• Original Articles By Dr. Lavin Featuring Expert Advice & Information about Pediatric Health Issues that you Care the Most About

    Food: How Fats, Sugars, and Proteins Go to Work – Implications for Avoiding Obesity

    “First we eat, then we do everything else.” -M.F.K. Fisher 

    So much has been written about food, many of us no longer feel any natural fun in one of life’s truly great pleasures.

    The medical profession is largely to blame for this sorry state of food.   Today fat is bad for you, tomorrow its sugar, and everyday toxins such as mercury, arsenic, pesticides, and plasticizers haunt our food making eating more of an obstacle course than a joy.

    So I thought it might be helpful to go back to a few basics, really basics, and then end with some discussion of how energy flows in and out of the body.  All towards an effort to look past the myriad fads and piles of advice flying around about food.

    The Problem with Being an Animal – or really anything alive but a plant

    Plants can do something no animal, or really any other kind of life can do, including all true bacteria and viruses.

    Plants can make their own food, they don’t have to eat.  With one exception, they can make all the fats, proteins, and sugars they need to live on from air, water, and light.  The only exception is the need for a certain form of nitrogen.

    Most of our air, about 78% of it is nitrogen, but its in a form plants, and we, cannot use, so we all rely on bacteria to change it into forms that look more like ammonia than air.

    But that’s it, if the bacteria in the soil provide the right form of nitrogen only found in soil not in air, plants don’t need to go anywhere or eat anything but this type of nitrogen.

    But not us, if you stopped eating,even if we could breathe all the oxygen and drink all the water we want, every system in the body would fail.

    So every day, all the animals in the world, from jellyfish, to sponge, to fish, to frog, to insect, to reptile, to mammal, and even us, has to wake up and go off in hunt of food, all our lives.  For all of us animals, light and water just cannot create food like they do for plants.

    And what do we eat?  It has to be either a plant that made food out of thin air, or an animal that ate a plant that made food, or that ate an animal that at some point in the food chain ate a plant that made food.

    What is it that Plants Make, and What is it that Animals Need?

    So what are the key parts of what we eat, what’s in food that is so essential to all life?

    There are really three key functions that food provides us, that are indeed essential to life:

    • Energy
    • Structures
    • Key chemistries that make functions function


    If we can understand what these three functions are, then it will be easy to understand what sugar, fat, and protein do.


    Everyone knows what energy is, we certainly feel when it seems we are energized or worn out, but defining it can be a bit tricky.

    In science, energy is the property of something that allows a force to be generated, for work to be done, or for something to get hotter.

    Many of us think of DNA as the original item necessary for life, the root of all life, but more and more, biology points to energy as the true foundation of all life.

    One could make the argument that there is no life unless some system has found a way to concentrate energy well enough to harness it to conduct some sort of work.

    Plants take energy from the sun, which creates it by fusing atoms together leading to thermonuclear explosions.  It is precisely that energy that plants use to create chemicals that can store just that energy to allow all the work of life to happen.

    As you might imagine, it would be a very poor design to have a form of life that can only operate from the energy of light shining on it.   One step into the shade and life stops. If energy only was available when light was shining, there would be no energy available inside the organism where it is dark.

    Finding molecules that can store the sun’s energy allows life to have energy on hand whenever it needs it, the only way life actually lives.

    Across all of life, certainly all animal life, the key chemicals evolution has developed to store energy are sugars and fats.

    So that is one reason why we eat and need sugar and fat- to have energy to run all the body’s functions.


    A bewildering variety of structures are found in every form of life.  These structures create physical realities that allow for life to act and do all its functions.

    Start with the cell, the true basic unit of all life.  Every cell has a tremendous amount of structure.  It has a membrane, without having an inside and an outside, there would be no cells and no life.  Within every cell there are a tremendous variety of structures that allow the cell to live and reproduce.

    In animals those structures include the nuclei that store and help the DNA operate, the mitochondria that generate our energy, the microtubules give an internal shape to the cell, and many others.

    Outside cells there are a wide variety of structures, including bones, pathways for nerves, all the various structures of the organs- heart, kidney, liver, etc.

    Structures are all made up of material we eat, nearly every structure in life is involves the use of proteins, fats, and sugars.

    Proteins are also at the very heart of defining the chemistry that creates every structure in life.

    Key Chemistries that Make Functions Function

    The entire point of having any energy for a cell is to power chemical reactions that are the only way any of the structures of life get created and ever act.

