Tag Archives: Leptin

What About Carbohydrates?

 Let’s take a closer look at carbohydrates to get a better understanding of what they are and how they impact the human body. A carbohydrate is a large biological molecule, or macromolecule, consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) atoms, usually with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water). The carbohydrates (saccharides) are divided into four chemical groups: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. The monosaccharides and disaccharides, which are smaller (lower molecular weight) carbohydrates, are commonly referred to as sugars. While the scientific nomenclature of carbohydrates is complex, the names of the monosaccharides and disaccharides very often end in the suffix -ose. For example, grape sugar is the monosaccharide glucose, cane sugar is the disaccharide sucrose, and milk sugar is the disaccharide lactose. Oligosaccharides contain a small number (typically three to nine simple sugars (monosaccharides) and can have many functions including being one of the components of fiber, found in plants. Polysaccharides contain more than ten monosaccharide units with examples including storage polysaccharides such as starch and glycogen, and structural polysaccharides such as cellulose and chitin.

In food science and in many informal contexts, the term carbohydrate often means any food that is particularly rich in the complex carbohydrate starch (such as cereals, bread, tubers and pasta) or simple carbohydrates, such as sugar (found in candy, jams, and desserts). Carbohydrates are a common source of energy in living organisms.

“Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient way to get everything it needs. Produced by plants through photosynthesis, carbohydrates are made from compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen called sugars or saccharides. Molecules of these simple sugars attach together to make long branching chains called complex carbohydrates. These large carbohydrate molecules are commonly referred to as starch.

When eaten, enzymes disassemble these chains back into the simple sugars. These simple sugars then pass easily through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream for distribution to all the cells in your body. Metabolic processes change these simple sugars into energy.

Dietary fibers are even longer chains of complex carbohydrates – so complex that they don’t get entirely digested. Most fibers eventually end up in the colon and form the bulk of your stool. Many people think fibers are only the husks of grains and the long stringy components in fruits and vegetables, but dietary fibers are present in all plant tissues. Even peeled potatoes, for example, contain lots of fiber.

Carbohydrates are made by plants and stored in their leaves, stems, roots and fruits. Plant foods contain both simple and complex carbohydrates in various amounts. Fruits are often more than 90 percent carbohydrate, but most of their carbohydrates are the sweet-tasting simple forms of carbohydrate, such as glucose and fructose. Green and yellow vegetables store most of their calories as complex carbohydrates, but since they contain very few total calories, the amount of complex carbohydrate they provide in the diet is small. Whole grains (rice and corn), whole grain flours (wheat and rye, as well as whole grain pastas made from them, such as wheat and soba noodles), tubers (potatoes and yams), legumes (beans and peas), and winter squashes (acorn and hubbard) contain large quantities of complex carbohydrates and thus are known as starches. Rice, corn, and other grains, as well as potatoes, typically store about 80 percent of their calories in the form of complex carbohydrates. Beans, peas, and lentils are approximately 70 percent complex carbohydrates.

You’ve probably heard that marathon runners and other endurance athletes “load up” on carbohydrates before an event in order to store energy-providing carbohydrates for the long race. They do this because it works. Loading up on carbohydrates several times a day will give you the energy to race through your busy life.

The only food from animals in which a carbohydrate is found in significant amounts is milk which contains a simple sugar called lactose, but lactose can’t be digested by most adults, and consequently, can cause assorted evidences of indigestion, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and hurtful amounts of gas.

In general, Americans eat far too few calories from carbohydrates – only about 40%. To make things worse, the kinds of carbohydrates eaten most commonly are “empty calories” in the form of white sugar, corn syrup, and fructose. (1)

Protein and mTOR

Proteins are large biological molecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more chains of amino acid residues.

Many proteins are enzymes that catalyze biochemical reactions and are vital to metabolism. Proteins also have structural or mechanical functions, such as actin and myosin in muscle and the proteins in the cytoskeleton, which form a system of scaffolding that maintains cell shape. Other proteins are important in cell signaling, immune responses, cell adhesion, and the cell cycle.

Proteins are also necessary in animals’ diets, since animals cannot synthesize all the amino acids they need and must obtain essential amino acids from food. Through the process of digestion, animals break down ingested protein into free amino acids that are then used in metabolism.
The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, L-tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, and valine. Additionally, cysteine (or sulphur-containing amino acids), tyrosine (or aromatic amino acids), and arginine are required by infants and growing children. Also, the amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, serine and tyrosine are considered conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied to specific populations that do not synthesize them in adequate amounts.

Just as insulin serves as a sort of default sugar sensor and leptin serves as the body’s fat sensor, scientists have recently discovered that the mTOR pathway serves as the body’s protein sensor, monitoring the availability of protein, or amino acids, particularly leucine and methionine, for growth and reproduction. It is also impacted by insulin levels in the body. When protein levels are detected that are higher than basic maintenance requirements, the excess up-regulates the activity of the mTOR pathway, stimulating cellular proliferation and adverse mitochondrial effects, affecting the potential longevity of the individual. Increased insulin also has this effect. What is activated is our reproductive and cell-proliferating capacity.

Recent studies have shown that limiting dietary amino acids, especially methionine, inhibits mTOR signalling, which decreases mitochondrial damage and protein translation, resulting in slowed aging and improved health. Cellular proliferation occurs under three circumstances: reproduction, growth and cancer. The American Association of Cancer Research has stated that modified caloric restriction may offer a protective effect against the development of epithelial cancers.

If the amount of protein consumed stays below the threshold that stimulates cell proliferation, then ancient mechanisms kick in, which evolved to help the body outlive an apparent famine, by shutting down cell proliferation and up regulating repair and regeneration. In this case the body’s energy is conserved through maintaining our own cellular repair instead of producing new cells. This is dependent on ingesting just enough protein to meet the demands of our own repair, regeneration, and maintenance needs, which extend our longevity, optimize our health, and possibly reverse aging, without up-regulating mTOR or stimulating excessive insulin levels.

horizontal-162952_1280The amount of protein needed to avoid upregulating mTOR is estimated to be roughly 0.8 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of ideal body weight. Click the previous link to access an ideal body weight calculator. The ideal body weight is based on age, height and sex. This calculator is designed for adults 18 or older.

For girls from 2 to 20 years of age use This Chart.

For boys from 2 to 20 years of age use This Chart.

Following are some examples of the daily protein requirement based on different ideal body weights:

100 pound ideal body weight (45 kg) x .8 g= 36 g

125 pound ideal body weight (57 kg) x .8 g = 46 g

150 pound ideal body weight (68 kg) x .8 g= 54 g

175 pound ideal body weight (80 kg) x .8 g= 64 g

These amounts are sufficient for the vast majority of adults, while athletes would require a bit more, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 grams per day.

The following foods are sources of incomplete protein but do contribute to the amino acid pool and affect the mTOR pathway:
Nuts (1/4 cup): 5 g
Peanuts (1/4 cup): 9.5 g
Peanut butter (2 tbs): 8 g
Almonds (1/4 cup): 7.5 g
Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup): 6.5 g
Oatmeal (1 cup): 6 g
Black beans (1/4 cup): 4.5 g
Pinto beans (1/4 cup): 3.5 g
Chickpeas (1/4 cup): 4 g
Quinoa (1/2 cup): 4.5 g
Lentils (1/2 cup): 9 g
Tempeh (1/2 cup): 20 g
Brown rice (1/2 cup): 2.5 g
Broccoli (1/2 cup): 2.5-3 g
Spinach (1/2 cup): 2.5 g
Coconut milk (1 cup): 6 g


Primal Body, Primal Mind
Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT


Ideal Weight Calculator

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