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Carbohydrates are nutrients that provide energy for the body to perform day-to-day activities. They help build immunity, maintain healthy vision, promote growth and development. They are widely present in most sources of food for all living organisms. The body converts 100 percent of the carbohydrates into glucose to generate energy for bodily functions. This makes carbohydrate an important nutrient.

In case of deficiency of carbohydrates in the body, proteins are broken down to extract energy because the body is unable to derive enough sugar from carbohydrates. This leaves no supply proteins required for growth and development and ketones are formed in the liver. Normally, the body converts glucose obtained from carbohydrates into fuel. When there are no carbohydrates available for this process, it starts burning body fat after 3 days. In a few days, the body gets used to not having carbohydrate to produce energy but there is a tremendous dip in the graph of brain activity due to lack of fuel.

Causes

It is a simple answer. If you cut out the intake of carbohydrates from your diet, you will suffer from its deficiency. Listen to your body, it will start showing symptoms of carbohydrate deficiency.

Symptoms

The side-effects of this deficiency cannot be zeroed in on a few. Since functions of carbohydrates are vital for our body, a lack of it can cause many short-term as well as long-term detrimental effects like:
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Muscle cramps
  • Excessive fatigue and exhaustion
  • Poor brain functioning
  • Increase in fat percentage of the body
  • Loss of sodium in the body
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Frequent headaches
  • Loss of water content in the body
Brain derives its energy of blood sugar, obtained from carbohydrates, to perform mental activities. It requires twice as much energy as required by other cells in your body to function because your neurons work continuously even while you are sleeping. When facing a deficiency of carbohydrate, the brain will not function well and this may result in memory loss, lack of concentration power and learning ability. Prolonged periods of carb deficiency can also lead to paralysis and/or epilepsy.

Eliminating all sources of carbohydrates from your diet will also lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency because these dietary components are found in the same foods. They are necessary not just to keep up the body's overall health, but also to support its metabolism. Hence the lack of carbohydrates will also lead to high risk of diabetes, cardiac problems and obesity.

Cure and Remedies

Deficiency of carbohydrates can be mainly dealt with by including rich sources of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates are mainly found in plant sources of food like whole grains and its products, potatoes and sugar. In animal sources, they are found in a significant quantity only in dairy products. Simple carbohydrates found in starch from fruits, vegetables and legumes release energy over a period of time and, thus, stay in your system for a longer duration and control hunger. However, simple carbohydrates found in pasta and bread release sugar into the blood instantly and provide energy to the body. However, the downside of simple carbohydrates is that they make you feel hungry quickly.

Your minimum daily intake of carbohydrates should be at least 50 g to 100 g. However, the daily recommended intake of carbohydrate for women is 177 g and for men is 287 g. A low carbohydrate diet typically contains less than 144 g. However, this is still not a satisfactory figure for the body to function normally.

Health experts reckon that at least 15% of your total calorie intake in a day should be obtained from carbohydrates. So, if you plan to adopt the Atkins diet like 20 million other people in this world, I suggest you make some modifications, make it a low-carbohydrate diet instead of a no-carbohydrate diet and drink plenty of water to make up for water loss that you might mistake as weight loss. A 'healthy' diet will never make you feel sick.