Gluconeogenesis is the conversion of protein to sugar for energy. Not just dietary proteins… muscle is made of protein, too, ya know!
This conversion occurs as a stress reaction. When in a state of stress (dietary – low carb, exercise – too much, mental – #life, sleep – not enough/irregular, etc.) the body burns through sugar like there’s no tomorrow (because it wants to survive so there can be a tomorrow). This can cause the body to become hypoglycemic and, because all of the sugar supplies are depleted, other sources of energy must be tapped into. Adrenaline and Cortisol are two stress hormones that “kick-in” to run the body while reserves are being put into place. Those reserves are found through the conversion of proteins to sugars (Gluconeogenesis!). The body wants to run on sugar. It NEEDS to run on sugar because sugar is the body’s most useful and quickest-acting form of energy. Unfortunately, if there isn’t enough dietary protein then the body can turn to muscle for energy. The body will store (or spare) fat in a stressful state to stay alive – fat is a form of protection. The body should not run on fat – it’s very a rare occasion and it’s a very inefficient way for the body to convert energy (this process is known as Ketogenesis).
The body mainly stores dietary sugar in the liver and muscles. Once digested, converted, and stored, the sugars are known as Glycogen. Ideally, glycogen can be stored for about four to six weeks. When many low-carb diets begin they experience a quick rush of weight loss, of getting cut/lean, boosted energy levels, and are shaving inches off of their waist! Yes, this can all happen, but by no means is it healthy or long-lasting. Muscle weighs more than fat, remember? Sugar is the body’s primary form of energy, remember? The body will burn muscle and store/spare fat, remember? Once that four-to-six-week mark hits people can plateau, burn through muscle, put on weight, their brains can become foggy (because the brain uses sugar, too!), their libido/sex-drive can become extinct, and their muscles can become “cut” (but really they’re just being eaten alive).
For those who carve Low-Carb diets in stone, be aware that most dietary proteins are being converted into sugars and are not being used the way nature (or you) intends. Not to mention that Glucagon is constantly secreted to make up for the lack of dietary carbohydrates (the primary mechanism for protein to enter cells is by way of carbohydrate transport and Glucagon increases blood sugar levels by pulling from reserves). On the other hand, low-carb diets are a much better alternative to all of the commercial carbohydrate crap that’s available today in grocery stores and restaurants (bread, pasta, grains, etc.). Rather than attributing success to a healthy diet, first consider the massive amount of unhealthy foods that have been eliminated. Oh, and we can’t forget that intestinal bacteria thrives off of sugar and when there isn’t enough food for them to consume they search elsewhere (hence, chronic bacterial infections, sinus infections, thrush, intestinal inflammation, bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements, etc.)
Perspective? EAT MORE SUGAR a.k.a. good, clean, organic, nutrient-dense, natural carbohydrates – potatoes, fruit, OJ, milk, cane sugar, and even SODA. If you have blood-sugar handling issues and that’s the reason that you low-carb then consider the issues as a symptom to a greater cause – replacing an issue with a new issue just adds more problems, confusion, and sadness to “Why can’t I be normal?!.” Perspective to blood-sugar-issue people… EAT MORE SUGAR.
Yes, it’s possibly to live a healthy lifestyle sans carbohydrates, but how is “healthy” truly defined? More power to feeling good, being happy, sleeping well, having great bowel movements, having a high sex-drive, a full head of hair, and being resilient to stress, but how are those achieved by each individual? What are the habits, mechanisms, and double-checks that confirm “healthy”? Suggestion? Lab Tests such as Thyroid, Hormones, Mineral, Vitamins, and Stool can provide a great perspective.