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 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 contain multiple sugar molecules linked together by “starch.” Foods rich 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 rises. The Farrell's nutrition plan was made to supply members with 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 important 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 central 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 burning fat. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but for active individuals, exhaustion and energy loss will happen 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 ensure you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to be 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 decrease 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 regular metabolic process. 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 makes ketones for a fuel source. If you’re following a balanced diet, this isn’t a problem and your body becomes accustomed to 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 adopt a low-carb ketogenic diet for weight loss, but it needs to be balanced to assure you’re still getting plenty of what your body needs 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 gone through 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 broken down versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a slower pace, letting out energy over time. When this spike happens, our bodies release hormones to adjust 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 result of taking in 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 reducing the risk of having type 2 diabetes. While carbs, and the sugars from carbs, are necessary for your body to work normally, they need to be the right size for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.
Adding just one serving of a sweet soda to your diet daily 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—Eating 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 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 stores the excess as fat.
When preparing meals and grocery shopping, make a practice to take a look at the nutrition label. Stay away from 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 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 meeting your fitness goals, get in touch with one of our locations or join our next session to have a real fitness transformation! We also offer free trial classes!
- Everyday Health