Eating a balanced diet 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 dense 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) goes up based on carbohydrate intake. The higher the GI number, the more blood sugar goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to provide members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, preventing cravings and overeating.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Removing or decreasing 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 reduces the body’s fuel source. If you don’t have enough glucose from healthy carbs to burn, the body will begin burning fat. Doesn’t sound bad, but for active individuals, exhaustion and energy loss will happen quickly and long-term effects could mean limited performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is essential for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet could cause constipation, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to remain regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been linked to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical responsible for making us feel happy. Too few healthy carbs can mean a decline in serotonin levels, possibly bringing on 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. Signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a natural metabolic operation. 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 following a balanced diet, this won’t be a problem and your body gets used to to your levels. Where ketosis can become dangerous is when your body accrues too many ketones from lack of energy, which can lead to dehydration and a chemical imbalance in the blood. Many individuals use a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to make certain you’re still getting plenty of what your body has to have to work 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 tired. Eating carbs high on the glycemic index can cause a hike in blood sugar because they are quickly absorbed versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a lower pace, releasing energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to manage blood sugar, which creates 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 cause of consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Eating the right portion size is essential for lowering 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. Excess from sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweet soda to your diet daily heightens 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 make you gain weight, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to more health 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 holds onto the excess as fat.
When preparing meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to review the nutrition label. Stay away from foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and have water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in the proper, balanced nutrition your body needs to work effectively and efficiently to perform 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 enroll in our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health