Not all carbs are a dietary evil, though, and not eating enough carbs can lead to unpleasant symptoms like headaches, GI irregularity, and fatigue.
On the flip side, your body needs some carbs to function does not mean you should go carb-crazy every day.
How much carbs should I consume daily?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65% of your total daily calories. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, that is 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.
How to tell if you are overeating carbs?
Because finding the proper ratio is tricky, how can you tell if your carb balance is out of whack? Eight warning signs indicate you have been eating too many simple carbs.
Even though they are delicious, we often blame carb-heavy favorites like bread, pasta, cereal, and rice for our collectively rising rates of heart disease, obesity, and insulin resistance.
Carbs have had a bad rap among dieters since low-carb diets, like Atkins, rose in popularity in the early 2000s. Before then, simple carbs formed the base of the now-outdated food pyramid.
At the time, diet experts recommended that bread, cereal, rice, and pasta should make up most of your diet, accounting for six to 11 servings per day—which exceeds the recommended servings of the fruit and vegetable groups combined.
What are the signs?
1. Gaining weight
Do you see the numbers on the scale steadily increasing, despite all your hard work on the treadmill? Or maybe the numbers are not climbing, but they are not exactly going down, either. You have hit a weight loss plateau.
One possible reason you may be having weight loss woes is that you are eating too many simple carbs and, by default, too many calories. This is because, by volume, simple carb foods tend to be more calorie-dense than complex carbohydrates.
For example, one cup of cooked rice contains about 170 calories and 37 grams of carbs, while one cup of cooked carrots contains only 55 calories and 13 grams of carbs. Plus, those 13 grams of carbs in carrots also include 5 grams of fiber, a nutrient that will help you stay full for longer.
2. Low energy
After chowing down on a big bowl of pasta, you might feel great at first—but it won’t last long. According to the American Heart Association, glucose is released into your bloodstream in a quick, large dose when your body digests a simple carbohydrate. This gives you a burst of energy, albeit only a temporary one.
A sugar crash follows, leaving you feeling less energized than before you ate.
Too many fast-digested carbs at one meal can put your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. If you feel sluggish and tired after a meal, you may consume too many carbs, especially the fast-digesting ones.
3. Crave to have some more sugar
Have you ever talked to someone who went sugar-free?
After a few weeks, they cannot even look at a candy bar or can of soda the same way. That is because when you eat sugar, your brain releases dopamine, an addicting feel-good hormone, so the more sugar you eat, the more dopamine you crave.
Because simple carbs break down quickly into glucose, eating white bread has a similar effect on your body as consuming sugar. You’ll find yourself craving the white bread you eat, the white bread (and candy, donuts, and cookies).
4. Skin problems
You had acne in your teen years, but why do you have it now?
Researchers have studied the relationship between acne and diet for years, and many have concluded that a high glycemic diet (i.e., one high in refined carbs) may be the source of recurrent skin breakouts.
Researchers identified a correlation between moderate to severe acne and added sugar, dairy, and saturated fat among young adult males and females.
You need fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly, but if you’re eating too many simple carbs, you’re not consuming enough fiber to get the digestive job done. Hello, lack of gut motility and constipation!
Bloating is also a side effect of excess carbohydrates.
Carbs tend to hold onto water, which is why so many people lose a bunch of “water weight” when starting a low-carb diet.
Eating consistent amounts of healthy carbs typically will not result in excessive water retention but eating a large quantity of white flour and simple sugars, especially late in the evening, can result in increased bloat and water retention the next day.
6. Increasing cholesterol levels
In addition to higher blood sugar levels, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates can raise your cholesterol levels, which can also cause type 2 diabetes and a higher incidence of stroke and heart disease.
Consuming excess sugar can lead to inflammation in your body, damage your artery walls, and increase heart disease risk.
Typically, the more high-glycemic foods you eat, the higher your insulin levels LDL (or low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol will be (and LDL is a critical factor in developing heart disease).
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology illustrates the connection: When 15,000 Dutch women between the ages of 49 and 70 were evaluated, researchers found that a high glycemic diet was associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease if the women were overweight.
7. Tooth decay
Raise your hand if your mother ever warned you about the tooth-destroying effects of sugar.
It turns out she was not just trying to curb your lollipop addiction: People who consume more sugar typically end up with more cavities.
What does this have to do with carbs? Hopefully, by now, you have caught on that simple carbs are not much different from sugar regarding how they affect the body.
Carbs—especially the starchy variety—feed the cavity-causing bacteria that live in your mouth—food for thought (pun intended!).
8. Slow brain function
We often think of food as fueling our bodies and forget that what we eat fuels our brains, too.
In recent years, some researchers have looked into the relationship between low-carb diets and mental acuity, specifically related to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2020 study published in the journal PNAS suggests that our brains become less adept at using glucose for fuel as we age.
As a result, the body needs to use another kind of fuel for brain function. In the study, participants who maintained a low-carb, ketone-burning diet or who consumed a ketone supplement had more stable levels of brain activity than participants who burned glucose in more traditional diets.
That is one possible long-term effect of consuming too many carbs; in the short term, we know that refined carbs cause bursts of energy followed by steep crashes, leading to feelings of mental sluggishness or fogginess.
A low-carb diet may increase your memory and set you up for better brain health in the future.
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