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 important 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 primary 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 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 supply members with 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. Cutting out 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 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 people, weakness 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 necessary for bathroom regularity. A low-carb diet can 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 tied 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 drop 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 regular metabolic operation. If you don’t have ample glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is called ketosis. During this process, your body produces ketones for a fuel source. If you’re consuming 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 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 needs 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 sleepy. 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 less rapid pace, releasing energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to regulate 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 consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is essential for lowering the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important for proper function, they need to be the right size for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweetened soda to your diet each 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—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 a number of additional concerns 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 holds onto the excess as fat.
When devising meals and grocery shopping, make a practice to read the nutrition label. Avoid foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and stick to water instead of sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in the proper, 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, contact one of our locations or join our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health