Mastering Nutrition

Hi, I'm Chris Masterjohn and I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. I am an entrepreneur in all things fitness, health, and nutrition. In this show I combine my scientific expertise with my out-of-the-box thinking to translate complex science into new, practical ideas that you can use to help yourself on your journey to vibrant health. This show will allow you to master the science of nutrition and apply it to your own life like a pro.
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Jul 22, 2017

Do carbs and insulin make you fat?

The argument centers on the ability of insulin to promote the conversion of carbohydrate to fat and lock fat in adipose tissue, as well as the necessity of glucose to provide the backbone to fat molecules within adipose tissue. But the argument ignores that all of these pathways are fundamentally regulated at a biochemical level by how much energy you need and how much you have. In episode 44 of Mastering Nutrition, we take a deep dive into the details of the biochemistry and see how insulin serves as a gauge of whole-body energy and glucose availability but simply can't be the thing that makes you fat.

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Show notes for this episode are found at

In this episode, you'll find all of the following and more:

00:45 Cliff Notes

10:15 The biochemistry and physiology of the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis of obesity: insulin stimulates de novo lipogenesis (fatty acid synthesis), promoting the conversion of carbohydrate to fat; insulin stimulates lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and inhibits hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) at adipose tissue, locking fat into fat cells; since adipose tissue lacks glycerol kinase, it cannot reuse the glycerol backbone of fats digested by lipoprotein lipase, and dietary carbohydrate is needed to provide the glycerol 3-phosphate that forms the backbone of newly resynthesized triglycerides.

16:30 All biochemical pathways are regulated by cellular energy status. Key players are ATP, ADP, AMP, AMP kinase (AMPK), NADH/NAD+, FADH2/FAD, Ca2+, CoA and acyl CoAs, and citrate.

30:42 Although insulin promote storage of fat in fat tissue, this can be overridden by low energy status.

40:10 Although insulin promotes fat storage, it causes a proportionate increase glucose oxidation, so no net change in caloric balance.

46:10 Glucose oxidation in muscle is driven by energy status and that determines the availability of glucose to adipose tissue.

01:00:45 Glucose can act as the source of glycerol 3-P for adipose tissue triglyceride synthesis, but it isn’t necessary because of gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis. Furthermore, while it can serve this role, the degree to which it does so is driven by energy status.

01:05:50 Glucose can act as a source of glycerol 3-P for adipose, but it needs a source of fatty acids, which come mainly from fat as long as energy status is high enough.

01:06:50 Insulin can drive de novo lipogenesis, but only when energy status is high enough.

01:20:05 What happens when we eat carbs alone, fat alone, or both in the context of low and high energy status.

01:32:20 The path to weight loss is the path to a sustainable caloric deficit.