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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 vital foods? How does it affect our bodies? We’ve already reviewed protein, so let’s go over 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 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 made to supply members with a low glycemic load that keeps them in “burn mode” throughout the day, preventing cravings and eating too much.

Too Little Carbs

Carbs are an essential macronutrient. Removing or reducing carbs from your diet can have some side effects that we’ve shown below.

Energy Loss & Fatigue—Carbs are our primary 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 active people, fatigue and energy loss will occur quickly and long-term effects could mean decreased 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 ensure 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. Signs of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, hunger, weakness, and difficulty speaking.

Ketosis—Ketosis is a normal metabolic operation. If you don’t have enough 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 eating a balanced diet, this won’t be a problem and your body gets used to to your levels. Where ketosis can become dangerous 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 adopt 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 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 sleepy. Eating carbs high on the glycemic index can cause a spike in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a less rapid pace, discharging energy over time. When this spike takes place, our bodies release hormones to adjust blood sugar, which causes the crash. Carbs that are complex and dense in fiber will help avoid the carb spike and crash.

Type 2 Diabetes—While not an immediate effect of consuming too many high-glycemic carbs, a high-carb diet can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Eating the right portion size is essential for lowering the risk of ending up with type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are vital for proper function, they need to be portioned for what is needed. Excess from sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.

Adding just one serving of a sweet 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—Taking in 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 issues like stroke, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Eating too many carbs, like any macronutrient, means we have too many in our bodies. When we have this overload, our body stores the excess as fat.

Farrell's Good Sources of Carbs

When planning meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to review the nutrition label. Avoid 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 right, balanced nutrition your body needs to work 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 enroll in our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!

Sources:

  1. LiveStrong
  2. Everyday Health
  3. LiveStrong
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