The ‘right’ amount of carbohydrates we need to consume balances on a thin line – extreme low-carb diets can cause people to have very little energy, whilst too many carbs can also have a negative impact on energy levels, as well as affecting mood, weight and digestion.
Research shows many of us eat too many carbohydrates and our metabolism cannot keep up.
But how do we know when we are eating too many? Your body can help to tell you when to stop or if you need to introduce more carbs to your diet – you just need to know what to look for.
The following questions can be asked to determine whether something needs to change:
- Do you gain weight easily, despite a ‘healthy’ diet?
- Do you crave starchy foods?
- Do you have a guilty sweet-tooth?
- Do you feel tired or lethargic shortly after consuming carbs?
- Do you feel irritable or light-headed when hungry?
- Do you gain weight on your face and abs, rather than hips and thighs?
If you can relate to three or more of these questions, you may be eating more carbohydrates than your body can process.
To combat and reduce some of these negative symptoms, try to cut out the sweet, starchy ‘white’ foods, (white bread, white pasta etc.) If you have already done this and still experience some negative effects, try reducing your intake of grains and high-sugar fruits.
If you begin to crave sugar, opt for snacking on blueberries – but do monitor how you are feeling, as you don’t want your body to disagree with you.
The second step is to experiment with how much your body can handle. Your tolerance for carbs may differ from day to day – if you are stressed or tired, a high-carb diet may not be the best dinner choice that day.
For example, you may enjoy pancakes and bananas on a lazy Saturday morning, but before a stressful day at work, it may not be the best option. By working out what is going on in your life, and how carbohydrates interact with this, you will be able to focus on the right carb balance that makes you feel great.
Give the challenge a go:
Start fresh – Cut out sugars and grains for a week or two, slowly reintroducing grains will help your body work out what it needs and how much it can handle.
Eat more leafy greens and healthy fats – These will keep you satisfied as well as provide you with vital nutrients. If you are getting enough of the other food groups, you will find the ‘healthy level’ of grains your body needs.
Exercise – Exercise will help improve your carb-tolerance. You may be eating a balanced diet, but if you are lacking physical activity, it could be as simple as your body not burning off the energy the carbohydrates are providing.