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 review 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 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) 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, avoiding cravings and having too much food.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an vital 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 main 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 utilizing fat. Doesn’t sound negative, but for people who are active, weakness and energy loss will happen quickly and long-term effects could mean limited performance.
Constipation—Our dietary fiber comes from complex carbs and is essential 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 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 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 normal metabolic action. If you don’t have adequate 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 gets used to 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 follow a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to confirm you’re still getting an ample amount of what your body requires to perform 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 exhausted. 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 less rapid pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike happens, our bodies release hormones to regulate blood sugar, which prompts the crash. Carbs that are complex and rich in fiber will help avoid the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate result of taking in too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is essential for reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are necessary for proper performance, they need to be sized for what is needed. Excess from sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweet drink to your diet each day 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—Eating too many refined carbs or high-glycemic carbs can also make you gain weight, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to more health 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 preparing meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to read the nutrition label. Stay away from foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and have water as a substitute for sugary drinks and sodas.
If you’re applying your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already taking in the correct, balanced nutrition your body needs to operate effectively and efficiently to be your best in and outside of the gym.
If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not reaching your fitness goals, reach out to one of our locations or join our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health