Are your carbs too low?
Carbs – some people hate them, most of us love them but they do not necessarily love us back. While many of us eat too many carbs, in some cases we are not eating enough. If your carb intake reaches a level that is not low enough to see you go into ketosis (<20% total calories coming from carbs) but is too low for your levels of activity you may find yourself in the situation where you seem to be eating very little but still not losing body fat. So here are some signs your carbs may be a little on the low side.
1. You are eating well but not losing weight
If you are consuming less than 80g of total carbs each day but doing a lot of exercise, your carbs will be too low to actually metabolise body fat and your metabolic rate will slow down over time. The average female will require at least 120-140g of carbs if they are exercising regularly and sometimes our amounts are a little on the low side. A quick calculation of your carb intake using myfitnesspal may suggest you need a little more carb at one or more of your meals. Start by adding 10-20g of extra carbs via a piece of fruit, bread or 1/2 cup of wholegrains to the meal straight after exercise to slightly increase your carb intake and support fat loss.
2. You are feeling tired
There are a number of reasons we can feel tired but if you are exercising regularly and consuming inadequate amounts of carbs you will be left feeling lethargic and lacking the energy you usually have to go about your day to day life. The reason for this is that your naturally energy systems have been altered which may in turn impact your blood glucose control. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in headaches, and inability to concentrate and a general feeling of lethargy.
3. You are craving sugars
Regular cravings after a meal may be a sign that your meal does not contain a balance of carbs and proteins that you need for fullness and satisfaction which can result in extreme feelings of hunger. Fluctuating blood glucose levels can also leave you feeling extremely hungry even when you have eaten only an hour or two previously as the body identifies that you have not taken adequate amounts of carbohydrate on board.
4. You are clogged up
As a number of high carbohydrate foods including fruit, starchy vegetables including corn and sweet potato and breads and cereals are also rich sources of dietary fibre, eating few of these foods can leave your overall fibre intake a little on the low side. In addition when your gut has been used to you consuming these foods regularly, and suddenly finds that it is no longer receiving significant amounts of wheat based fibres it can significantly impact the total amount of bulk moving through the gut and cause significant reductions in transit time, or the time waste moves through the digestive tract resulting in constipation and much less frequent bowel movements in general.
5. Your breath is very ordinary
When our carbohydrate intake drops below a certain level, the body will make ketones, which is an alternate fuel source for the liver and the brain made from fat stores. Ketones have a very distinct smell, some of which will be secreted through saliva if you are in ketosis. Often evident when you have trained after consuming very little carbohydrate for a day or two, the smell is far from pleasant and may suggest you could benefit from a little more carbohydrate in your diet.