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 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 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 increases. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to supply members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, warding off cravings and eating too much.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Eliminating 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 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 bad, but for active individuals, 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 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 remain regular.
Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been connected to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that helps us feel happy. Not enough healthy carbs can mean a decrease in serotonin levels, possibly causing 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 natural metabolic operation. 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 creates ketones for a fuel source. If you’re eating a balanced diet, this isn’t an issue and your body adjusts to your levels. Where ketosis can become problematic 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 use a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to assure you’re still getting plenty 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 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 a spike in blood sugar because they are quickly broken down versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a slower pace, releasing energy over time. When this spike occurs, our bodies release hormones to manage blood sugar, which creates 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 reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important 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 beverage to your diet every day 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 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 too much in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body stores the excess as fat.
When planning meals and grocery shopping, make a habit to take a look at the nutrition label. Don’t buy foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and have water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re using your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the correct, balanced nutrition your body needs to work 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 meeting your fitness goals, get in touch with 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