Hey Angels and Alphas,
Countless of today’s weight loss and diet trends, particularly keto, have led us all to be skeptical about carbs — and people have been cutting back on everything from bread to bananas.
But is swapping your morning oatmeal and your afternoon apple for some eggs and avocado really a productive way to support your overall health and maintain a healthy weight?
The amount of carbs your body needs to thrive will largely depend on your individual needs, your lifestyle, and your fitness goals. But that said, it’s a great idea to learn about the signs your body might be giving you that it needs more carbs… and you better know how to recognize them and address them.
Let’s dive into this topic right now.
FIRST OF ALL, CARBS ARE NOT INNATELY GOOD OR BAD
Your body needs them. Carbs are the primary fuel source of the body and they provide you with the energy you need to carry out daily activities. They’re also the brain’s primary fuel source, and without enough carbohydrates, it can’t function optimally.
When you consume carbs, your body breaks them down into sugar, which can then be converted into energy straight from your bloodstream or even stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver so it can be converted into energy later.
To keep your body fueled adequately, the general guidelines recommend that you should get between 45–65% of your daily calories from various sources of carbohydrates.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS YOUR BODY NEEDS MORE CARBS?
If you fall short on the body’s go-to fuel source, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel the effects in a number of ways — from completely unexpected ways to pretty obvious ones.
#1 BRAIN FOG AND FATIGUE
The first (and perhaps most obvious) sign that your body isn’t getting the carbs it requires to function its best is the feeling of being physically and mentally drained.
In addition to feeling sluggish, and maybe even sleepy throughout the day, many people tend to experience headaches and have trouble focusing when they don’t consume the carbs they need.
#2 BEING MOODY
Right next to having trouble focusing, you will also experience changes in your mood — especially irritability — when you start falling short of your body’s carbohydrate needs.
In addition to being the primary fuel source for the brain, carbohydrates also enhance the body’s production of serotonin, the hormone that helps us balance our mood. You can only imagine what happens when you’re not consuming ample carbs.
#3 UNPRODUCTIVE WORKOUTS
If eating too few carbs happens to leave you struggling to get through your average workday, imagine the impact it has on how you feel during training.
While insufficient carbs probably won’t be so problematic for lower-intensity workouts (such as yoga), it can pretty much destroy your performance in higher-intensity training such as HIIT. Why? Higher-intensity exercise largely depends on glucose from the carbs in our bloodstream or those stored in our body for fuel since it simply cannot produce enough energy quickly enough through just oxygen and fat.
#4 DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS
One of the biggest downsides to missing out on the carbs your body needs for fuel… you also miss out on the healthy fiber that comes with them.
Cutting back on foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains means you eliminate a lot of the fiber from your diet. Without adequate fiber, which adds bulk to our stool, we will end up with constipation.
And considering most Americans fall short on fiber already, reducing carbs practically guarantees trouble.
HOW DO WE INCREASE OUR CARB INTAKE IN A HEALTHY WAY?
If any of these problems sound familiar, we recommend focusing on eating ample carbohydrates and then monitoring the improvements in how you feel.
In order to do so, either track your meals for the next few days and make sure 45–65% of your calories are coming from carbs. That, or, just make sure a quarter of your plate at each meal consists of healthy sources of carbohydrates.
What qualifies as “healthy” carbs?
Any whole-food source, such as whole grains (Think: brown rice or oats); legumes (beans or lentils); fruits and starchy vegetables (such as potatoes or squash).
If you’re concerned about how boosting your carb intake might affect your waistline, just know this: The fiber that comes inside these all-natural whole grains will help keep you fuller for longer periods of time and you will be more satiated between meals, ultimately supporting your weight loss goals in the long-run.