This Is How Your Body Is Likely To Respond If You Reduce The Amount Of Carbohydrates In Your Diet

If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, there are numerous routines out there that could get the job done. On that note, one of the more popular ideas suggests that cutting carbohydrates from your diet can help you lose weight pretty quickly. But should you abandon that particular food group, you might be surprised by your body’s reaction.

For a while now, certain people have cast a disparaging eye over carbohydrates and their apparent effect on the human body. It could be argued that eating regimens such as the Atkins diet and keto diet have both played a role in that. Indeed, the two routines encourage individuals to cut back drastically on carbs.

But why do carbohydrates have such a bad reputation today? To offer some insight, a dietitian named Ilana Muhlstein sat down to talk with the Aaptiv website. According to her, certain carbs can be detrimental to our bodies when we ignore the “good” ones for a prolonged period of time.

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“Carbohydrates are broken down into three types: sugar, starches, and fiber,” Muhlstein said. “Sugars and starches simply all convert to sugars, which spike and drop our blood sugar and energy levels. Fiber, thankfully, is the third category of carbs that helps mend this blood sugar spike to give us more sustained and controlled energy that our brains and muscles can utilize efficiently.”

Simply put, it’s a balancing act that can be easily thrown off kilter and lead to some potential health issues. However, as we mentioned earlier, removing all the carbohydrates in your kitchen could spark a number of different reactions inside your body. And whether they’re good or bad, you’re sure to notice the signs.

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Here’s something else to consider as well. As reported by the Insider website, the Recommended Dietary Allowance dictates that a person should eat 130 grams’ worth of carbs every 24 hours. That’s the equivalent of more than 500 calories.

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Keeping that in mind, Aaptiv claims that a standard daily helping of carbohydrates usually makes up around half of your suggested calorie intake. So, that might explain why certain individuals believe that they can shed some pounds by abandoning the food group altogether. And one expert in the field admitted that this approach could work.

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The expert in question is Frida Harju-Westman, who at the time plied her trade as a nutritionist for the Lifesum application. She focused on this particular subject during an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine back in April 2018. But Harju-Westman revealed that the dropped weight could in fact be tied to the amount of water in your body’s system.

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“Diets high in sodium and insulin-promoters, like refined carbs, forces the body to store more water inside and in between cells than the body needs,” Harju-Westman explained. “This retained water can amount to 10 to 20 pounds, depending on your diet. When you cut carbs, the body will rid itself of this water, resulting in weight loss.”

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With regards to Harju-Westman’s first point, you might be wondering what a “refined” carbohydrate is. Well, the food group is separated into two different categories, with the former consisting of items such as pasta, white bread and rice. Meanwhile, “complex” carbs like oats, lentils, barley and fruit are said to be better for your body.

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Muhlstein concurred, and she offered up an example to Aaptiv. She said, “You could be eating a high-carb diet containing lots of fiber-less fruit juice, crackers, bread and candy, and still be showing some signs that you aren’t getting enough good-for-you carbs. [Those include] whole grains, fruits, beans, legumes and starchy vegetables.”

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However, while cutting refined carbohydrates from your eating regimen can have a positive effect at first, Harju-Westman had a warning to share, too. According to the food expert, the pounds will likely return after a certain period due to the non-carb items in your diet. Specifically, she blamed fatty products.

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“It’s common for those who cut carbs to replace their starches with high-fat foods such as nuts, avocados and cheese,” Harju-Westman told Cosmopolitan. “There’s nothing wrong with high-fat foods, and they are essential to your diet. Keep in mind, though, that fats are more calorie dense than carbs and so they need to be eaten in moderation.”

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Dietitian Samantha Hass agreed with Harju-Westman’s assessment when she sat down to talk with Aaptiv. Haas worked at the time for F-Factor, a service that pushes the idea that fiber can help you shed excess weight. And during her conversation with the website, she made a startling point about fatty foods.

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“Fat has more than double the calories per gram than protein and carbs,” Hass said. “[And] some protein sources are high in fat and therefore extremely caloric [as well]. If you are replacing carbs with high-fat protein and fat, you may end up consuming more calories and therefore gain weight.”

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While that’s something you need to consider when cutting down on carbohydrates, let’s go back to the F-Factor’s fiber suggestion. For you see, both the Eat This, Not That! website and Harju-Westman concurred that helpings of the complex carb could indeed reduce weight. It would only work, though, if the refined options were dropped from your diet.

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Eat This, Not That! reported that a person’s hunger doesn’t subside when they consume food that’s full of calories. Instead, they should look to certain nutrients to make the feeling go away. Fiber is one example, so by adding more of that to their diets, they’re less likely to want additional snacks throughout the day.

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To expand on that point, Harju-Westman told Cosmopolitan, “Refined carbs lack essential nutrients such as fiber, protein and healthy fats. [They] instead fuel the body with fast calories and sugar highs. If the body is lacking nutrients, it will never feel full and satisfied, thus the constant cravings [for food].”

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Harju-Westman continued, “It follows, then, that if you cut out refined carbs and replace them with healthy and nutrient filled foods or complex carbs, you will eat less and feel full for longer.” But for those who’ve decided to eliminate both types of carbohydrates from their diet, a different problem could await them.

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Indeed, your digestive system can go through some uncomfortable periods without complex carbohydrates. Carrie Dennett, a dietitian who founded the Nutrition by Carrie website, outlined a few of the symptoms you could experience while speaking to Aaptiv. Alongside that, she offered up a simple solution to the problem as well.

