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 vital foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s review carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are our body’s main 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 have multiple sugar molecules linked together by “starch.” Foods high 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 rises. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to provide members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, warding off cravings and having too much food.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an important macronutrient. Eliminating or limiting carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve shown below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our primary 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 using fat. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, 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 linked to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical responsible for making us feel happy. Limited healthy carbs can mean a decrease 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. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a regular metabolic process. If you don’t have enough glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is called ketosis. During this process, your body creates ketones for a fuel source. If you’re consuming a balanced diet, this isn’t an issue and your body gets used to to your levels. Where ketosis can become problematic is when your body has too many ketones from lack of energy, which can lead to dehydration and a chemical imbalance in the blood. Many individuals follow a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to confirm you’re still getting an ample amount of what your body requires to function 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 a hike in blood sugar because they are quickly broken down versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a less rapid pace, releasing energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to regulate blood sugar, which causes the crash. Carbs that are complex and rich in fiber will help block the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate result of taking in 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 reducing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important for proper function, they need to be sized for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweetened beverage to your diet every day 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—Consuming 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 other concerns like stroke, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Eating too many carbs, like any macronutrient, means we have too many in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body holds onto the excess as fat.
When planning meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to read the nutrition label. Avoid foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and drink water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re using your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in 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, get in touch with one of our locations or enroll in our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health