Many people believe one of the best ways to shed weight is to eliminate carbohydrates from their diet. But carbs are not all bad. In fact, plenty of healthy foods like fruits and beans contain carbohydrates.
While cutting carbs from your diet can help you lose pounds, you should think twice before you go completely carb free. Eliminating all carbohydrates from your diet could jeopardize your health.
Simple Vs. Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are often confused with simple carbs, the two are fairly different.
Foods like pastries, cookies, bagels, rolls, breads and pretzels contain simple carbohydrates. These carbs do nothing for your body but provide short-term energy. Cutting them out from your diet is safe, as they don't provide much nutritional benefit.
On the other hand, you shouldn't cut out all complex carbohydrates. These are the “good” carbohydrates, so to speak. Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans, complex carbohydrates help maintain weight and also protect against cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. Examples of foods with complex carbohydrates include broccoli, quinoa, apples and kidney beans.
Side Effects Of A No-Carb Diet
Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient that the body requires in substantial amounts. If you cut all carbohydrates out of your body, you could become malnourished. According to the McKinley Health Center, the body requires more carbohydrates than any other type of macronutrient.
If you drastically reduce your carb intake or completely cut them out, you'll probably feel fatigued. You'll also crave carb-filled foods, especially foods with simple carbohydrates like cookies or french fries. You could also experience headaches, irritability, hot flashes and some dizziness.
The most dangerous consequence of not getting enough carbs is low blood glucose. Carbs are rapidly converted into glucose, the body's natural source of energy. The carbs that aren't used for glucose are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If you don't eat enough complex carbs, you could deplete your body of its glycogen stores. This causes low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, a serious condition that can result in debilitating problems and even death.
Carbs are also essential for regular bowel movements and healthy digestion. Fiber is critical to keeping your excretory system operating efficiently. It also helps clean your body of toxins, preventing other health problems.