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 important 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 include 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 give members a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, preventing cravings and eating too much.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Cutting out or decreasing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve summarized below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our primary 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 burning fat. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but for active people, fatigue and energy loss will settle in quickly and long-term effects could mean limited performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is necessary 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 connected to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that makes 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 process. 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 creates ketones for a fuel source. If you’re eating a balanced diet, this won’t be a problem and your body adjusts to your levels. Where ketosis can become unhealthy 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 adopt a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to assure you’re still getting an ample amount of what your body has to have 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 gone 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 spike in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a less rapid pace, releasing energy over time. When this spike occurs, our bodies release hormones to adjust blood sugar, which prompts the crash. Carbs that are complex and dense in fiber will help avoid 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 increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Eating the right portion size is essential for decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are necessary 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 sweet drink to your diet daily increases 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 make you gain weight, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to more health issues 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 stores the excess as fat.
When devising meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to take a look at the nutrition label. Don’t buy foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and drink water in place of sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re using your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in the proper, balanced nutrition your body needs to perform successfully 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, contact one of our locations or enroll in our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health