Monday, February 1, 2010

Glyceroneogenesis and Weight Loss

Huh? Lol.

Here was my response to questions posed to me on my fan page in face book.

The Question;

Yesterday, JayCee mentionned something about a mechanism where your body can accumulate or at least not lose fat because of dietary protein intake. I've heard about diabetics having to restrict carbs and protein. If someone is experiencing a weight loss stall while keeping the carbs very low, they should eat less meat/protein, not less fat.

How many grams of protein do you think is too much?

Do you have to use a glucometer to know? Are milk proteins worse than other proteins?

I've heard cheese is insulinogenic. I don't really know what that means practically. Does it mean we should avoid cheese for weight loss purposes?

My response:

Alrighty, finally read through the link as posted by JayCee. Very interesting read. Now I must state at the outset I had never come across the term Glyceroneogenesis, so the article was helpful in defining that term.

Yes, glycerol is the backbone of the triglyceride molecule and once released from the 3, what are referred to as acyl groups (an acyl group is simply one of the fatty acid chains that was attached to glycerol) it (the glycerol molecule) can now be used to make glucose. I knew that glycerol was not created from glucose, but yes, other biomolecules such as amino acids can produce glycerol.

Now let me get to some very insightful questions. Let me just also add that I am absolutely astounded at the depth of biochemical questions coming from non medical people. WOW. I wish the doctors would start asking questions as thought provoking as these are.

Ok, with a weight loss stall one definitely has to lower protein intake. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Amino acids can be either glucogenic, that is, they can be used to make glucose; or ketogenic, and they can be used to make ketone bodies. When an amino acid is used to make a glucose molecule that process is referred to as gluconeogenesis. That was what I thought JayCee meant when I originally read the word glyceroneogenesis.

Now I knew all about glycerol production and degradation, I just never knew they developed a term to define it. So just like gluconeogenesis literally translated means the production of new glucose; the term glyceroneogenesis would refer to the production of new glycerol molecules.

Ok, so back to protein. Yes, one can definitely over consume protein, allowing the glucogenic amino acids to be converted to glucose, this can cause a sugar rise, subsequent release of insulin and that is what is causing your weight loss stall or possibly weight gain. Yes, you can use a glucometer to see if you are consuming too much protein, good call. I’ll often tell my diabetic patients, or my patients trying to loose weight, that if they are consuming low carbs and their sugars are still elevated, or if they cannot loose weight, to back off of their protein intake.

Click on the link to see the glucogenic (and ketogenic) amino acids;

Now, here’s where we have to be careful. Let us not forget about that glycerol molecule which formed the backbone of triglycerides. Glycerol can also be converted to glucose, so theoretically on could eat too much fat, create too much sugar, and now your problems start all over again. JayCee’s link was correct in stating that protein consumption, like carbohydrates, can cause a release of insulin at the level of the pancreas. Fat does not tend to do this.

Your next question asked was/is milk protein worse than other proteins. About 80% of the protein found in milk is casein. Now milk is an interesting topic because we humans are the only species that consume milk beyond our infancy; and also the only species that consumes other species milk. In nature, you do not see a calf suckling on a deer teat, or a pig suckling on a cow teat, well, you get my point I’m sure. I have a problem with milk in general because as an adult, we probably shouldn’t be consuming milk in the first place. Many people have milk allergies and this is due to the casein found in milk. Another problem is that some studies have suggested a link between milk proteins and autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes. I generally tell my patients to avoid milk.

Cheese being insulinogenic? Dunno. Of course we get cheese from milk, which is where the whey protein comes in, and whey is often touted as being a highly absorbed protein, but how would it be insulinogenic. Well, I know some cheeses do have some glucose, also it’s that whole glucogenic amino acid thing all over again; maybe that’s what’s happening. I’ll have to do a little more research on that one.

No, I generally don’t tell my patients to avoid cheese.

Hope that helps and thanks for the great questions!

dr jim

Click here to watch my Ultimate Wellness! shows.


  1. Hi, Dr. Jim! This link-- --seems to offer some insight on how cheese can be insulinogenic. What's your opinion?

  2. In cheesemaking, the casein and whey separate out (curds and whey). The liquid whey is discarded (or used for another purpose), so cheese is mostly casein. However, in aged cheese, cultures are added and the cheese is fermented, which breaks down casein and improves digestibility.

  3. Hi stargazey

    I'll check out the link and let ya know what I think.

    Thanks anna for that info :-) I would think the whey is used to create the protein supplements currently on the market.

  4. Stargazey

    Checked out that link, thanks. Found nothing wrong from a biochemical perspective with what Dr. Harris was saying. I'm going to go back and check out more of his site. Thanks again!

  5. Hi, Dr Jim, I am not a hugh fam of meat so when I started low carb in January I really struggled. I added protien shakes last week to up my protien intake 122 grams a day , and wow I am losing weight. My question is which is better for you whey protien which I am using or should I be using a soy protien . Is 122 grams of protien a day a good amount or do I need to adjust this also.
    Thanks for all the great advice

  6. Christine, if you ever come back here, avoid the soy. Whey is far more digestible and isn't going to mess up your thyroid, potentially.

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