We always learn something new when it comes to health, nutrition, and fitness. Recently, carbohydrates have been put in the spotlight due to the negative effects on our overall health. With many people turning to low-carb, ketogenic, paleo, and Whole30 diets, we’ve been made to believe that cutting back on carbs is healthy and a guaranteed way to shed the extra weight. A recent study found that carbohydrates ranked second, (after sugar), as the most cited cause of weight gain. That said, we sought to find out what exactly happens to our bodies when we stop eating sugar and carbs.
Simple Carbs Vs. Complex Carbs
Not all carbs are bad for your health. Simple carbs are those found in the processed foods we eat. These carbs come from original carb sources, but have undergone heavy processing and refining, with most of the nutrients damaged or removed in the process.
What’s left behind are only empty calories. Some of the simple carbs you might be taking regularly include white bread, white rice, sodas, sugary cereals, candy, and many others. Then we have complex carbs. These are carbs in their original form and are mostly found in natural foods, such as:
- Vegetables like squash, butternut, green peas, and sweet potatoes.
- Whole grains, including whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley.
- Fruits like melons, apples, berries, oranges, etc.
- Beans like soybean, kidney, black, and pinto.
So, when we talk about cutting back on carbs, it’s the simple carbs you need to avoid at all costs. When you do, here’s how your body responds to the change in diet:
You May Feel More Fatigued and Irritable
When you stop eating carbs altogether, your blood sugar levels will drop so low to the extent that your body releases two stress hormones – epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones heighten your “flight” and “fight” state. You start feeling fatigued all the time, you become irritable, and starvation kicks in. When you go for some time without eating carbs, your body tries to find an alternative fuel source, and it turns to protein, which is required for muscle repair and growth. In the long run, it will harm your health. For this reason, health experts recommend cutting back on carbs rather than stopping it altogether. Just stick to the complex carbs and void simple carbs.
Your Body Burns More Fat
The first and automatic side effect of cutting carbs from your diet is the loss of fat. You see, when you eat carbs, they are the first nutrients that your body breaks down for fuel. Now, once the body gets all the energy it needs, the leftover sugar has no place to go and is instead stored as fat. Now, imagine what happens when you eat more carbs than your body needs on a regular basis. You guessed it right! Weight gain. When you reduce the amount of carb intake, you allow your body to burn through the fat it stored. However, you can’t just burn fat by cutting back on carbs. You also need to engage in fitness training with a combination of the right foods.
You Eat Fewer Calories
When you cut back on carbs, and increase your intake of high-fiber diets, vegetables, and fruits, you may enter a metabolic state known as ‘nutritional ketosis’. This is when your body burns fat for energy rather than utilizing carbs. In essence, a low-carb diet might help to reduce calorie intake, which in turn promotes fat loss.
Your Sugar Cravings Drop
Simple carbs can be quite addictive, yet many people don’t understand the amount of sugar they take when eating foods like cookies and cakes. Consuming these types of processed sugars can cause tooth decay, alarming cholesterol levels, diabetes, and many other health issues. Fiber-rich complex carbs take longer to get digested, preventing spikes in your blood sugar that can cause insulin release.
You May Lose Weight
If you stick to a low-carb diet, you may start to experience some weight loss. At first, you lose water weight, then the rest will follow. This is because you’ve decreased the number of calories you consume by cutting back on the carbs.
You May Develop Morning Breath
If you’re on a keto diet, you must have experienced morning breath all day. The reason is that, when you deny your body carbs, it starts to burn fat, a process called ketosis. One side effect of ketosis is bad breath. However, the bad breath will subside once you get used to a low-diet carb.
You’ll Experience Lasting Energy
Simple carbs like added sugars are quickly digested and enter your bloodstream quickly, giving you an immediate energy boost. However, once the sugar is metabolized, you’re in for a crash. Simple sugars are all around you, including in salads and pasta or barbecue sauce. These might trick you into feeling energized all day long. Your best bet is to try healthy fat and foods rich in protein for a steady stream of energy all day. Plus, you won’t experience the fatigue that follows after a crash.
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