Making sure your diet is balanced with protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fats is important, but what happens if we don’t eat enough or too much of these essential foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s go over carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are our body’s primary source for energy. There are simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs are foods with single and double sugar molecules. This includes glucose, fructose and sucrose. Common simple carb foods include milk (also a protein), table sugar, and fruit.
Complex carbs are foods that contain multiple sugar molecules linked together by “starch.” Foods rich in complex carbs include legumes, grains, starchy vegetables like corn/peas, pasta, and bread.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how much blood sugar (fuel) fluctuates based on carbohydrate intake. The higher the GI number, the more blood sugar goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan was made to supply members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, avoiding cravings and eating too much.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Eliminating or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve summarized below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our central fuel source. Not eating enough healthy carbs decreases the body’s fuel source. If you don’t have enough glucose from healthy carbs to burn, the body will begin using fat. Doesn’t sound negative, but for active people, weakness and energy loss will occur quickly and long-term effects could mean reduced performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is important for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet can cause constipation, so it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to be regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been tied to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that makes us feel happy. Limited healthy carbs can mean a decrease in serotonin levels, possibly producing mood changes like anger, sadness, and even mild symptoms of depression.
Hypoglycemia—Not enough carbs can mean low blood sugar, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a natural metabolic action. If you don’t have enough glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is known as ketosis. During this process, your body produces ketones for a fuel source. If you’re consuming a balanced diet, this isn’t an issue and your body becomes accustomed to to your levels. Where ketosis can become problematic is when your body builds up too many ketones from lack of energy, which can lead to dehydration and a chemical imbalance in the blood. Many individuals adopt a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to confirm you’re still getting plenty of what your body requires to perform normally. Learn more about ketosis here.
Too Many Carbs
What could happen to your body if you eat too many unhealthy carbs?
Sugar Crash—We’ve all been through it. The blood sugar roller coaster of eating too many refined carbs and then suddenly crashing and feeling sleepy. Eating carbs high on the glycemic index can cause an increase in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a less rapid pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to manage blood sugar, which causes the crash. Carbs that are complex and dense in fiber will help block the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate effect of consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Eating the right portion size is essential for decreasing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are vital for proper function, they need to be the right size for what is needed. An overabundance of sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sugary soda to your diet each day ups your risk by 15 percent, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health, published in November 2010 in Diabetes Care.
Weight Gain—Eating too many refined carbs or high-glycemic carbs can also cause weight gain, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to a number of additional concerns like stroke, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Eating too many carbs, like any macronutrient, means we have too much in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body keeps the excess as fat.
When devising meals and grocery shopping, make a practice to take a look at the nutrition label. Stay away from foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and stick to water in place of sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the right, balanced nutrition your body needs to work in the best manner and efficiently to be your best in and outside of the gym.
If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not meeting your fitness goals, reach out to one of our locations or sign up for our next session to experience a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health