As I’m working on the Nourishing Foods Winter Cleanse, I feel it’s important to talk about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have a bad reputation these days, but they are actually an important part of our diet.
I now know from experience that not eating enough carbs is STRESSFUL for my body.
Over the last few years, as I put my attention on healing my gut, I transitioned into eating a paleo type of diet that removed most grains and beans (carbs). I didn’t actually intend to be eating a low-carb diet but without grains and beans my carbohydrate consumption went way down. At first, I felt really good but over the years I noticed my energy was low, I had a hard time getting through my workouts and I wasn’t sleeping well. I had adrenal fatigue.
Carbs are extremely important in the body, specifically their role in signaling to the hypothalamus (the main hormone-signaler in the body) that you are in a fed, relaxed state. When you don’t get enough carbs (or any of the primary nutrients; protein, fat) your body is under stress. Stress causes your adrenals to produce the stress hormone cortisol.
Constant output of cortisol from the adrenals leads to the disruption of every other hormone, contributing to things like fatigue, PMS, cravings, and weight gain.
Limiting carbs can be very effective for short periods of time to improve things like blood sugar regulation, gut healing (SIBO, GAPS or candida protocol) and even accelerate weight loss.
The emphasis is on short periods of time.
Our bodies NEED carbohydrates, even though many people have the misconception that carbohydrates are bad.
4 Ways Eating Too Few Carbs Is Bad for Your Health
Your thyroid becomes sluggish – The thyroid gland relies on carbohydrates to convert T4 (the unusable form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone). Without adequate glucose (derived from carbohydrates) this conversion slows down, causing T3 levels to plummet. Think of T3 as the master hormone regulating everything from body temperature to metabolism. Low levels of T3 cause fatigue, mood problems, dry skin, inability to lose weight, and even high cholesterol.
Carbs are essential for energy production – Carbs provide quick energy and begin metabolizing almost immediately after eating them. If you are unable to recover from your workouts, can’t muster the energy to enjoy any type of movement, or regularly feel fatigued, taking a closer look at carbohydrate intake is vital.
Low carbohydrate intake is stressful on the adrenal glands – Many clients that I see with adrenal fatigue have previously been eating a low-carb diet, working out too much, and/or have large amounts of stress. Carbohydrates are essential to healthy adrenal function and going too low-carb can actually increase cortisol production. High cortisol can lead to a cascade of problems relating to weight management; most notably low T3(as mentioned in #1), thyroid metabolism defects, and decreased metabolic rate.
Cravings – Feelings of restriction towards any food will ultimately cause cravings for that food. In terms of low-carb diets specifically, I notice that many people have intense cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. This is your body’s way of screaming for glucose! Eating whole food sources of carbs allows you to satisfy your bodies cravings for carbohydrates in a way that will help you maintain a healthful way of eating, as well as your sanity.
How do you know if you’re eating too few carbs?
– Frequent fatigue
– Inability to lose weight/ plateauing
– Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
– No energy for fun movement
– Feeling really tired after working out
– Irregular menstrual cycles
The Best Whole Food Sources of Carbs
All carbs are not created equally. Carbs can be broken down into two types: simple and complex.
Simple carbs, or simple sugars, are made of shorter molecular structures that are easily broken down, meaning that they are absorbed faster and therefore cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This is not what you want. It’s important to consume more complex carbs.
Complex carbs have a more elaborate and longer molecular structure, which makes it harder for our bodies to break them down, requiring more time to do so. This causes complex carbs to be digested and absorbed more slowly, preventing a quick rise in blood sugar levels.
My Favorite Carbs
– Potatoes (sweet, purple, russet)
– Starchy veggies (carrots, beets, squash)
– Winter squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn, pumpkin)
– Black Beans
– Wild Rice
– Gluten free grains (millet, oats, amaranth)
Benefits of Carbs
Eating the right kinds or carbs in proper amounts is actually really good for your health.
By adding more complex carbs to your diet you can reap all sorts of glorious health benefits. Here are a few amazing things carbs can do for your body.
Carbs Give You Energy – Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which gets converted to energy to aid in physical activity. Glucose helps your body do almost everything, from breathing to lifting a finger, to walking, and of course any kind of exercise.
Carbs Help You Sleep Better – Carbs eaten at dinner help stabilize blood sugar and prevent you waking from hunger. Carbs increase the hormone insulin, which may play a role in promoting good sleep though increasing tryptophan to the brain, which makes serotonin.
Carbs Improve Brain Function – Carbs are the brain’s main energy source. Carbs are broken down into glucose which is the main fuel for the brain, needed to create and send neurotransmitters and messages throughout the body. If you aren’t consuming an adequate amount of carbs, it may start to affect your cognitive abilities.
Carbs Keep Your Mood Stable – Eating carbs helps to boost serotonin levels in the body, which is the feel-good hormone. This boost is made possible by L-tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein foods. However, carbs seem to increase the amount of L-tryptophan that can get to your brain (through the bloodstream), which can then boost serotonin.
What is a Good Amount of Carbs to Eat?
Of course, the amount of carbohydrates that are ideal for a person to eat daily will differ based on sex, activity level and health concerns. A good guideline is to eat nutrient dense carbs at every meal: fruit, starchy veggies, potatoes, even gluten free grains if you tolerate them. Experiment with different amounts at different times of the day and see how you feel. If you like to count carbs never dip below 100 grams. I personally don’t like counting. I prefer to listen to my body and notice how I feel.
If you’re interested in having even, steady energy throughout the entire day. If you want to quickly lose the few extra pounds you may have gained over the holiday (perfectly normal), boost your energy and recover your balance, I invite you to join us for the Nourishing Foods Winter Cleanse.
January is the perfect time to give our body a week of loving care. Starting out the year lighter, calmer and more connected will set the tone for the year ahead.
In this cleanse I guide you through a step by step program with the right amount of carbs, protein and fat to restore your adrenals and recover your balance. You’ll feel leaner, lighter and energized
In our Winter Cleanse we focus on pampering our adrenals and kidneys.
Nourishing Foods Winter Cleanse
Recover Your Balance – Pamper Your Adrenals
7 Days – Jan 20 -26, 2020
Our adrenal glands produce hormones that are vital to life. They also regulate metabolism and help our body respond to stress. They are involved in producing our happiness hormones.
One of the primary ways to support our adrenal glands is to keep our blood sugar in balance. In this cleanse we learn how to balance our blood sugar during the cleanse and after it’s over.
If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or if you wake up fatigued, these are all symptoms of adrenal stress.
Supporting your adrenal glands will improve your sleep.
Since stress is the #1 cause of adrenal fatigue, I have processes, recipes and supplements to ease both your internal and external stress.
Supporting your kidneys helps bring your acid alkaline levels back into balance which benefits every cell in your body. As always, your digestive system will also get a tune up.
This is an easy 7 day whole foods cleanse with vegan and paleo options. It is not juices and smoothies. There are plenty of warm, satisfying dishes to eat throughout the day.
The support you give your body in this cleanse lasts all winter long. You’ll stay healthy and energized through the cold months ahead. Your body will thank you.
Whether you join us for the cleanse or not, I this information about eating carbs helps you live a happier healthier life.