    It turns out nearly every single of the myriad chemical reactions in the body that use the energy we eat and that create the structures that make us alive and human are directed under the extraordinary control of an astounding category of proteins called enzymes. We hear about enzymes all the time, especially in the domains of natural medicines.

    But the world of enzymes is vast, and absolutely essential to all life, every type of it, on Earth.

    All enzymes are proteins, and what makes a protein an enzyme is that it is folded into sculptural shape that allows it to influence how one chemical reaction will go.   The shape of the protein allows the actors in the drama of that chemical reaction to be held in a certain orientation that makes them connect and react more easily, and we are talking about dramatically easier. Without the enzyme the chemical reaction may never happen, with it, it happens.

    So all life depends on the creation of each enzyme to determine if a chemical reaction will happen, and happen easily.

    This means nearly every function of life can be managed by how and when the organism makes which enzyme.  Since every enzyme is a protein, this is the third reason we eat, to make sure we have enough material to make the amazing set of proteins called enzymes.

    Sugar, Fat, Protein- What are They?

    We know what they look like and taste like, but really what are they?

    All these basic elements of life are molecules that are made up of a very small set of atoms:

    carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, with an occasional sulfur atom.  That’s about it.  About 4 types of atoms, sometimes 5, combine to create all the sugars, fats, and proteins that make up all of life.

    What is a Sugar?

    We all know what sugar is, it is sweet.

    We think it is sweet because it is a tremendous source of energy.  If a fireplace burns wood, a body burns sugar.  If fireplaces got hungry, they would think wood tasted great.  We do get hungry, and the energy sugars give us make us deeply attracted to eating them.

    Like gasoline, sugar is a string of carbon atoms.  Gasoline is a straight chain of 8 carbon atoms, that’s why it’s called octane, just like eight notes of music is an octave.

    Chains of carbon atoms turn out to burn really well, just ask any car.  They burn so well, they can explode if lit.

    Sugar is the same.  In fact, in 2008 a massive explosion killed 14 people at a sugar plant, when the sugar dust there ignited.  So sugar really is like gasoline.

    The carbon atoms in any sugar typically are arranged in a ring of 5 or 6 atoms.  A ring of 6 carbon atoms of course forms a hexagon shaped ring, and of 5 carbon atoms a pentagon ring.  Various combinations of hydrogen and oxygen attached to the carbon atom rings complete the assembly of the powerhouse molecule we call sugar.

    A common rule in naming sugars has all their names ending in –ose.  For example glucose, fructose, sucrose.

    Glucose is the most common 6 carbon ring sugar.  Galactose is also a 6 ring sugar.  Fructose the most common 5 carbon ring sugar.

    These sugars can combine to form two-ring molecules.  Familiar types of two ring sugars include:

    Sucrose, or table sugar- a combo of glucose linked to fructose

    Lactose, the sugar of all breast milks- a combo of glucose linked to galactose.

    If you take a glucose molecule and connect one ring to another, many thousands of time, the resulting mega chain of glucose is called starch.

    The main purpose of sugars in living bodies is simply to be a fuel.  In all of us, most sugar ends up literally being burned, and the resulting release of energy is the source of much of the body’s energy supply.  Sugars also are building blocks of important structures in the body, including DNA and RNA, and many sugar molecules play a role in regulating body chemistries.

    If your body gets more sugar into it than the body needs at the time to burn for energy creation, it is stored.  It can be stored as a highly branched string of glucose molecules, that is called glycogen.  Glycogen allows the body to very rapidly cut those branches to release glucose for ready use at a moment’s notice.  But most of the excess sugar we eat is converted to fat and stored as such.  Glycogen can only be stored in certain parts of the body in a limited amount.  But there is no limit to the amount of fat that can be stored.

    What is fat?

    We all know what fat is, it is fat.

    Fat that is solid at room temperature is called fat, and if liquid at room temperature, oil.

    Fats, like gasoline and sugars, are chains of carbon atoms, and burn very, very well.  Just look at the flames leap when a steak hits a grill over a very hot bed of charcoal coals.   In this example, the idea that carbon burns is dramatically on view above and below the grill.  The charcoals are lumps of pure carbon, see how they burn!  And the fat on the steak is another form of carbon, and see how that burns!

    Fats and sugars share the fact that their backbone is a chain of carbon atoms, with some hydrogen and oxygen atoms attached in specific places.

    Therefore, all the fats and sugars that we most commonly talk about are comprised of just three types of atoms:  mainly carbon, some oxygen, some hydrogen.

