Almost any diet for women would call for cutting calories.In fact, when I first got into nutrition, I had been taught to believe less calories were better for my goals after modelling for years. However, this was far from the truth.
Yes, really: Eating too little can slow your metabolism down! When you take in dramatically less energy than your body needs, your body can slow down how much fuel it uses, meaning you burn off far fewer calories than normal, which can sabotage your weight loss.
And eating too little can have other consequences on how your body functions, too. In fact, under-eating on a regular basis can lead to a number of mental, physical and emotional health issues.
Here are top signs of under eating on a diet for women who are looking to lose weight:
1. Fatigue all the time – You down a large red eye mid afternoon yet you feel like you could still go for a snooze. Calories are units of energy your body uses to function, not merely a thing you need to burn off. When you don’t eat enough calories, you’re likely to feel tired most of the time despite how many hours you sleep or how much caffeine you guzzle back.
2. Excessive soreness from workouts – You hit a fitness class or workout with a friend, just to be debilitated for a week after. Some soreness is to be expected after a hard session, but if those delayed aches linger for more than a few days, this could be your body telling you a message. Calories not only give you energy but provide you with the building blocks for recovery. Remove those key ingredients and good-bye performance. Eating around training sessions AND getting enough over the day can aid how you feel better.
3. Your period is off – Your periods late by a few days, seems like no big deal. But then you start skipping your cycle or the timing is all off, something is up. Under eating may interfere with a woman’s ability to maintain hormonal balance. Without the proper balance of reproductive hormones, pregnancy cannot take place.
4. Brittle nails and/or hair – Losing hair or breaking a nail can be very distressing. It’s normal to lose several strands of hair daily. However, if you’re noticing an increased amount of hair accumulating in your hairbrush or nails chipping more easily, it may be a sign that you’re not eating enough. Many nutrients are needed to maintain normal, healthy hair and nails growth. Inadequate intake of calories, protein, biotin, iron and other nutrients is a common cause of hair loss. Basically, when you don’t take in enough calories and key nutrients, your body will prioritize the health of your heart, brain and other organs over hair growth.
5. You are constantly thinking about food – We all love food and much of our social life revolves around it, but any diet for women would take out some of your favourite foods out of you ration. Being hungry all the time is one of the more obvious signs that you’re not eating enough food. Essentially, if your calorie intake drops too much, your body will send signals that drive you to eat in order to avoid potential starvation.
6. Sleep issues – Oddly enough, one of the first symptoms that changes when I get my clients eating a more calorically appropriate diet is a significant improvement in sleep duration and quality. Even if they weren’t necessarily waking up hungry, many of my clients find that an increased calorie intake (especially from carbohydrates) can lead them to fall asleep faster and stop waking up at night. This could be due to regulation of chemicals in your brain or more regulation of blood sugars, with multiple reasons existing.
7. Irritability – Have you ever heard the term “hangry” before? This refers to the state of anger and irritability resulting from being hungry. And even though it’s a made up term, there’s actually scientific evidence for the existence of this volatile emotional state caused by inadequate food intake.
8. Feeling the chills all the time – If you constantly feel cold, not eating enough food could be the cause. Your body needs to burn a certain number of calories in order to create heat and maintain a healthy, comfortable body temperature. In fact, even mild calorie restriction has been shown to lower core body temperature.
9. Irregularity with your daily bowel movements – There are a few reasons why chronic under eating can cause constipation. The most obvious is that feces is made up of waste matter from the digestion of food, so if you’re not getting enough food, your stool won’t have much bulk to it. Another explanation is that your thyroid goes a little wonky which controls movement of your digestive tract.
10. Lack of progress in the gym – You might be surprised to hear that I’ve never had a weight loss client who was actually overeating. In fact, many of my clients come to me on extremely low calorie diets (around 1000-1200 calories per day) combined with 6-7 days per week of intense exercise like Crossfit or long distance running. Your body does not like major, drastic changes, and it will make modifications to your thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones in order to reduce your overall caloric output. Thus, it will fight against your efforts to make change to your body.
11. Anxiety – If little things have begun to set you off through a panic of worry, it could be related to not eating enough. Many neurochemicals in our brains are direct results of our food intake. Prolonged low calorie intake and restrictive eating patterns have been linked to heightened anxiety, particularly carb intake.
Although overeating increases the risk of developing health problems, under eating can also be problematic. This is especially true with severe or chronic calorie restriction that unfortunately accompanies many a diet for women.
A sound diet for women is not about cutting calories – it’s about getting you fitter in the most comfortable way. Book a free consultation with me to figure out the best nutrition strategy that would help you lose weight and stay healthy year round.