Having 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 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 include 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 increases. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to supply 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 vital macronutrient. Eliminating or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve outlined below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our central fuel source. Not eating enough healthy carbs limits 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 bad, but for active people, weakness and energy loss will settle in quickly and long-term effects could mean reduced performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is necessary for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet could cause constipation, so it’s important to ensure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to remain regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been tied to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that makes us feel happy. Not enough healthy carbs can mean a decrease in serotonin levels, possibly causing 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. Warning signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a normal metabolic operation. If you don’t have adequate glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is known as ketosis. During this process, your body makes 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 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 needs 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 gone 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 digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a slower pace, letting out energy over time. When this spike happens, our bodies release hormones to adjust blood sugar, which causes the crash. Carbs that are complex and rich in fiber will help avoid the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate cause of eating 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 reducing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important for your body to work normally, they need to be the right size for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweet drink to your diet daily 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 make you gain weight, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to a number of additional issues 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 devising meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to take a look at the nutrition label. Avoid foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and have water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re using your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the correct, balanced nutrition your body needs to perform effectively and efficiently to be your best in and outside of the gym.
If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not achieving your fitness goals, reach out to one of our locations or enroll in our next session to experience a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health