What is the best way to support your overall health and maintain a healthy weight? That balance is harder and harder to find, now with today’s diet trends. The modern diets have led to skepticism about carbs — and cutting back on everything from bread to bananas.
Dietitian and personal trainer Jenna Appel affirms: “The number of carbs you need to thrive really depends on your individual needs, goals and lifestyle”.
Your body is smart enough to know if it needs more carbs, so you should better listen to it and eat more carbs.
The need for carbs
Did you know that carbs are not innately good or bad?
Appel says :“Carbs are our primary fuel source and provide us with the energy we need just to do daily activities and live,”. “They’re also our brain’s primary fuel source, and without ample carbohydrates, it can’t function optimally.” (According to Appel, the brain relies on carbs for about 90% of its energy.)
Our body breaks them down into sugar, when we eat carbs, which can be converted into energy straight from our bloodstream or stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver to convert into energy later.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting between 45–65% of your daily calories from carbohydrates in order to keep your body well-fueled. (If you eat 2,000 calories per day, that’s 225–320 grams of carbohydrates per day.)
Signs you need more carbs:
In case you feel physically and mentally exhausted, you might need to eat more carbs in order for your body to work at its best.
Many people experience headaches and trouble focusing when they don’t consume ample carbs, in addition to feeling sluggish and even sleepy throughout the day.
You may also experience changes in mood — especially irritability — when you fall short of your body’s carbohydrate needs, along with difficulty focusing, says Appel.
Carbohydrates also increase the body’s production of serotonin, the hormone that helps balance our mood in addition to being the brain’s primary fuel source.
3. Inefficient workouts
If eating too few carbs leaves you struggling to get through your average workday, you know it must impact how you feel during exercise, too.
While insufficient carbs may not be so problematic for lower-intensity workouts (like yoga) that your body can better use oxygen and fat to power, it can pretty much destroy your performance in higher-intensity training (like CrossFit), Appel says. Why? Higher-intensity exercise depends on glucose from the carbs in our bloodstream or stored in our muscles or liver for fuel since it cannot produce ample energy quickly enough with just oxygen or fat.
4. Digestive problems
We eliminate a lot of the fiber in our diet when we cut back on foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We end up with constipation and irregular time spent on the toilet without fiber, which adds bulk to our stool.
If you’re concerned about how increasing carb intake might affect your waistline, know this: “The fiber that comes in these natural whole grains helps keep you fuller for longer, so you will be more satiated between meals, which supports weight loss in the long run,” Appel says.