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How Your Body Makes New Energy

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

It's called gluconeogenesis --> gluco-glucose, neo-new, gensis-formation of = formation of new glucose! This process forms new glucose (sugar) molecules from three main substrates in the body: lactate, glycerol (fat), and amino acids (proteins).

Glucose itself is actually not an essential nutrient because we can create it from non-carbohydrate substrates if we need to. Now, you could argue if you are deficient in those other substrates, then yes glucose would be essential. Glucose, whether consumed or created, is required for metabolism and critical for brain function. FUN FACTS: During a 24 hour fast, the body can still produce about 80g of glucose per day from biological substrates. This is an important biological mechanism for those on a keto diet, practicing intermittent fasting or just on a restrictive diet in general.

Type 2 diabetics can produce roughly 190g glucose per day solely from substrates, which is why for diabetics, it may be beneficial for them to practice intermittent fasting in order for their body to utilize glucose more efficiently. I would not recommend doing this without the oversight of a physician, dietitian or nutrition professional.

The process of gluconeogenesis is basically the reverse pathway of the original glucose breakdown process called glycolysis.

(yes, I had to know this entire process for grad school, along with a plethora of other metabolic pathways).

think of it this way...

When we ingest carbs. and break it down into its simplest form- glucose, galactose or fructose- it travels down a pathway producing energy (ATP) along the way for the body to use. There's a point in that pathway where the molecule can either be used to make lactate under oxygen-poor conditions (blog post coming all about lactate build up), used to make energy under oxygen-rich conditions, or can be used to make antioxidants and DNA components. They body is so cool right?!

When we do not have enough energy, our body takes lactate, fat and proteins to make new glucose molecules to provide us with energy. So it does that whole glucose metabolic pathway, glycolysis, in reverse to generate a glucose molecule for us to use either as fuel or to maintain our blood sugar.

The forward and reverse pathways are both meticulously regulated and monitored by numerous enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and hormones, notably insulin, glucagon, epinephrine/adrenaline, cortisol, magnesium, folate and thiamine.

Our bodies are constantly striving to keep us energized and fueled all day! So it’s important we are adequately fed with a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats! This will ensure that our hormone production is efficient and that our bodies are functioning properly!

If you're curious to know how much protein, carbohydrates and fat your body needs to stay adequately fueled, reach out for a discovery call or sign up for an assessment on my Coaching Plans page so we can chat about your nutritional goals!

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