• Sophia-Joelle Oswald

The Real Reason Why Carbs Don't Agree With You

One of the most widely shunned sources of fuel is carbohydrates. This macro-nutrient gets blamed for weight gain and various other health issues. While it's true that they don't always agree with every body type, it's important to make sure your carb consumption is based on nutritional theory and your own bio-individuality as opposed to the latest fad diet trend. If you have strong reason to believe that you do need to limit your carb intake, the information you find here may be helpful but it's a good idea to also see a health professional.

What are carbohydrates?

Quite literally, carbohydrates are molecules made from atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Dietary carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients (the other two being protein and fat) and contain starch, sugar, and fiber.

Carbs are divided into two categories: simple carbs and complex carbs. Sugar (or glucose) is a simple carb, which means it's used for energy and is easily digested. Too much of it, however, causes blood sugar levels to spike – and that can have an adverse effect on your health. Fiber falls under the complex carb category, which means it takes longer to digest and has less of an impact on blood sugar levels.

Complex carbs include foods like whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. Technically, fruits fall into the complex carb category but some have more sugar than fiber and vice versa. Typically, exotic fruits like mango and pineapple have more sugar than fiber while berries have more fiber than sugar.

Beneficial gut bacteria need carbs to grow. Oats, bananas, and yogurt are ideal carbs for good gut health.

Carbohydrate Intolerance

Some bodies struggle to digest and metabolize carbs. This is called carbohydrate intolerance and occurs when we consume more simple carbs. Some symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance are diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence.

Carbohydrate intolerance is the result of a lack of one or more intestinal enzymes. The most common type of carbohydrate intolerance is lactose intolerance. These enzyme deficiencies can be what is called congenital or developmental lactose intolerance, but cases like this are rare and are inherited.

The Two Week Test can help you discover if you have carbohydrate intolerance.

Carbohydrate Sensitivity

Those with carbohydrate sensitivity usually have higher insulin levels within their blood leading to insulin resistance. This issue can cause diabetes in the future.

One of the primary signs of carbohydrate sensitivity is carb addiction. Many people are addicted to carbs without being consciously aware of it. Those with sensitivities can be affected by this even more so. Other symptoms of carbohydrate sensitivity include feeling sluggish, relying on food during stressful times, having a difficult time living without carbs, and lots of cravings for refined carbs.

Different Body Types

There are three body types that the majority of people align with: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. If you know which category your body best aligns with, you may have an easier time understanding the nutrients your specific body needs.

People with an ectomorph body type are usually thin with lower body fat. They may struggle to gain muscle or fat and have a higher BMR. Normally, ectomorphs have a high carb tolerance because they burn calories faster than the other body types. Ectomorphs thrive on whole and unrefined carbs but should shy away from processed carbs. You can view the macronutrient profile of an ectomorph here.

Mesomorphs normally have an hourglass figure and more muscle. Their body responds fast to changes in diet and physical activity, which can be either good or bad depending on the routine. They tend to need more calories and more protein. When weight training, they should consume carbs that are quickly digestible and dense and avoid added sugars. You will find the macronutrient profile of a mesomorph here.

Endomorphs have the lowest tolerance for carbs out of the three. This group is likely to deal with insulin resistance so they should consume more fats and proteins. When it comes to consuming carbs, they should stick to vegetables. You can find the macronutrient profile of an endomorph here.

Low Carb Diets

Unless recommended by a health professional to address a specific concern or issue, completely cutting out any food group isn't recommended. Keto, Atkins, and low-carb diets may be suggested depending on your body's specific needs.

Keto encourages your body to use fat as its main fuel source instead of carbs by moving into a state of ketosis. With this plan, there is an allowance of about 50g of carbs per day.

Similar to keto, Atkins decreases carbs and increases fat and protein, but the fat intake isn’t as high and carb intake isn't as low.

The low-carb diet lowers your carb intake to 20-60g a day. The main rule is keeping your carbs in check, but you get to make more choices about what to consume while following fewer rules.

It’s widely understood that we all have unique bodies. Our metabolisms are diverse and so are our tolerance levels when it comes to different foods. The best advice is to listen to your body, seek professional recommendations, and be thoughtful in what you choose to consume without driving yourself crazy.

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