    Remember from above that gasoline is simply a chain of eight carbon atoms?  Well, fats are made up of chains of carbon atoms, just like gasoline, except each chain ends with two oxygen atoms and a hydrogen atom.  That’s really the only difference.

    We saw that a sugar can be one ring of carbon atoms, or two rings, or a long string of rings.

    Fats are made up of long chains of carbon atoms, not rings, and these chains are typically joined together.

    The straight chains of carbon atoms in a fat are called fatty acids, because the two oxygen atoms and hydrogen attached at the end of the chain make the molecule acidic.

    If you take three of these chains, of these fatty acids, and take the end of each, and attach that end to a little chain of 3 carbon atoms, one fatty acid attaching to one of the 3 carbon atoms, then that is a fat.

    The little 3 carbon chain is called glycerol.

    The big assembly with each carbon of the little 3-carbon glycerol molecule waving a long chain of carbon atoms (fatty acids) is called a triglyceride, and a triglyceride is the main fat of the human body.

    What is saturated in a saturated fat?   It turns out that if you look at any chain of carbon atoms, each carbon atom is linked to another carbon atom.  Now, a fundamental fact about our friend the carbon atom, is that it likes to be attached to 4 other atoms.  If you are a carbon atom in a chain of carbon atoms, you typically will be attached to one on your left and one on your right, that take care of 2 bonds, and leaves 2 others.  At this point the carbon atom can attach to one or two hydrogen atoms.  If only one, that leaves open the possibility of the carbon atom hugging its neighbor on the chain.

    So, if a chain of carbon atoms connects to as many hydrogen atoms as it can, typically two per carbon atom, we say that chain is saturated with hydrogen atoms.  If a chain has some carbon atoms connected by double bonds, then there are fewer hydrogen atoms on that chain and we say it is unsaturated.

    Of all the molecules in the body, nothing burns like fat.

    One gram of sugar yields 4 calories of energy, but one gram of fat yields 9 calories.  That is more than double the energy from each ounce  of fat than one ounce of sugar.  It’s the main reason fat is so yummy!

    Fats, like sugars, create vital structures in the body too, like elements of every membrane of every cell.  But they are tremendous sources of energy.

    Fats are named by the length of those long, linear chains of carbon atoms, the fatty acids.  And fatty acids always end in –ic.   Think of oleic acid, or linoleic acid, for example.

    What is a protein?

    A protein is a very long chain of amino acids.  If all sugars end in -ose, and all fatty acids in -ic, all protein names end in -in.

    Proteins, like sugars and fats, are made up of chains of carbon atoms, and so can be burned.  Like sugar, a gram of protein, when burned, will yield 4 calories of energy.

    But proteins are really the heart of the body’s structures and its brains.  As noted above, enzymes are the molecules that direct the dance of life, that create all its structures, that activate and implement all the actions of DNA.  Proteins are the great signals and source of information in life.

    So, what is a protein and an amino acid?

    An amino acid is a chain of just 1-3 carbon atoms.  That makes an amino acid the smallest chain of carbons amongst fats, sugars, and proteins.  On one end of the little chain is a combo of oxygen and hydrogen, and on the other is an atom of nitrogen.   Along the chain, a side group of various combinations of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and or oxygen atoms is attached.

    By varying whether the carbon chain is 1,2, or 3 carbon atoms long, and what the side group is, you can create a huge number of different amino acids.

    Animal DNA is capable of creating about 22 different amino acids, but once created the body can adapt them further into other varieties.

    Now, here is where it gets very, very interesting.

    Amino acids themselves can be burned as fuel, as any string of carbon atoms can.  We have seen that when we talked about sugar and fats above.

    And, like fats and sugars, amino acids can make long chains of carbon atoms.  In fact, not only can long chains of carbon atoms burn well (again, think of charcoal, coal, and wood), but they can form really interesting structures, think of sculptures. Perhaps the most famous chain of carbon atoms is DNA, which is a very long, twisty ladder, where the two side rails of the ladder are made of the sugar ribose (RNA) or ribose minus an oxygen, deoxy-ribose (DNA).  The point is that when you start creating super long chains of sugars and amino acids, guess what emerges from these structures?  Information.

    In the case of amino acids, if you create a very long string of them, you get a huge molecule called a protein.

    Proteins come in a nearly infinite variety.  Remember, there are about 20 amino acids that DNA codes for in the human body.  Think of each as a letter.  Now, imagine words, each with thousands (not 1-12) letters, thousands.   Take 20 letters, how many different words exist if you make each word 1,000 letters and each letter can be a different one of the 20 letters in any order.   The number of variations rapidly becomes truly astronomical.

