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Carbs: Too Little or Too Much

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Fitness Tips

Making sure your diet is balanced 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 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 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 increases. The Farrell's nutrition plan is designed to supply 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. Removing or decreasing 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 limits 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 negative, but for active people, weakness and energy loss will happen 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 may cause constipation, so it’s important to be certain you’re eating enough healthy fiber, or “roughage” as they used to say, to stay regular.

Mood Changes—Carbohydrates have been connected to the release of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical that helps us feel happy. Not enough healthy carbs can mean a decline in serotonin levels, possibly causing 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 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 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 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 make certain you’re still getting an ample amount of what your body needs 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 been through 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 hike in blood sugar because they are quickly digested versus carbs that are high in fiber that digest at a lower pace, letting out 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 dense in fiber will help prevent 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. 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 portioned for what is needed. Too many sugary drinks and foods is what puts you at risk.

Adding just one serving of a sweet drink 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 cause weight gain, which could lead to becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to a number of additional 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 keeps the excess as fat.

Farrell's Good Sources of Carbs

When planning meals and grocery shopping, make a routine to read the nutrition label. Don’t buy foods that have added sugar and sweeteners and drink water in place of 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 meeting your fitness goals, reach out to one of our locations or sign up for 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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