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 essential foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s review 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 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 goes up. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created to give members a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, preventing cravings and overeating.
Too Little Carbs
Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Removing or decreasing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve summarized below.
Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our central 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 using 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 important 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 linked to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that helps us feel happy. Not enough healthy carbs can mean a drop 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. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.
Ketosis—Ketosis is a regular metabolic process. 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 creates ketones for a fuel source. If you’re consuming a balanced diet, this isn’t a problem and your body adjusts to your levels. Where ketosis can become unhealthy 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 follow 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 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 sleepy. Eating carbs high on the glycemic index can cause a spike in blood sugar because they are quickly absorbed versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a less rapid pace, letting out 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 block the carb spike and crash.
Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate effect of taking in too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can heighten your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Limiting your portions is essential for lowering 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. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweetened soda 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—Consuming 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 a number of other 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 planning meals and grocery shopping, make a practice to take a look at 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 using your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already receiving the proper, 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 reaching your fitness goals, get in touch with one of our locations or sign up for our next session to experience a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health