Pizza, french fries, cake and ice cream; what do they all have in common? Yes, I know they're all delicious. I mean apart from that. That's right: they're all examples of carbohydrates, which mean they're all great for being broken down into glucose, which gives your body the energy it needs to go out and get more food.
They get a bit of a bad rep sometimes, but carbs are undeniably a good thing. That being said, you can have too much of a good thing, and when that happens, it might not be so easy to identify. Feeling a little off, or battling with these little health problems? You could be eating too many carbs.
1. You're hungry all the time
Are you constantly hungry, with an appetite no pizza nor combo meal at McDonald's could satisfy? While I don't blame you for eating as much as you can (life is short, after all), a constant, insatiable hunger is a sign that you're eating too many carbs, and not enough protein or fat. "If you're eating too many carbs, you might be cutting yourself short on fat and protein. Foods that contain fat and/or protein (nuts, seeds, beans, soy, fish) take longer to digest, so they can create feelings of fullness and satisfaction for longer periods of time," says Ashlea Braun, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
2. Your mood is all over the place
We've all been there. One minute, you're on top of the world and nobody can stop you from doing you want to do in life. The next, you're glaring daggers at children you pass in the street, and resisting the urge to murder anyone who so much as looks at you the wrong way. Maybe you're having a bad day, but you could also be suffering from mood swings, another indication you're eating too many carbs. "This may differ from person to person, but if you're eating too many carbs (and again, the wrong kind of carbs) you may experience highs and lows in your mood," reveals Braun. The wrong kind of carbs lead to huge spikes and crashes in your blood sugar, and this is the reason you fluctuate moods so violently.
3. You're constantly craving sugar
It's far from uncommon to have a bit of a sweet tooth, but if that sweet tooth is turning into an entire set of sweet teeth, it might be time to check on your carb intake. Here's the thing: eating something sweet triggers the brain to release dopamine into your system, which is why you feel better after binging on a whole box of chocolates. Unfortunately, this can easily become addictive. "A diet high in refined carbohydrates (aka processed baked goods and white breads) can put your blood sugars out of whack and make you crave more refined carbs (like those cookies, candy, etc.)," explains registered dietitian Elizabeth Ann Shaw, who also runs the website Simple Swaps.
4. You're constantly tired
Are you getting enough sleep and remembering to hydrate, yet constantly having to stifle yawns, even after meals? This could be a sign that your body is getting overloaded with carbs, which leads to a sugar crash that leaves you feeling exhausted. "Your body burns through refined carbs (things like sugar, white bread, white pasta) really quickly, leading to short bursts of energy followed by a 'crash' and feelings of fatigue or sluggishness," says Braun.
If most of your waking moments feel like someone's drilling a hole in your head, it's probably time to check your carbohydrate intake. Running coach and personal trainer Susie Lemmer explains that when you're eating too many carbs on a regular basis, one of the ways in which this can manifest is with headaches and migraines. If you're not careful, this can really mess up your day.
6. Skin problems
Are you suddenly breaking out in acne, even though you're a grown adult? No, you're not aging backwards into puberty, you might just be having a little too much bread with your pasta. A study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology says that there's a definite link between acne and high refined carb consumption. If you're eating mostly refined carbs like white bread, chips or sugary food, then you're more likely to have skin problems. Cut down on the desserts for a while, and see if your skin clears up.
7. Brain fog
Sometimes, it can be difficult to concentrate on the task in front of you. You've got a thousand stresses, you're not sleeping well and you're dehydrated, but if none of those apply to you, then keep an eye on your carb intake. Decreased cognitive function is a possible sign you're having too many carbs in a day, with osteopathic physician Dr Joseph Mercola saying that overeating carbs could lead to permanent cognitive decline: "Your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage."
8. Poor digestion
Feeling bloated? Or gassy? Or does every trip to the bathroom result in a depressing journey into the depths of your own madness and bowel movement? Poor digestion could be due to a number of things, but maybe swap out the french fries for Chicken McNuggets and see if you feel a difference. Eating too many carbs can make it difficult for your body to smooth out that belly, or effectively break down the particles you're shoving relentlessly into your face hole.
Well, there we go, folks. At any given point, we're unlikely to feel 100 percent, but always pay attention to your body for signs you can change things up. It could be a diet problem this time, but the next time, it could be a serious disease. Stay ahead of your health, folks.