    Now, in the case of long chains of amino acids, or proteins, once the chain is set, the chain begins to fold, according the order of the amino acids.

    Let’s talk about one example of a protein just to make clear what we mean, hemoglobin.

    Hemoglobin actually is a very huge molecule made up of 4 long chains of amino acids, or 4 proteins.  In hemoglobin the 4 proteins are two pair of identical proteins.   When the amino acid sequence is just right in each chain, they fold in a way that all 4 chains create a perfectly sculpted pocket in the middle that attracts and holds one atom of iron just right.  Just right so the iron atom can pick up oxygen you breathe and deliver it to your body’s cells all over the body.

    This is a perfect example of what proteins do.  By arranging the thousands of amino acids in chain in the right sequence, a folded structure snaps into shape, that can do very special function for the body just right, leading to the body working.  In this case, allowing our breath to deliver oxygen to every cell in the body.

    There are literally thousands and thousands of different proteins in the body, each, like hemoglobin, have one precise function, necessary for our lives.

    Putting Sugars, Fats, Proteins Together

    If you take an overview of fats, proteins, and sugars together, a few facts jump out:

    • Despite what appears to be major differences between sugar, fat, and protein, they all are, at heart, made up of little chains of carbon atoms.
    • Sugars are usually 5-6 carbon atoms linked together in a ring.  A sugar can then be one ring (fructose, glucose) or two rings (sucrose, lactose), or a massive chain of linked rings (starch which is all sugar, DNA which is partly long, long chains of sugar).
    • Fats are long chains of carbon atoms, where three of such chains are each attached to a 3-chain of carbon atoms.  The three long chains are each called a fatty acid, the 3 carbon backbone is glycerol, and the combination is called a triglyceride.
    • Proteins are made up of amino acids each of which are small 1-4 carbon atoms in a chain, with one side group of carbon atoms attached to that chain.  Link a whole bunch of amino acids together and the huge chain folds into complex shapes, and that assembly is called a protein.
    • Since you can burn any carbon atom not yet burned, the body can burn the carbon in sugar, and fats, and protein all quite well, and it does. Fats pack more energy per pound than sugar or protein.  One gram of sugar when burned yields 4 calories, the same goes for protein.  But fat delivers over double the energy for the same pound of fuel, it yields 9 calories if you burn a gram of it.
    • Sugars, fats, and proteins, all are major building blocks of tissue and bodies, and so participate fully in the creation of the physical organs of all the body, and every cell and its structures.
    • Sugars, by being the backbone of DNA and RNA participate in how information functions in the body.
    • Proteins are the structures that DNA and RNA create to make the information of DNA and RNA come to life.  Again, think of hemoglobin, it is DNA and RNA that decide what order a set of many, many amino acids will be placed in, to create the chains, the proteins we end up calling hemoglobin.  The code for the protein hemoglobin then creates the protein hemoglobin which allows our breath to give us life.
    • But to do all the wonderful things our bodies do, we need energy to run the ship, and the preferred fuels are sugars and fats.  Let’s see how these chains of carbon atoms work to give us fuel.


    Food as Fuel

    Now that you have an intro to what sugars, fats, and protein are, let’s wrap up this primer on food with a few words on what we started this discussion about: fuel and energy.

    The body, really every cell of every living organism, has a very, very precise approach to generating the energy needed to run life.

    At its root, life’s creation of energy is no more complicated than burning a log, the carbon atoms attached to each other in various chains, are broken apart from each other and attached to oxygen, in a word, they are burned.

    Now, in a fireplace, most of that energy literally goes up in smoke.  A flame is released and heat is burst out of the burning log, quite a bit of heat, and unless all that heat boils water, usually all the energy goes up the chimney or out and about the house.  You can burn a cord of wood and not really change the world a whole lot.

    But not the living cell.  The living cell takes every last drop of the same energy released in a fire, but instead of creating flame and heat, it creates a storage chemical called ATP.  It takes lots of energy to make a molecule of ATP, but once its made, that molecule can go anywhere in a cell, anytime, and deliver the bolt of energy we see in a fire, to a very, very specific and precise purpose, say making the heart beat, or the brain think, or the kidneys work, or your muscles move you to do anything you need or want to do.

    This is rather amazing!  Imagine if your fireplace, after burning down 5 big logs delivered about 40 pounds of ATP you could use to drive your car, light your house, run your lawn mower, run your TV and Internet, and charge your phone.

