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Carbs: Too Little or Too Much

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Fitness Tips

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 important foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s review carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are our body’s central 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 include 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 increases. The Farrell's nutrition plan was created 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. Cutting out or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve shown 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 like a bad thing, but for people who are active, fatigue and energy loss will happen quickly and long-term effects could mean decreased 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 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 responsible for making us feel happy. Too few 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. Signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.

Ketosis—Ketosis is a natural metabolic process. If you don’t have enough glucose (energy) from carbs to burn, your body will start burning fat, which is known as ketosis. During this process, your body creates ketones for a fuel source. If you’re eating a balanced diet, this won’t be a problem and your body becomes accustomed to to your levels. Where ketosis can become problematic 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 plenty of what your body has to have 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 experienced 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 slower pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike occurs, our bodies release hormones to regulate blood sugar, which creates the crash. Carbs that are complex and dense in fiber will help block the carb spike and crash.

Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate cause of eating 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 developing type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are important 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 sweetened soda to your diet each day 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—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 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 keeps the excess as fat.

Farrell's Good Sources of Carbs

When preparing meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to take a look at 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 correct, balanced nutrition your body needs to perform in the best manner and efficiently to achieve your best in and outside of the gym.

If you're currently not a member of Farrell's and not meeting 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!

Sources:

  1. LiveStrong
  2. Everyday Health
  3. LiveStrong
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