Not eating enough can not only hold you back from reaching your fitness goals, but also affects other other aspects of your health & wellness.
In this post, I dive into some areas that you might not have thought about being affected by the amount of food you eat.
In the fitness industry it is common practice to follow the advice to "eat less & move more" if you have a weight loss goal, or to "reduce the amount of carbs you eat" if you want to stay lean all year around. These are just a couple of the various pieces of advice we are given when it comes to the necessary combo of nutrition and exercise.
But in a world where we are always trying to: reduce, decrease, eat less, not have as much of, etc...there is an aspect that we are missing here. The aspect that we NEED TO EAT ENOUGH FOOD TO FUEL OUR BODIES.
Now, I'm not saying that calorie reduction for weight loss doesn't work. Because for the portion of the population that consumes excess calories and has an extremely sedentary lifestyle, that technique does often work. And I'm not saying that reducing processed carbs (like pasta and breads) doesn't work to help you stay leaner over time. Because it is frequently a successful technique for many people.
What I'm saying is that there are MANY OTHER aspects of our lives and health, outside of weight loss and body fat percentage, that are affected by not eating enough food, and that is what I want to point out to you!
Keep in mind these two things:
1. Our body's have a baseline amount of calories that need to be met every day (this is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate). And chances are, if you're having these 5 signs, you're only eating enough to barely meet that demand, or not enough to meet the demand at all.
2. It is NECESSARY that your daily calorie intake is comprised of whole foods that are nutrient dense. This means fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and protein dense grains. Reducing processed foods, premade meals, sugar laden treats and drinks, as well as take out and fast food is essential for your health and meeting your fitness goals.
Alright, let's get into these 5 SIGNS YOU AREN'T EATING ENOUGH FOOD, and please forward & share this article with other women that you know that could be suffering from some of these symptoms due to not eating enough food during the day!!
#1 - You aren't getting quality sleep (and you don't have a newborn!)
If you're a Mom, what's the likelihood you're living that COFFEE LIFE? I know, I will be buried with my coffee cup filled with that elixir of life, trust that. However, if you're frequently reaching for that 3pm coffee to "help you" get through the rest of the afternoon, dinner, bath time and the bedtime routine, then this could be impacting your sleep. Especially if you are more sensitive to caffeine.
But the reason you might be reaching for that caffeine boost is because you're actually not eating enough food, and your need for energy is related to be in a calorie deficit, versus the actual need for the coffee.
Maintaining enough calories on a daily basis prevents your blood sugar from dropping too low, disrupting your sleep cycles and the quality of sleep you're getting. Ever feel like you wake up exhausted after 8 hours of sleep? Does that happen to correspond with you eating less the day or multiple days before?
TIP: Start replacing your afternoon coffee with some fresh fruit and yogurt, or a healthy protein drink and see how you feel!
#2 - It takes days to recover after exercise
Your body needs these 3 macronutrients: Proteins, Fats, & Carbs for effective recovery after exercise. They're a pretty big deal. They help replenish energy, rebuild muscles and help reduce muscle soreness. If your calorie intake of high quality foods is too low, this process is elongated causing you to feel fatigued and unable to consistently exercise. Not to mention, if you're feeling sore for multiple days on end after exercise, this is a big sign that you didn't consume enough food to aid in post exercise recovery.
TIP: Start adding in a well balanced snack or post exercise drink after your workout. Make sure that you have a component of all 3 macronutrients to aid in recovery and keep you on track for your next workout.
Here is a great recipe for you to give a try that meets all your Macros! Easy Protein Smoothie
#3 - You're not reaching your fitness goals
After reading #1 & #2, this one falls naturally in line. Whether that goal be gaining muscle, losing weight, consistently exercising throughout the week, etc...you simply won't meet those goals if you're not eating enough quality food. Simply put, there is a cycle involved in reaching your fitness goals: exercise, eat, sleep...repeat. Eating fuels the body to recover. Sleep is part of recovery. Food is part of recovery. Recovery is necessary for being able to exercise again the next day....see the cycle that puts you on the road to reaching your fitness goals!?
#4 - All you can think about is food
If you've ever done any sort of calorie restricted diet, there's a pretty good chance that you were constantly thinking about food. And most likely from the standpoint of your body NEEDING more calories and you not listening to what your body was telling you. Tuning into these cues from your body and eating when it's hungry (like legit hungry, when your stomach does that little feed me growl), and eating to your body's fullness will help ease your mind and reduce the thoughts of wanting something to eat. And hold you over until you become hungry later on.
TIP: Make sure that all of your meals and snacks are well rounded, satiating and meant to keep you full. This means having a component of all 3 macronutrients: Proteins, Fats, & Carbs.
#5 - You have frequent headaches and lethargy
I eluded to this aspect at the very beginning. Your body has a baseline need for regular bodily functions (to maintain homeostasis). That's all the things that your body has to do in order to stay alive. Things like your heart beating, your kidney's functioning, etc. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), but maybe you've also heard it called your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) or just your metabolism. If you are chronically low on calories for extended periods of time, that number decreases to meet the amount it is given. Side effects are lethargy, exhaustion, mental fatigue, low level nagging headache.
Increasing the amount of whole foods you're eating and staying hydrated can help reduce all of these symptoms!
I hope that after reading through all of these signs that you're not eating enough food, now you see how they all relate. This is a cycle that often starts with food, however has a lot of big components like sleep, recovery, etc. Tuning in to what you're eating and how much can help you feel great and reach the fitness goals you have! Share this with a friend that you think would find some value in this info!
If you're interested in taking your nutrition to the next level, or you're just starting out with improving what you're eating and need help calculating your ideal daily intake...reach out to me! I offer Nutrition Consults, Goal Setting and Weekly Nutrition Coaching to help you get on track and feel great!