    That is what life does to sugar and fat.  It burns them to create ATP which then is used as the universal source of energy for nearly every function in every cell, organ, tissue, and body.

    This is the energy reason we eat, to provide the sugar and fat required to make the right amount of ATP.

    As noted above we also eat sugars, fats, and proteins to help create the structures and the functions of the body, but when it comes to energy, ATP is the shared end goal. Fortunately for us, ATP is hugely recyclable, we recharge each molecule of ATP a thousand of times a second, so it can be re-used a thousand times a second.  Without that recharge ability, we would need to start every day with 450 pounds of charged ATP, just to run our body, for one day!

    But this does give you an idea of what it takes to run an adult human body for one day, a lot, a lot of fuel.

    Feast and Famine

    If on any give day, you eat exactly the right amount of energy to exactly match what you needs that day to burn, you will end the day just as you started it, no heavier, no thinner.

    If you eat less energy than you will need to burn, your body will burn parts of itself, stores of sugar, fat, and protein, in that order.  If this situation gets extreme, that is famine and it is deadly.

    If you eat more energy than you will need to burn, your body will store the energy, first as sugar, then as fat.  If this situation gets extreme, that is feast, which is far less deadly than famine, but causes about 300,000 deaths in the United States every year.

    The Storage of Extra Fuel

    For most of human history, and still true for nearly all animals in the wild even today, the most pressing crisis was famine, or more acutely, starving. Food has always been in short supply.  To make this challenge even sharper, every animal struggles to have enough fuel on board to do even anything else but pump the body with more fuel, that is, eat.

    Without storage abilities, we would need to eat at all times day and night, and we could never survive a shortage of food.  Imagine a car with no gas tank, it would need to have gasoline flowing into the engine all the time.

    Today, we tend to think of the storage of fuel as a problem, just think of the words obesity and epidemic and you get the idea.  But storage is critical to all other activities of life, including relaxing, talking, sleeping, studying, working, loving.  No storage, and all life is reduced to one long, uninterrupted string of meals.


    We are all familiar with how the fats are stored, they are stored as fat.  That can show up in all sorts of parts of the body.


    Less familiar is the storage of glucose.  If fats are stored as fat, sugars are stored in the form of chains of glucose called glycogen.  Remember that you can take the ring of six carbon atoms called glucose and make one very, very long chain of them, that’s called starch.   Animals can’t store starch very well.  But if you take those same glucose carbon atom rings and make a very branching series of links of them, creating a molecular bush of glucose molecules, that’s glycogen, and all animals, fungi, and even bacteria store away some sugar for a rainy day in the form of glycogen.

    Glycogen is very nice to have around, just clip a glucose molecule off the bushy branches and you have yourself one glucose molecule to burn for fuel right away.

    Glycogen is formed in the liver after you eat a meal or snack that contains items that can be turned into glucose, like starch or honey.  Once loaded up, a liver full of glycogen can have enough glucose on hand to keep the body’s fuel needs met for about 8-12 hours.

    Glycogen is also formed in the muscles, but there it can only provide fuel to the muscle the glycogen is in.

    Other sugars are not stored so well.  Fructose, the other really major sugar in our diet must be turned into a fatty acid before it can be burned or stored.  So if you eat more than 40 pounds of fructose (= 1 Snickers bar a day for a year), the extra fructose is stored as fat, mainly in the liver.


    In contrast to sugars and fats, the carbon atoms in proteins are not typically stored for the purposes of storing fuel for between meals or between famines.

    And so, there are no special deposits of protein in our body sitting there to provide fuel in the future.

    As noted, stored sugars can last up to 12 hours, and in times of high fuel burn rates, like strenuous exercise, for far shorter times, then the fats get burned.  Only once sugar stores get depleted, and fat stores begin to be depleted will the body begin to burn its proteins, typically proteins in muscles.  This is why starvation usually makes muscles shrink.   But in well fed populations such as ours, it is unusual to see muscles consumed to provide fuel.


    We concluded our tour of the key items of food ​– ​sugars, fats, and proteins — ​ with a word on insulin.

    Insulin is a hormone.  It is called insulin because it is made only in tiny clumps of cells inside the pancreas.  These clumps under the microscope look like islands, and so even today the clumps are called the islets of Langerhans after Dr. Langerhans, and the cells, islet cells.  The string of amino acids the beta cells of these islets make is called the protein-like hormone of the islets, or insulin, from the Latin insula meaning island.

