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 vital 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 contain multiple sugar molecules linked together by “starch.” Foods rich 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) fluctuates based on carbohydrate intake. The higher the GI number, the more blood sugar goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan was made to provide 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 vital macronutrient. Removing or limiting carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve outlined 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 utilizing fat. Doesn’t sound bad, but for active people, exhaustion and energy loss will settle in quickly and long-term effects could mean reduced performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is essential for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet could cause constipation, so it’s important to make sure 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. 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. Signs 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 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 adjusts 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 assure you’re still getting enough of what your body has to have 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 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 hike in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a lower pace, letting out energy over time. When this spike occurs, our bodies release hormones to regulate blood sugar, which prompts the crash. Carbs that are complex and high in fiber will help prevent the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate cause of taking in too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is essential for decreasing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important for proper performance, they need to be portioned for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sugary drink to your diet every day 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—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 keeps the excess as fat.
When devising meals and grocery shopping, make a practice to read the nutrition label. Don’t buy foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and have water in place of sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in the right, balanced nutrition your body needs to work 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 enroll in our next session to undergo a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health