The Train is Leaving the Station

A baby train named IT was born this morning. There was a huge celebration, christened with a champagne bottle and everything. IT had been in the manufacturing plant for nine months and now is leaving the station for a long, long journey.

A genius designed this train but he didn’t leave us a blue print. However over time we have figured some stuff out and this is what we know.

This little guy is constructed primarily of protein with some other stuff to hold the parts together. The software is extraordinary, allowing for IT’s parts to be repaired and even replaced while chugging on down the track. IT has an amazing circulating distribution system and there is a brain control center in charge of directing the entire operation.

IT requires energy to keep on “keeping on.” In the interest of efficiency the designer made IT hybrid, using both glucose and fat as alternative fuels. IT takes on fuel and extra protein periodically – on the fly of course because the train never stops moving.

How’s that for a miracle!

IT actually makes a lot of protein all by itself but the extra protein taken on is needed for the complete job. The protein is used regularly because the track is rough, the ups and downs are many. Things keep breaking down and lots of repair/replacement is needed.

The fuel, on the other hand, goes into storage for use as required. After all energy is needed for the repair work and to keep the engine running – pretty much all the time.

The glucose is stored in IT’s engine and along the wheel, right where it is needed the most. There is only about a day’s worth of glucose in storage and there is a reason for that. Glucose is really heavy and storing a ton of it would be very inefficient.

But, boy, will glucose burn fast. So it is reserved for two primary purposes – to keep the engine fully operational at all times (in the body this is the the liver’s job) and for emergencies (the muscles’ job) like when there is a crisis needing immediate attention – like climbing that mountain.

If too much glucose gets delivered occasionally, (hey, mistakes happen) and there isn’t enough room in storage, this really brilliant design just converts that extra glucose into fat to go in the other fuel tank. Blows your mind.

Fat storage

IT stores fat in a special way so it doesn’t weigh much, packing it away in a jillion fat cells all over the train – also right where its needed. And the fat fuel tank is expandable in case the train needs a rainy day supply. So while the glucose storage is finite, fat is infinitely more flexible – at least up to a point. And in fact when the train is operating efficiently IT is running primarily on fat.

The conductor named Insulin

When the fuel arrives on the train or is needed for some purpose a conductor named Insulin tells everybody where to go and what to do. He’s actually a busy guy with a reputation for “trying harder.”

Sooner or later, of course, any train gets to the end of the line. Will IT make it across the country or stop somewhere short? It all depends.

How long will the trip be?

On rare occasion the manufacturing process isn’t quite right and the parts aren’t perfect. Sometimes there is a software glitch. But generally speaking anything that shortens the journey has to do with fuel and fuel storage.

Say the fuel delivery company gets confused and keeps sending too much of BOTH fuels. Glucose storage is very limited but no big deal as long as the extra can be converted to fat and stored away for a rainy day. Great little design trick.

But when the fat storage tank actually reaches capacity desperation efforts are required. Fat then starts storing around the engine and other internal operating parts, not where its supposed to be. Insulin has been trying really hard but it just isn’t enough.

Metabolic challenge

Too much glucose floating around, fat sloshing out of the fuel tank and accumulating in the circulation distribution system, extra insulin all around (unless the conductor wear down and jumps off at the next curve) – all together that combination damages the critical systems and parts that keep the train on the track, gums up the works, and stop providing the actual energy it’s intended to provide.

Dire no doubt but not irreparable. Can you see the straw that broke the camel’s back? Read again. It’s when the fat storage system reaches capacity. Make and keep room in that system and a great deal will normalize. Talk to the fuel delivery guy.

Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. Her website is She can be contacted at, 870-490-1836. Her Facebook page is