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Carbs: Too Little or Too Much

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Fitness Tips

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 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 dense 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 having too much food.

Too Little Carbs

Carbs are an important macronutrient. Eliminating or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve outlined below.

Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our main 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 utilizing fat. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but for people who are active, weakness and energy loss will occur 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 be certain 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 makes us feel happy. Not enough healthy carbs can mean a decline 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. Warning signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.

Ketosis—Ketosis is a natural metabolic action. 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 won’t be a problem 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 use 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 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 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 an increase in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a lower pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to manage blood sugar, which causes 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 result of consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can heighten your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Portion control is essential for reducing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are vital for proper performance, they need to be sized for what is needed. An overabundance of sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.

Adding just one serving of a sugary drink to your diet daily 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—Taking in too many refined carbs or high-glycemic carbs can also cause 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 an excess in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body holds onto the excess as fat.

Farrell's Good Sources of Carbs

When preparing meals and grocery shopping, make a habit 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 following your Farrell's nutrition plan, you’re already getting the proper, balanced nutrition your body needs to operate 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 achieving your fitness goals, contact one of our locations or sign up for our next session to experience a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!

Sources:

  1. LiveStrong
  2. Everyday Health
  3. LiveStrong
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