In part one of this article, we talked about how eating refined carbohydrates or processed sugars is a lot like putting jet fuel in the gas tank of your Toyota -- it burns up the engine and causes permanent damage. When a human body maintains high levels of blood sugar, permanent damage may also sustained. Here, we'll look at how the body tries to protect itself from the ravaging effects of high blood sugar.
Starting off, recognize that there are serious consequences for having high blood sugar coursing through your veins. Your body knows this, and if your blood sugar reaches unsafe heights, your body immediately goes to work to lower that blood sugar back to normal levels. There are also ways that you can manipulate your own blood sugar levels through activities:
There are really two things that you can do as a human being to lower this blood sugar once it's spiked. First, you can burn it off by using it to contract your muscles -- so if you happen to be running a marathon at the same moment that you drank a soft drink, then the marathon effort will probably counteract the high blood sugar effect of the soft drink.
In fact, high sugar foods are really only appropriate for people who are exercising several hours a day (and who have the metabolism to burn off these sugars). Even myself -- I engage in cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis, often biking 10 miles a day, and even I don't eat the quantities of sugar that our children are eating these days in public schools. In fact, I don't eat any sugar at all, but I eat fruits and other natural forms of complex sugars in order to give me energy for my workouts. But for most people, they're not working out at all, and thus there's really no reason to eat sugars in the first place.
Getting back to the main point here, let's suppose you're not exercising at the moment, you're eating dessert sitting at a table. So the body has to do something else, and this is where the answer to your question really comes into play. In order to remove sugar from your bloodstream, your body has a mechanism by which it can force your muscles cells to open up and accept blood sugar, then to convert that blood sugar to a stored form of energy called glycogen.
The conversion of blood sugar to glycogen, of course, involves the liver, and it is a rather complicated physiological function that I'm not going to explain in detail. The short, simple version is that your muscles (and liver) absorbs this blood sugar and store it for use at a later time. So your body has a sort of gas tank where it can store a certain amount of sugar energy and use it later.
But just like in your Toyota Corolla, your body's gas tank can get full. When it's full, it means you have all the glycogen in your system that you can store. Once your glycogen levels have reached their peak, your body has one more strategy for reducing the blood sugar in your bloodstream.
The second strategy
Before I reveal this, it's important to note that most people walk around 24 hours a day with their glycogen levels already maxed out. Most people never get to a low level of glycogen because they're not on a carbohydrate-controlled diet. Accordingly, the vast majority of people, when they consume refined carbohydrates, are going to be in a physiological state where circulating blood sugar gets quickly converted into stored body fat.
This is the last strategy the body can use to remove blood sugar from the bloodstream. This process also involves the liver, and it essentially converts the sugars into fatty acids, then stores them in the fat cells around your body.
That was a long-winded way to answer your question, but the answer is, yes, sugar can be converted into body fat, but it is not the first strategy that your body uses to lower your blood sugar. If you're exercising, that will help lower blood sugar levels automatically, or if your glycogen levels are low, your body will first try to store glycogen. But again, most people are not exercising, and their glycogen levels are already topped out, so when they consume sugars, they are directly promoting the creation of body fat.
In the third part of this article, we'll talk about how dietary sugars cause adult-onset diabetes, and we'll present strategies for both preventing and reversing diabetes.