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University of Illinois Extension

Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats all Contain Calories

To understand and manage diabetes well, you must know what happens to food when you eat. Food is made of

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all contain calories, and can all be used for energy. Carbohydrates are mostly in foods in the starchy foods groups, but also in vegetables, fruits, dairy foods, and sugars. The primary sources of protein are meats and dairy products. Fat can be found in dairy and meats. Fat can also be added to food, such as salad dressing or margarine. Fat can also be added when food is made, such as chips, cookies, or pizza.

Too many calories can cause weight gain. Weight gain usually also results in higher blood glucose levels because the body becomes less sensitive to insulin.

Vitamins, minerals, and water do not contain calories, cannot be used for energy, and do not affect blood glucose.

digestion

How does food turn into glucose?

When we eat, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are digested and broken into smaller parts. Once broken down, these parts will affect blood glucose differently depending on how they are absorbed and how the body uses them.

Almost all the carbohydrate eaten will be converted into glucose in the body. The only carbohydrates not changed to glucose are those that cannot be digested, like fiber.

Protein and fat are not directly converted to glucose when digested. The effect on blood glucose is not as direct as eating carbohydrate. Eating too much protein and fat can lead to eating too many calories. Too many calories can make the cell insensitive to insulin. If the cell is insensitive to insulin, blood glucose can rise. So the amount of food that’s eaten can affect blood glucose – too much can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and higher blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates affect blood glucose, because carbohydrates are digested and broken into smaller parts that are primarily glucose units.


This site was last updated June, 2014.
This is a source of information only, and is not medical advice.