected so many aspects of health are. You don’t see the connections until you uncover one missing piece. That’s what yielded an exciting new discovery researching the benefits of CO2: carbs are a main way to endogenously produce more of it, increasing oxygen throughout the body. This often a missing component in many diseases including long and acute covid (hence how I came upon the information by “accident”).
Carbs have their own benefits for the metabolism (thyroid), liver, and body overall that seems to have been largely left out from the current nutrition paradigm, including what I learned about blood sugar regulation and obesity over many years in the field.
Fat was heralded as the hero, carbs the villain.
After the low- fat 80’s and 90’s bringing some deleterious results, the pendulum swung the opposite way. It neglected to bring about a greater big picture of every macronutrient having its own benefits.
Carbs supply glucose for energy. You may have heard low carb advocates say that the body can simply create glucose.
This requires the body to rely on fat and muscle stores. However, this can serve as a signal to the body that it’s not adequately nourished. This is the exact system we relied on during famines during our hunter- gatherer history. Stress hormones are what liberate the fat.
Burning fat this way can cause short term weight loss, partially from water, as for every gram of glycogen there are 4 grams of water. This weight loss is at the cost of long- term metabolic health.
Low carb intake has been shown in studies to lower thyroid hormone, reducing metabolic rate and body temperature (R), (R), (R). Fortunately, there’s a more efficient way to turn food and fat stores into energy.
Thus, feeding the body carbs allows it to have a higher baseline temperature. This kind of state signals abundance, fulfilling metabolic processes that might otherwise be skipped during stress, like adequate hair growth and sex hormone production. Ultimately, it allows the body to burn more fat overall along with glucose, because it’s not conserving, so it spends the maximum amount of energy possible on various tasks, even just releasing some of the energy as heat.
When it comes to fat- burning, organs like the heart require mostly fat for energy, so there’s no avoiding it.
Once you signal to the body it will be fed adequate glucose regularly, it will store glycogen. Maintanence of glycogen has shown to optimize thyroid function, blood sugar and insulin sensitivity (R), (R).
Generally, I’ve found it to be important to have at least a ratio of 2:1 grams of carbs: protein to help stay out of the fight or flight state, especially for people with inadequate glycogen stores.
It’s also ideal to get at least 80-100g protein to support blood sugar and things like muscle building and sparing. I like to keep my intake around 19% of my intake, but at least over 15% (most of the time– this is not as a “must do” food rule, rather with my symptoms something I learned to do to feel better). Some ways to get this in can include simply adding whey protein to your morning coffee or other favorite beverages. Other easy sources include casein protein (some digest it better) greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and jerky.
The solution for poor insulin sensitivity isn’t to bypass the physiological process by burning fat as the energy source instead. It’s to better adapt to insulin.
This means eating as our ancestors did in Summer and Spring when there was plenty of food— signaling there’s no famine or emergency. Things like fruits and roots can be particularly helpful for this if you’re trying to better adapt to glucose, sensitize to insulin and build glycogen.
Burning fat stimulates adrenaline in the body. This is a stress hormone which can have harmful effects. Relying on fat might initially feel “good” from running on adrenaline, which stimulates dopamine just like some drugs. Inevitably, this can wear on the body after too much time.
Regular reliance on fat for fuel is also tied to fatty liver. Thyroid (metabolic) hormone conversion requires adequate glycogen in the liver. Adequate carbohydrate consumption is needed to maintain adequate glycogen (R).
You can easily see this for yourself. By increasing carbohydrate intake, you’ll see a rise in morning body temperature.
With an increased body temperature comes better resistance to illness, more energy, better mood, hair growth, regular digestion, better skin and nails, and less stress. This is because when the fight or flight hormone stops being relied on, the body feels safe and spends energy to heal.
I’m a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP). If you’d like personalized health guidance tailored to your unique needs and get to the root cause of your symptoms without deprivation, you can arrange a consultation with me here.