What to Expect When You Give Up Carbs
Giving up carbohydrates in an effort to drop weight can be an effective plan in the short run, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Here are some things you can expect to experience if you suddenly cut off your bread habit, and why you might not end up sticking to the plan.
In the immediate future after cutting out carbohydrates you might notice a fast drop in your body weight, but you can attribute that you to water, not fat. Carbohydrates are stored in the body as glycogen and each gram can hold up to three or four times its weight in water. When those stores of glycogen exit the body then much of the water does as well. The problem is that when you eat carbs again, back comes the water as well.
Call them what you want but carbohydrates are the bodies main fuel source, so when you stop eating them you might experience a dip in your energy levels as well. Whole grains are also a good source of all kinds of vitamins and minerals that are important for energy levels. This also means that your workouts might start to suffer, since it’s almost impossible to perform at your maximum effort without carbohydrates stored in the body ready to go. Both endurance and resistance training require it and over the longterm you might be doing your workouts more harm by skipping the carbs than you would by eating them in moderation.
When all of the glycogen is used up in your body, it switches over to using carbon pieces called ketones which comes from breaking down fat. Ketones work okay but they aren’t the favored option and taking the next best option can leave you with fatigue, bad breath, insomnia, stomach issues, and weakness. And then add to that the fact that brain likes to use carbohydrates to increase serotonin to make you feel good. Skipping carbs can actually make you feel a little bummed out.
One upside to cutting carbs out is that your cravings for them will drop dramatically or even completely. When you eat carbohydrates it raises the body’s blood sugar levels, which can also mean severe drops that leave the body looking for more to get them back up. When you stop causing your blood sugar to crash, you stop craving the things that make it spike to begin with. When you do eat carbs, the key to making sure you don’t go spiking and crashing is to pair them with healthy fats and protein that will help to keep the blood sugar stable.
It’s also important to choose whole grain, unprocessed carbs in their most natural state as opposed to refined ones. Whole grains still have some of their natural fiber attached which helps to stabilize the blood sugar, while refined grains that are stripped of fiber aren’t much different to the body than straight sugar.
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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.