Diet & Nutrition

I gave up carbs for a week and this is the brutal reality of what it's like

And yes. Hangry is definitely a thing...

By Anita Lyons
Hi. My name is Anita and I'm a carb-oholic.
I discovered this during a very tense first week in what feels like the longest 12-Week Transformation challenge of my life - and believe me when I tell you, cutting out carbs is HARD!
I'm of Spanish European descent, so I'm practically half paella and half leche flan - so when I was tasked with cutting carbs out for an entire seven days, I was not...optimistic.
As a woman with many curves, and one who is now on the other side of 33, a 12-Week Transformation of the mind, body and soul felt like a fantastic idea.
Get fit, feel healthy and above all - have a love of my body that has been missing for three decades.
And because sometimes we need to ask for help, I enlisted the expertise of the trainers at Rushcutters Health and Fitness, who would help me on my journey to health enlightenment.
This journey, not emotionally dissimilar to that of a lovesick girl on The Bachelor, would get me back on track, get me moving and eating right, without alcohol (at least for the first 28-days) - starting with week one. The loss of my loves, carbs.
Carbs. Precious carbs. (Source: Getty Images)
Sensing my hesitation, my new personal trainer and Director of Rushcutters Health, Nicholas Chapman, assured me that there is a very good reason why we cut carbs in the first week.
"Firstly, most people are way over consuming carbohydrates -especially in the form of sugar," Nick said.
"And by moving to a diet that's primary based around vegetables, lean proteins and quality fats, we are moving people into a more 'normal' daily intake of carbs.
In fact, when you eat three - four good serves of veggies, most people will actually consume 50-100gms of carbohydrates per day, which, according to Nick, is actually plenty considering the average activity levels and training intensities."
"Moving to a more normal range of carb consumption re-balances normal hormone function," he added, "and this allows glucogen (a fat release hormone) to be produced at times during the day when energy is needed to be metabolised as fat to use as fuel."
When we eat highly-processed foods (sugars, cakes, ice-cream - all of the fun stuff), the fat loss hormone never gets a chance to be produced.
"Reducing your carb intake makes it easier to achieve a caloric deficit," Nick said. "Initially by working to make this change to your nutrition you cut out most of the food choices."
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Story continues...
So, how did I fare?
Well, at first, my brain felt like it was functioning 100000 times slower speed than normal, and frankly, the fatigue was next level - but this, as Nick told me, was not because of the carbs - it was because I was detoxing.
And guys, if you didn't think "hangry" existed, try cutting carbs for a week, because batten down the hatches, Cyclone Hangry Anita was ripping through and it was a punish!
During this time, Nick told me to up my intake in water, as fatigue comes from dehydration - and that brain fog? Totally normal!
"The brain is the only organ in the body that needs glycogen (sugar) to survive," Nick said. "This is where the argument stems from 'reducing carbs = reduced brain function'."
"For your brain to function at a significantly lower speed, your carb intake would need to be zero. This means eating no vegetables at all! In reality, no one eats like this. There are always carbs present."
One week done. 1.8kg lost. And no processed food. (Source: Supplied)
But these side effects didn't last forever (well, maybe except the hunger, because I dreamt about eating a pack of Doritos) - as the week went on, my mood and energy increased. I actually found it easier to go for 30-40 minutes walks and still have energy.
It was only when my water intake was low that my energy decreased, so that was a huge lesson learned.
In fact, I also noticed another huge difference.
My skin was clearing up. The pores were closing - could I be...glowing?
I also found that in this first week, my face became slimmer, my tummy shrunk (this is the place where I store most of my fat) and frankly, I began to feel like Nick was on to something here.
Oh, and if you're a numbers gal - I stepped on the scales and lost a whopping 1.8kg!
So while the side effects were brutal at first, the long-term effects are already starting to shine through - and to be honest? It's the BEST feeling!

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