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 essential foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s review carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are our body’s central 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 contain 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) increases based on carbohydrate intake. The higher the GI number, the more blood sugar rises. The Farrell's nutrition plan was made to provide 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 important macronutrient. Cutting out or decreasing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve shown 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 burning fat. Doesn’t sound negative, but for people who are active, 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 necessary for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet may 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 producing 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 normal metabolic process. If you don’t have enough 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 consuming a balanced diet, this isn’t a problem and your body gets used to 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 follow a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to confirm you’re still getting enough of what your body requires 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 tired. 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 happens, our bodies release hormones to adjust blood sugar, which prompts the crash. Carbs that are complex and high in fiber will help block the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate result of eating too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can heighten your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Eating the right portion size is essential for reducing the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are necessary for proper performance, they need to be sized for what is needed. An overabundance of sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sugary 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—Taking in 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 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 practice to take a look at the nutrition label. Don’t buy foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and stick to water in place of sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re following your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the right, balanced nutrition your body needs to operate successfully 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 experience a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health