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“If you’re not eating many carbs, you’re not eating much fiber, either,” Dennett explained. “This can lead to bloating, constipation and other digestive distress.” To combat the issue, she suggested that at least 30 grams’ worth of the nutrient every day should keep things ticking over in your stomach, with Hass agreeing.

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Moreover, if you get the balance right between fiber intake and a decrease in refined carbohydrates, you could be in line for another benefit. As per Eat This, Not That!, your stomach might become a lot slimmer. The website reported that “healthy gut microbes” are responsible for maintaining a flat midriff, as they consume the aforementioned nutrient.

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However, when fiber disappears from your diet and is replaced by refined carbs, the microbes’ “unhealthy” counterparts come into play. The latter rely on sugar for their sustenance, which leads to an inflated stomach. Dennett touched upon that point again with Aaptiv, as she highlighted the importance of the healthy germs.

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“Our beneficial gut microbes rely on fermentable carbohydrates to survive and thrive,” Dennett told the fitness website. “And those carbs come from whole grains, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables. If we want to be healthy, it’s essential that we nurture our gut microbes with good food from quality carbs.”

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In addition, Harju-Westman shed some light on another problem that comes with dropping carbohydrates from your eating regimen. According to the nutritionist, your breath could start to emit an unwanted smell. That’s partly due to the water weight that gets shifted from your body.

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Harju-Westman explained, “As you cut carbs out of your diet, and the body is ridding itself of the excess water weight, it is common to experience a case of dry mouth. [But] when you cut carbs, your body [also] enters a state called ketosis, which is when your body starts to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.”

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“In addition to being released throughout the body, ketosis is released through your breath,” Harju-Westman added. “And [it] can result in a fruity smell or, in extreme cases, the smell of nail polish remover.” Those who practice the keto diet might be familiar with this, although Hass brought up another group.

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Speaking to the Aaptiv website, Hass said, “[Bad breath] was a common issue for followers of the Atkins diet back in the day. When your diet is lacking in carbs, [your body] starts [to produce] ketones. Acetone, one of the ketones, causes your breath to smell like nail polish remover.”

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Away from that, if you have fewer carbohydrates in your system, you’ll have a lower risk of developing diabetes in the future. As Muhlstein stated earlier, refined carbs raise the amount of sugar in your blood. Due to that, the pancreas creates excess insulin – and this can spark the disorder.

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However, if you’ve been consuming refined carbohydrates for a decent length of time, that might not be the easiest change to make. Indeed, Harju-Westman told Cosmopolitan that sugary foods are very difficult to give up. As for why that’s the case, she referred to a shocking study from back in 2017.

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“Sugar is highly addictive and extremely hard to quit,” Harju-Westman noted to the magazine. “In fact, in a review published in the British Medical Journal last year, the authors argued that there are ‘substantial parallels and overlap between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behavior.’”

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Despite all that, though, Harju-Westman then offered some comforting words to those who might be struggling. In her opinion, the so-called addiction to refined carbs can be conquered. She added, “If you stick it out, your body will adapt, and soon you will prefer an apple over the chocolate chip cookie.”

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Elsewhere, Eat This, Not That! claimed that your body’s muscles could benefit from a decrease in refined carbohydrates, too. According to the website, the absence of protein in the latter doesn’t help the tissues’ growth. Not only that, but your nails, hair and skin also feed off the nutrient, so they’re in a similar position.

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But if you replace the refined carbohydrates with protein-packed food items, then your body will receive the goodness it requires. The nutrition website suggested that products such as ice cream, burgers and steaks would serve that particular purpose when hunger strikes. And Harju-Westman spoke of another downside to low-carb diets during her talk with Cosmopolitan.

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“Your body stores carbs in the form of glycogen,” Harju-Westman said. “Which is easily absorbed in the bloodstream and is your brain’s energy source. That means, when you run out of carbs, your mind will need some time to adjust and you will feel tired, as well as experiencing physical fatigue.”

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“As explained before, it will be important to incorporate high-fat foods in moderation to help the body produce fuel from healthy fats rather than sugary carbs,” Harju-Westman continued. If you’re an athlete practicing high-intensity exercise, cutting carbs can take a toll on your endurance. So high-fat foods and protein will be even more important.”

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Dennett expanded on one of those points when she outlined how important glycogen was to the human brain. “Your brain depends on glucose from carbs as its main fuel,” the dietitian told Aaptiv. “It takes up only two percent of your body weight, but uses 20 percent of available glucose.”

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The mental weariness that comes from a lack of carbohydrates can also be confused with the onset of a bad cold. Instead, symptoms of that type are usually a sign of “carb flu.” And while it might take its toll on you at first, Harju-Westman insisted that it’s nothing to worry about.

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“Perhaps one of the most common side effects of cutting carbs is the flu-like symptoms including a headache, nausea, and exhaustion,” Harju-Westman told Cosmopolitan. “This is completely normal, and can be minimized by ensuring that your body is hydrated. Drink eight glasses of water per day, and if [they don’t] go away after two to four days, you might need to reassess your diet.”

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On that note, Harju-Westman then made a final point during her talk with the publication. The nutritionist concluded, “[Hair loss] is especially common when restricting the intake of sugar and carbs. It will normally occur about three months following the start of your new diet.” Thankfully, though, the damage to your follicles isn’t permanent.

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