Women, I'm talking to you.
We now know that eating too low-carb for too long can cause significant disruptions to many hormones.
Because super low-carb diets can significantly disrupt hormone production, women with too-low carb intakes - especially active women - can face:
a stopped or irregular menstrual cycle
hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings
increased body fat (specifically midsection)
loss of bone density
anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
chronic inflammation and worse chronic pain
chronic fatigue and disrupted sleep
Bottom Line: KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don't overly restrict. Don't over-think it. In other words...
Eat real foods. Enjoy a wide variety of minimally processes, whole and fresh foods.
Observe how you look, feel, and perform. The only "rules" come from your body and your experience.
And above all, for most active people, carbs are your friend!
Carbohydrates are the body's preferred fuel source. When exercise intensity increases, so does your body's demand for more carbohydrates. When your liver is depleted of its carb resources, it will then begin to make it on its own, typically from glycogen (stored in your muscles).
The problem with never eating carbs:
Slowed metabolism, resulting in decreased fat burn due to decreased thyroid output.
Increased cortisol levels, causing excessive stress and increased fat storage.
Impaired mood and cognitive function
Loss of muscle mass (muscle catabolism)
Suppressed immune function
In other words: your metabolism might slow, your stress hormones go up, and your muscle-building hormones go down. You then feel lousy, spaced-out, sluggish, cranky... and maybe even sick.
If you're active, you need adequate energy and carb intake for a healthy thyroid. Our thyroid is the master metabolic regulator in the body. Poor thyroid health = poor metabolism :(
Research consistently shows that people who exercise regularly need to eat enough carbs or their testosterone will fall while their cortisol levels rise. This is a sure-fire recipe for losing muscle and gaining fat.
Thus, inadequate carbohydrate intake can decrease testosterone, increase cortisol while negatively affecting performance (which no one wants).
Aim to add one (women) or two (men) handfuls of fibrous whole grains, rice, or vegetables to each meal.
Need more assistance in figuring out how much carbs you should be having, Nutrition Coaching might be right for you!