The low-carb craze is going strong. Bread is out. Pasta is overrated. And dieters are experimenting with how low their carb intake can go. But grains are anything but all the same. So whether you are cutting out refined grains, whole grains, or carbs in general, the effects can vary widely. Here’s a look at the wide array of things that happen when you ditch the bread bags:
You lose water weight
When you reduce your carb intake, the first thing you notice is how quickly, even magically, the weight falls off. But it’s not fat you’re losing. It’s water. “When carbs are stored in the body in the form of glycogen, each gram of carbohydrate stores three to four times its weight in water,“ says dietitian and strength coach Marie Spano, R.D., C.S.C.S. So as soon as you cut carbs and start using your glycogen stores, you’ll lose a good amount of water weight.
You catch low-carb flu
“Carbs are the brain’s main source of energy,” says Spano. “When a person cuts down on carbs, the brain is running on fumes, especially as glycogen stores get low and become depleted.” Eventually, once all that glycogen is gone, your body breaks down fat and runs off of little carbon fragments called ketones. The result: bad breath, dry mouth, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and brain fog. Basically, you feel like you have the flu. Eventually, your body adapts to running on ketones so you don’t feel so bad, but they are still aren’t your body’s preferred fuel source, says Spano.
Your cravings subside
Refined carbohydrates are infamous for sending your blood-sugar levels through the roof, only for them to crash back down again. And recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the rollercoaster ride activates addiction centers in the brain, leading to subsequent cravings. Opting for fiber-rich whole grains, though, can keep blood-sugar levels from plummeting to prevent cravings, says nutritionist Alex Caspero, R.D., owner of Delicious Knowledge.
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