    More than any other hormone, insulin is the hormone of storage.

    Think again about the function of eating food associated with fuel.  Once the gasoline (sugar, fat, and protein) is poured into our body as we eat, the body must decide, burn it or store it?

    If insulin is around the decision is made, store it.

    So anything that stimulates insulin production, pushes what you eat into storage.

    This has implications regarding the main nutritional emergency of our era, obesity.  Insulin is a key player in this epidemic.  Clearly eating too much is the true heart of the obesity epidemic.

    But what you eat, can have a tremendous impact on whether insulin is pumped into circulation and forces what you eat into storage.

    Sugar is the top stimulation for insulin production.  Eat a bunch of celery and not much insulin will gush to store fuel, but eat a bag of candy and insulin will indeed gush forth, pushing that candy into glycogen in your liver and fat in your fat.  This is a quick path to obesity.

    Insulin is very relevant to the liver, fat tissues, and muscles, not so much the brain.  The brain actually has a very strong preference to burn one sugar as its fuel, glucose, not other sugars, not fats, not proteins, and if it needs glucose and any is around, it simply takes it in.

    But the muscles and other tissues, need insulin for glucose to enter their cells. So not only is insulin a stimulus to store energy, but it is necessary to get sugar into muscles and fats into fat.

    Are Sugars, Fats, or Proteins Bad For You

    As noted above, the body absolutely needs sugars, fats, and proteins to run, to have energy to run, structures to run its functions, and molecules to direct all its functions.

    So the answer to our nutrition worries is never to eradicate sugar, fat or protein for our food.

    But each of these can cause problems in excess.  Too much sugar causes storage problems, if the sugar is sucrose or fructose, the sugar gets converted to a fat in the liver that gums up liver and insulin function, a true lead in to diabetes.

    Too much fat causes obesity.

    Too much protein can stress the kidneys which are saddled with clearing out the excess.

    Keeping in mind that all sugars, fats, and proteins are varieties of strings and rings of carbon atoms, the body is very adept at taking a string of carbon atoms and fashioning other strings.  So fats and proteins can be reconfigured to create all the sugar we need for fuel, structures and functions.

    There as a few fatty acids and amino acids our body cannot make from other sugars, fats, and proteins, and so these must be eaten, and typically are.

    The bottom line on making sure the body gets the sugars, fats, and proteins it needs is to do the following very simple steps:

    1. Eat plants, eat food, eat less.  The best source of sugars, fats, and proteins are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, period.   Eating foods that come to us from living plants as foods is far superior to food manufactured in a factory.
    2. You know if you are eating too much if you begin to weigh more than your ideal range.



    1. All life eats, except plants the only form of life that can make its own food.
    2.  This review looks at three of the key elements of what we eat, sugars, fats, and proteins.  
    3. Together, they make up the vast majority of the 20,000 pounds or so of food we chew, drink, and swallow in an average lifetime.
    4. Food serves three key functions:  fuel, structures of the body, and chemicals that run the processes of body functions like thinking.
    5. All sugars, fats, and proteins, are ultimately made up of chains of carbon atoms, one linked to the other.  As such, they are all, like gasoline, strings of carbon atoms that can be burned to provide energy to run the machine.  For gasoline the carbon string is a straight line of 8 carbon atoms and runs a car.   For sugars it’s a ring of 5-6 carbon atoms.  For fats, it’s three chains of carbon atoms of varying lengths joined to a spine of a 3 carbon atom chain.  For proteins it’s a set of amino acids (which are 1-3 carbon atoms in a row with another group of carbon atoms attached to the side of that chain)  linked together into long series of amino acids called proteins.
    6.  All sugars, fats, and proteins can be burned to provide fuel for the body.   A gram (about one teaspoon) of sugar, when burned yields 4 calories of energy, same for protein, but the same gram but of fat, yields 9 calories.  That’s why fat is a more dense fuel.
    7. When you eat sugars, fats, or proteins, the body must decide whether to burn it or store it or use it for structures or functions.  Proteins tend to go the route of structures and functions.   Insulin is the master molecule that directs what we eat to be stored, pushing our bodies towards obesity when food is abundant, which in turn taxes insulin and pushes us directly towards diabetes.


    What to do:

    1. Eat plants, eat food, eat less
    2. Know you are eating too much if your weight or child’s weight goes above the ideal range.

    We are available to help, feel free to meet with us if questions on eating arise.

    To your health,
    Dr. Arthur Lavin


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