Under eating, are you guilty of it? As I work one-on-one with nutrition clients and coach individuals through the 21 Day Sugar Detox I have noticed how many people are under eating when trying to reach health and fitness related goals. Many times, under eating is done unintentionally and other times I believe people think if they eat less or “diet” harder they will get better results and reach their goals quicker. Frequently, when people decide to make changes with their nutrition they start cutting out processed and packaged food. They begin choosing fresher and unprocessed foods. When you trade processed foods for fresh veggies, protein and healthy fats, the amount of food you have to eat can feel overwhelming in comparison. The amount of food you should be eating depends on several factors such as age, weight, height, gender, activity level and overall general health.
Signs that you are undereating:
- Your weight loss efforts have stalled and you actually find that you are gaining weight. Undereating can cause hormone imbalances which can cause your metabolism to slow down. Even a small increase in your caloric intake can have a positive effect on your hormone levels. Increasing the amount of food you eat can raise your leptin levels. Leptin is the hormone that triggers fullness. It can also decrease your ghrelin levels, the hormone associated with hunger. Increasing your overall calories also helps balance your thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in your metabolism, which is how your body converts food into energy.
- You are short on energy and feeling weak. When you are not providing your body with enough calories or fuel from food your body actually goes into “starvation mode”. When this happens, your body eats through its storage of glycogen. Glycogen are the carbohydrates stored in the muscle and used during anaerobic activity. Your body also starts to eat away at muscle to provide it with energy, it does this before it attacks your fat storage! All of this can cause blood sugar imbalances, cause you to feel tired, weak, sluggish and “hangry”.
- Your Digestion is “off”. When your body is in energy conservation mode everything slows down, including your digestion. This can lead to damage to the intestinal lining, which makes digesting food more difficult. When this happens, you may experience diarrhea and/or constipation along with other health complications.
- You are deficient in important nutrients. When you restrict calories and under eat, you risk becoming deficient in several nutrients. When you under eat you are not providing your body with the necessary nutrients it needs to properly perform. Your meals should contain a variety of vegetables, healthy fats and quality proteins to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs.
- You find yourself restricting, restricting and then binging. If you are not eating enough and depriving your body of essential nutrients you may find it difficult to stick to your “diet”. Deprivation can lead to resenting your diet, feeling hungry, and derail you from reaching your goals. To successfully reach your health and nutrition related goals you should focus on making lifestyle changes that can be sustainable long-term.
The effects of undereating:
- Slow metabolism
- Decrease in muscle
- Fertility Issues
- Low Blood Sugar
- Mood swings
- Poor Circulation
- Digestive issues
- Cardiovascular problems
- Dry skin
- Much more
In the long run, underrating will work against you, your health and your goals. I recommend figuring out your basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy/calories your body needs to function at rest. This can be done through many different sites online. Then, I recommend tracking your current food intake by logging what you are eating in a tracking system. You can do this through apps such as My Fitness Pal and Macros +. Doing this will provide you with information such as, Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat grams and total calories. Determine if you are eating enough food to fuel your body for your goals. The amount of food and the breakdown of your macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) will be individual to your needs and your goals. The main takeaway here is that undereating is not sustainable long-term, it will not help you reach your goals, and can lead to many health problems.
If you are interested in learning more about how eating the right amount of the right foods will help you reach your goals sign up for a free 15-minute consultation with me. I just launched a new Macros Program! Contact me today to discuss if my new Macros Program is right for you.
Jamey Floreck, NTP, CPT
Legal Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only, and it has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any conditions or disease, nor is it medical advice. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle changes.
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