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 take a look at 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 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) increases based on carbohydrate intake. The higher the GI number, the more blood sugar goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to supply members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, avoiding 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 summarized below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our main 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 negative, but for active people, exhaustion 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 could cause constipation, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to stay regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been tied to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that helps us feel happy. Limited 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. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a natural metabolic action. If you don’t have ample glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is called ketosis. During this process, your body makes ketones for a fuel source. If you’re following a balanced diet, this isn’t an issue and your body gets used to to your levels. Where ketosis can become dangerous 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 follow a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to assure you’re still getting enough of what your body needs 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 experienced it. The blood sugar roller coaster of eating too many refined carbs and then suddenly crashing and feeling exhausted. 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, letting out 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 prevent 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 put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is essential for lowering the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important 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 sweetened beverage to your diet each 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 lead to 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 an excess in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body keeps 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 stick to water instead 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 operate effectively and efficiently to achieve your best in and outside of the gym.
If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not achieving your fitness goals, contact one of our locations or join our next session to undergo a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health