Every one of us at some point in our lives, have seen something that has made us jump up and say, “Wow, I should really try that…” Although that can be fine in small doses, major changes in lifestyle, nutrition or exercise regimens can have severe side effects that one should rather go without. This can apply to almost anything and is why it’s so important to consult your family doctor or medical practitioner prior to making any of those changes.
I know some folks who woke up one morning and decided they were going to go “carb free.” Hey, that’s great and I get it. Maybe you want to lose a bit of weight. Maybe you want to get healthier and slim down so you don’t feel bloated all the time. But here’s a little secret that most people don’t seem to acknowledge: you need carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s fuel and cutting them out entirely usually isn’t healthy. Although you don’t need (nor should you) gorge yourself on carb-heavy meals several times a day, it also should be cut out completely.
Maybe you just think a new exercise routine looks wicked cool and you think it could be loads of fun. And it may be. You just need to be educated about the risks before doing so. One good example I can think of, is a couple of summers ago when I decided to break my 60-kilometre record on the bicycle for the first time. I took all my usual precautions and I had cycled for 40 and even 50 kilometres in one sitting before, so I didn’t anticipate any serious issues (blood sugars notwithstanding).
But by the time I had managed about three quarters of the total trip and was on the final stretch to home, I was struck with a sudden wave of nausea. I was starting to feel cold, despite the summer heat and I was sweating profusely. I had several litres of water on my bike and had taken a number of breaks in the shade so I had no concerns that it was heat stroke or dehydration. But by the time I got home, my entire body was racked with pain.
Turns out that even though I made efforts to stay hydrated, the heat combined with the increased water intake flushed out most of my body’s mineral salts through my sweat, causing a condition called hyponatremia. By the time I got home, I had to keep sipping Gatorade to bring up my electrolyte and mineral salts as I ate salted foods to bring my sodium levels back up. Once I felt better, I passed out and slept for a while. It was a learning experience and now I’ve adapted for it.
The key message is to educate yourself ahead of time on what you’re attempting and make sure you understand the risks as well as what changes you may have to adopt in order to make it work for you and to be safe. This can best be accomplished by speaking with a professional; a nutritionist or dietitian if you’re planning on making any significant changes in your overall diet, a fitness professional or trainer if you’re thinking about starting a new fitness routine or your doctor for just about anything else. Food for thought… ☯️