A personal trainer has revealed what really happens to your body when you give up carbohydrates, and the positive and negative effects you can expect when you cut them almost completely.
Rachael Attard, from Sydney, explained that while a low-carb diet can be beneficial for many body types looking to lose weight, it can also cause some difficult side effects – including headaches, digestive issues and short-term fatigue.
Instead of cutting them altogether, Rachael explained that a better approach is to limit your intake of specific carbs and time them around when you’re working out so your body uses the energy effectively.
A personal trainer has revealed what really happens to your body when you give up carbohydrates, and the positive and negative effects you can expect (Rachael Attard pictured)
Instead of cutting carbs (pictured) altogether, Rachael explained that a better approach is to limit your intake of specific carbs and time them around when you’re working out
‘Carbs are essential to your health, and they are very difficult to avoid completely,’ Rachael wrote on her website.
‘They are your body’s go-to source for energy, and when you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks down the sugars and starches into similar sugars.’
Alongside giving you mental and physical energy, Rachael said carbs are also invaluable for helping with your digestion, assisting with weight control and providing nutrients for your immune system.
She said most experts agree you should get between 45 and 60 per cent of your calories from carbs every single day.
The three different types of carbohydrates explained
* STARCHES: Starch is considered a complex carbohydrate because it is made up of numerous sugar units bonded together. You can find starches in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas. They provide a slower form of energy than simple carbs and are more likely to be used than stored as fat.
* FIBRE: Fibre is another form of complex carbohydrates. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre dissolves in your body. It becomes a gel-like substance, and it decreases blood sugar and lowers blood cholesterol. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve. Instead, it helps food pass through your digestive system quickly. This type of fibre helps keep you regular.
* SUGAR: Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and it passes through the body quickly. In general, it is easy for your body to digest and absorb sugar. Because of this, sugars can give you a quick boost of energy that burns out quickly. Sugars also spike your blood sugar.
Source: Rachael Attard
Rachael said there are benefits to cutting down your carb intake, including fat burning, reduced risk of health issues and increased focus (a client transformation pictured)
What are the benefits of a low-carb diet?
Reducing the amount of carbs you eat or only eating complex carbs that your body can use for energy has many benefits, the principal of which is fat burning.
‘Studies show that people on low-carb diets tend to lose significant amounts of fat and gain muscle,’ Rachael explained.
Low-carb diets are particularly good at targeting fat around your abdominal region.
The reason why cutting your carbs helps is because when you reduce your carbs, you reduce our body’s insulin levels, which is what causes the body to store fat.
A good way to cut your carbs is to focus on a keto-based diet that prioritises fat over carbs.
Reduced risk of health issues
The second benefit of cutting down your carb intake is a reduced risk of any health issues.
‘Low-carb diets have been associated with lower risk for several health conditions and diseases including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and Parkinson’s disease,’ Rachael said.
This is often because when you eat fewer carbs, you end up incorporating more healthy foods like vegetables into your diet.
Increased focus and clarity
Those who ditch or cut down their carbs can expect to feel increased focus and mental clarity, after a short period of tiredness akin to brain fog.
‘Getting rid of simple carbs can also be a great way to improve your energy levels,’ Rachael said.
‘When you eat simple carbs, you tend to get a boost of energy – and then a slump. Eating only complex carbs instead will help balance this out and give you a steadier source of energy.’
On the flip side, when you first cut down your intake of carbs, you might feel sick with something often called the ‘keto flu’, Rachael (pictured) said
What are the negatives of a low-carb diet?
On the flip side, when you first cut down your intake of carbs, you might feel sick with something often called the ‘keto flu’.
‘This isn’t an official medical sickness, and doctors aren’t sure exactly why it happens,’ Rachael said.
Some common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, headaches, bad breath, trouble sleeping and sugar cravings.
The good news is people will typically get over their ‘keto flu’ within a week if they can push past the cravings and exhaustion.
The PT explained that bad breath is a common side effect of limiting carbs, but there is a very simple explanation.
‘The bad breath comes from an increase in acetone levels. Acetone is a ketone that exits your body through your breath and urine,’ she said.
Rachael (pictured) warned that there are safe ways to cut down your carbs, including limiting refined carbs and grains and opting for high protein snacks and foods like meat and cheese
How to reduce your carb intake effectively
* Limit refined carbs and grains from things like bread.
* Limit sugar-sweetened drinks like fruit juice, energy drinks, sodas and flavoured coffees – which are often high in carbs.
* Opt for low-carb high protein foods and snacks like meat, cheese, Greek yoghurt, eggs and nuts.
* Read food labels to understand what you’re putting into your body.
* Consult your health practitioner or GP if you are thinking of cutting down carbs.
You might also notice increased digestive issues when you reduce your carbs.
‘Constipation and diarrhea are common side effects of a low-carb diet. These problems might improve after several weeks, but some people continue to struggle with digestive issues the entire time they are on this diet,’ Rachael said.
To help solve it, you may need to eat low-carb veggies that include fibre.
It is not a good idea to cut all carbs completely.
How can I safely reduce my carb intake?
While it might seem hard, there are ways in which you can safely reduce your carb intake.
Rachael said the sorts of carbs you want to avoid are those that come from refined carbs and grains, as well as sugar-sweetened drinks like fruit juice, energy drinks, sodas and flavoured coffees.
The PT recommends that you eat as many low-carb snacks as you can in a day, like hard boiled eggs, nuts and cheese.
You should also look for foods that are high in protein to keep you full, including cheese, Greek yoghurt, meat, eggs and nuts.
‘One of the best ways to limit your carb intake is to not eat them accidentally. Read food labels to understand what you’re putting into your body,’ Rachael said.
If you want to eat fewer carbs, the PT recommends you consult your doctor or GP first.
To find out more about Rachael Attard, you can visit her Instagram profile here.