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Blood sugar, energy, and Paleo: Where does the energy come from?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 20, 2013 at 5:12 PM

If I may summarize the Paleo recommendation, we are to minimize direct sugar, including eating sweet fruits sparingly, eliminate things that directly convert to sugar (white flour, its concoctions, etc.), and eliminate polysaccharides that normally convert to sugar.

In the popular usage "low blood sugar" is used to speak of a crash, not a normally energetic state, but Paleo would seem both to promote low blood sugar (if I have correctly understood the restrictions above), but is supposed to also promote high, very high, levels of energy.

Where and how does this energy come? My guess would be "from a source other than blood sugar", but what source? If I have misunderstood sugar or Paleo, how do I misunderstand?

And what are the standard Paleo ways to promote more energy?

Thanks,

7947663ae0b5333554fd462635418724

on July 22, 2013
at 12:19 AM

For those people that endorse polysaccharides, which polysaccharide foods are recommended, and how do they fit into the picture? Thanks,

Be803dcde63e3cf5e21cc121097b8158

(529)

on July 21, 2013
at 10:27 AM

Well said. I think it's folly to separate a diet from its climate.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 21, 2013
at 02:29 AM

Also, not all paleo is low-carb. Everyone agrees that you don't want to frequently spike your blood sugar with lots of sugar or fast-digesting carbs (except in certain athletic circumstances). Beyond that, people differ on polysaccharides.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on July 20, 2013
at 09:40 PM

Stable, *lower* blood sugar, and not to push your body's system into overload where it can't effectively handle excess sugar.

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5 Answers

best answer

3
C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 20, 2013
at 10:33 PM

The sugar crash happens when your blood sugar gets high, and your body pumps out too much insulin, thus clearing out the glucose (remember glucose above a certain level in the blood is toxic). With a paleo diet, you have a steady level of glucose in the blood, and because you have less insulin (the fat storage hormone) your body is better able to metabolize fat for energy. Look in the mirror, and you will see even if you are incredibly lean 10's or 100's of thousands of fat calories waiting to be burned. With glucose/glycogen metabolism, even the well trained might have only about 2000 calories of stored energy, and most of that is muscle specific (ex. you can't use glycogen out of your legs to power your arms, brain, or anything else).

3
B9a579a02921868db5098bfa99f8221c

on July 20, 2013
at 10:49 PM

Good question.

Metabolisisng sugar is one way your body can generate energy, but there are other pathways. All linked an influenced by each other and by various hormones throughout the body. Fatty acids circulate in the blood plasma in a similar way to glucose. These fatty acids enter cells and are metabolised for energy as well.these two processes cannot occur at the same time. Glucose metabolism ramps up when blood sugar levels are high. Fatty acid metabolism most other times.

In reality yourr body works bet when it is flexible. Seemlessly getting energy from wherever it needs to depending on your activity levels, what you have eaten, immune system needs, muscle needs, etc. The energy levels people talk about have something to do with this flexibility. You dont really have big slumps when you run out of energy, as your body is already getting it from other pathways.

Hope that helps a bit. It is very very simplified, but should convey the gist.

Peace

2
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 21, 2013
at 02:37 AM

Nowhere does paleo say fruit should be minimized. It depends on climate/season and inherited genes. Right now, in much of the U.S., with temperatures hovering above 90, eating high fat is counterproductive. Humans have eaten according to the seasons for millennia. I played 80 minutes of soccer today, I must have lost at least a few grams of potassium, how do I get them back with steaks? I had to eat a few lbs of watermelon to rebalance, plus "vegetables" such as tomatoes and summer squash (with burgers, sure) for lunch and dinner.

Be803dcde63e3cf5e21cc121097b8158

(529)

on July 21, 2013
at 10:27 AM

Well said. I think it's folly to separate a diet from its climate.

2
72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on July 21, 2013
at 02:28 AM

As other folks have said, your body can burn fat for most of its energy needs. When you become "fat-adapted," it will do that preferentially and leave its glycogen (stored sugar) for high-exertion activities or to fulfill your brain's small but absolutely crucial glucose requirements. You can also turn protein into glucose (gluconeogenesis), but that's pretty inefficient and not great to rely on, unless you have some reason for wanting to eat a low-carb, extremely high-protein diet. Another alternative is ketosis, in which the liver transforms fat into a form that can fulfill even more of your energy needs, including most (but not all) of the brain's needs.

1
Ab82a728f5c806a644018fe0c60f313c

on July 20, 2013
at 10:17 PM

I found this PDF when I searched "digest protein convert to energy": http://www.foothill.edu/attach/psme/Nguyen.Ch29.pdf

And here is a low-carb website' version: http://www.carbsmart.com/pdigestion.html

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