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No carb, low carb, night carbs… what’s the deal? - Blog Image

No carb, low carb, night carbs… what’s the deal?

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2019-05-31

Uncovering how to detect a client’s Non-Negotiables is one of my favorite topics.
The Non-Negotiables involve what we call Mediators in Functional Medicine.

They’re the things that we know (or can determine) make us feel better or worse. Things like avoiding gluten, or peanuts, or garlic to sidestep digestive distress, or observing a set bedtime or a daily swim or morning sun salutation to enable better resilience can all be Mediators.

Accepting that these Mediators are Non-Negotiables (meaning they are things we need to either avoid, adhere to, or include in our regular practices as much as possible) takes that knowledge we have about what helps or hurts, into action.

While there are many Non-Negotiables for each of us, recently I’ve been highlighting what I like to call the Non-Negotiable Trifecta. This Trifecta includes:

  • sleep

  • poop

  • and blood sugar balance

The Trifecta includes categories, not dictates. That’s because each of us, and each of our clients or patients, will likely have different needs within each area of the Trifecta—yet each category must be addressed for sustainable health results.

In fact, sleep, poop, and blood sugar balance are called Non-Negotiables because addressing them isn’t negotiable. They are each so critical and foundational to resolving any health issue.

We dove deep into the first Non-Negotiable — sleep — in this article.

Now it’s time to tackle Non-Negotiable #3—blood sugar balance. (I promise we’ll tackle poop, in all its glory, in a separate series.) Blood sugar balance has a lot to do with a very hot topic in the health and wellness circles… carbs.

Download a free copy of our Functional Nutrition Alliance Carb Continuum below.


The Real Deal on Carbs

There is so much (often contradictory) information about carbs. And this can be frustrating. Some dietary theories advise eliminating them almost entirely, favoring fats and proteins instead. Others say to cut way back. And some theories suggest steering clear during the day, consuming your carbs only in the evening.

So, what’s the deal? And why might the latest fad diet possibly make your symptoms worse? (Even if those same principles work for other people you know?!)

First, understand that not all carbs are created equal. Some will skyrocket your blood sugar, while others won’t. It’s not as straightforward as simply avoiding processed sugar. And to make matters more confusing, we each may react differently to different carbs.

Every carbohydrate you eat—every piece of bread, pasta, bagel, cake, cookie, muffin, fruit, vegetable, bean or grain—ultimately ends up as glucose in the blood.

blood sugar = glucose in the blood

The difference between the carbs that will send you on a blood sugar roller coaster, and those that won’t, generally comes down to the complexity of the molecules. (Hence the terms simple and complex carbohydrates.)

Simple carbohydrates move into the bloodstream rapidly, and therefore spike your blood sugar. Refined sugars are simple carbohydrates. Yet whole foods like raisins, potatoes and juices can be simple carbohydrates too.

Complex carbohydrates move into the bloodstream more slowly. That’s why these tend to have a less dramatic effect on blood sugar.

Why Carbs Matter

Ultimately it’s not about the carbs. Instead, it’s about your blood sugar balance. 

Blood sugar swings don’t just affect those with diabetes. They affect all of us. Blood sugar swings affect our hormones, our weight and weight distribution, our moods, and they leave us more susceptible to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, and autoimmune conditions like psoriasis, Hashimoto’s and more.

That’s why I created the Functional Nutrition Alliance Carb Continuum. It gives you the skinny on all carbs—and how you can stop policing your food and start befriending your balance.

Download your copy of the Carb Continuum below. You can even print it out and hang it on your fridge so your whole family can benefit too!

While we live in a low carb era, I still find that patients are confused, making decisions based on potentially biased or theoretical information. So just start here. Know your carb continuum. And get curious about your blood sugar balance! (Even though those plantain or cassava chips and tortillas are grain-free, how might their carb content be impacting you and the balance you are seeking?)


What’s Next

Your next steps are easy:
1 — Download the Functional Nutrition Alliance Carbohydrate Continuum.
2 — Read it
3 — Once you understand the different types of carbs, you can begin to track the following:

  • Do you have a pattern of eating simple carbs at certain times of the day?

  • Does your mood fluctuate with your carb intake?

  • Do you see how carb intake may be impacting your sleep patterns, or your hunger from breakfast to lunch?

Tracking will allow you to begin uncovering which carbs make you feel better, and which make you feel worse. And remember: these are some of your Mediators, and if the effects are significant enough, they also go on your list of Non-Negotiables.

Once you know your personal Non-Negotiables, you’ll be well on your way to feeling your best!

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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