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 essential foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s go over 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 goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan is designed to provide members with 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 vital macronutrient. Cutting out or reducing 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 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 negative, but for active individuals, weakness and energy loss will occur quickly and long-term effects could mean limited 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 be certain 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 helps 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 action. 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 produces ketones for a fuel source. If you’re following a balanced diet, this isn’t a problem and your body becomes accustomed to to your levels. Where ketosis can become dangerous 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 adopt a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to make certain you’re still getting enough of what your body has to have 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 tired. Eating carbs high on the glycemic index can cause a spike in blood sugar because they are quickly absorbed versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a slower pace, letting out energy over time. When this spike occurs, our bodies release hormones to manage 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 cause of eating too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can heighten your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Limiting your portions is essential for lowering the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are vital for proper performance, they need to be portioned for what is needed. Excess from sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sugary drink 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 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 stores the excess as fat.
When devising meals and grocery shopping, make a habit to review 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 applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the right, balanced nutrition your body needs to operate successfully and efficiently to perform in and outside of the gym.
If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not reaching 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