Although “carb-loading” – stocking up on carbs before athletic performance – is a long-standing practice for amateur and professional athlete alike, a new study suggests that consuming a large amount of carbohydrates in a single sitting can cause metabolic disruption.

Researchers from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center found that eating too many carbs in one go leads to the breakdown of powerful antioxidants, a process that gets worse when insulin production increases.

Too many carbs?

Your metabolism has a global effect on your body and the management of its energy needs. It is crucial that your metabolism should function optimally if you want to function optimally.

Studies have already linked obesity to a decreased metabolism, and the association of obesity with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance also shows that the consumption of carbs is a factor in metabolic dysregulation.

Although research has revealed the effects of sugar intake on the body’s metabolism over time, until now no studies have addressed how large quantities of carbs affect overall metabolism if consumed at once.

“When we treat people with type 2 diabetes, the focus is often on lowering blood sugar rather than preventing carbohydrate overfeeding, which is very common in our society,” says Nawfal Istfan, MD, Ph.D., of the Brigham’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, in a university release.

“But our study shows that if overfeeding isn’t controlled, some of the traditional ways of treating diabetes, like giving patients more insulin to lower blood sugar, can potentially be more harmful.”

Scientists put 24 women into two study groups. One group had a healthy body mass index (BMI) and one group had a high BMI in the overweight to obese range. None of these women had diabetes.

All participants ate a large serving of carbs in one sitting. Some individuals ate more than 350g, or three-quarters of a pound worth of carbs.

After analyzing blood and fat samples, researchers discovered that the antioxidant glutathione was being stripped of its electrons.

Those with a higher BMI were more prone to this process. Researchers believe this is because cells were taking electrons from the glutathione in order to fuel the process of fat conversion from carbs.

The fat samples from overweight participants also revealed decreased metabolic function compared to those with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Since insulin increases the absorption of carbs by cells, it amplifies the effects of metabolic dysfunction, because the cells are ill-equipped to deal with so many carbs.

Having diabetes reduces testosterone as much as gaining 20lbs of fat

diabetes 2

Obesity is one of the main causes of hypogonadism – low testosterone – in men. Obesity is also a leading cause of diabetes, and so we might expect there to be some kind of link between diabetes and low testosterone as well. 

More than 34 million Americans have diabetes, with 90 to 95% of them having type 2. Although type 2 most commonly develops in people aged over 45, increasing number of teens and even children are developing the disease as a result of unhealthy lifestyles.

The disease develops as a result of insulin resistance, when the cells of the body become resistant to the hormone insulin, which is involved in regulating blood sugar levels. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

In 2010, researchers at the University of Buffalo showed not only that obese men were more likely to have hypogonadism, but that obese men with diabetes were even more likely to have the condition. The researchers showed that clear correlation between BMI increases and decreases in testosterone.

“The effect of diabetes on lowering testosterone levels was similar to that of a weight gain of approximately 20 pounds,” said lead author Dr. Sandeep Dhindsa.


“The methodology we used in this study could be used in the future to explore individuals’ predispositions to weight gain,” Istfan says. “There are real differences between patients’ metabolisms, which is something that has been ignored in medicine. Metabolic overfeeding varies between patients, and we need to understand this so we can give more appropriate dietary advice.”

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