Confused? I don’t blame you!
What’s important to remember is that severe restriction of carbs may actually be contributing to your hormone fluctuations from insufficient energy intake and interrupting how your pituitary gland and hypothalamus talk to one another AND all carbs are not the same.
Let’s start with WHY carbs are essential for hormone health
Your body has a preference for which type of fuel it prefers to burn; and that ladies, are carbohydrates. This is based on the simple physiology that carbohydrates (compared to fat or protein) are broken down and utilised for fuel in the most efficient and effective way, and that’s what powers you to function at your best. All day, most days.
When you either restrict or severely limit your carbohydrate intake, your body has no alternative but to find another way to fuel it’s operation. The body switches to burning fat (which you may think is a good thing) however simultaneously, decreases its metabolic rate to conserve energy as best as it can. So, by limiting your carbohydrate foods - you’re actually doing the opposite of what you want your body to do!
How does this affect my hormones?
When your metabolism has been suppressed, your body thinks it’s living in a compromised state and theoretically is working under stress. Stress promotes higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones) which, increase inflammation in your body. Elevated cortisol levels drives your body to seek sugary foods as a way to instantly provide energy to repair stress damage - and so the vicious cycle continues!
The key to avoid getting into this pickle, is eating enough carbohydrates to match your energy needs as well as the right types of carbohydrates.
What do you mean the RIGHT type of carbs?
Let’s get our terminology right - I like to think about carbs as the umbrella term for all sugary and starchy foods.
Both starchy and sugary foods breakdown into single sugar molecules that are absorbed and transported around the body via your bloodstream to your brain and muscles where it is used for energy. When your brain and muscles are adequately fed, there is no need to send out panic signals to your pituitary glands that something is wrong.
In order to achieve this steady and stable flow of energy to your brain, it's important to remember to choose carbohydrates foods that are:
Ideally, a slow, steady breakdown of carbohydrates in your body every few hours (eg. at meal times) helps your body to stay regulated without having to combat drastic spikes or falls of regulatory hormones like insulin (required for sugar uptake in your muscles), ghrelin (hunger hormone) or dopamine (happy hormone that can be triggered with excess amounts of sugar).
Eating foods that have higher amounts of fibre supports a slower digestion time and a steady release of energy into your bloodstream. This also means feeling fuller for longer which reduces the need to crave more food.
Below is list of common foods that contain carbohydrates, divided into categories that.
An added bonus of eating high fibre foods is that they generally have high levels of B group vitamins and Vitamin C to help with improving your immunity and reducing inflammation. This means your body able to stay fit to fight off viruses and infections whilst maintaining a happy and harmonious hormone profile.
If you've been feeling lethargic and need guidance on how to incorporate the right carbs for you, drop me a message on my contact page and let's chat!
The way to Carla's heart is all things food. Follow her thoughts and opinions on the latest food news and myths.