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 essential 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 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 contain 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 rises. The Farrell's nutrition plan is designed to give members a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, warding off cravings and having too much food.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an vital macronutrient. Removing or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve shown below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our primary fuel source. Not eating enough healthy carbs decreases 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 active people, exhaustion 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 may cause constipation, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to remain regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been linked to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical responsible for making 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. Warning signs 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 referred to as 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 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 use 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 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 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 a spike in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a lower pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike happens, our bodies release hormones to regulate blood sugar, which causes the crash. Carbs that are complex and rich in fiber will help prevent the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate result of consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Limiting your portions is essential for decreasing the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important for proper performance, they need to be portioned 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 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 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 habit to review the nutrition label. Stay away from foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and stick to water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already receiving 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, reach out to one of our locations or sign up for our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health