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Yes, your eyes are not tricking you. I’m talking about under-eating. In a society, where especially women feel like they need to lose way to look a certain way, very low calorie diets are common. In order to lose weight, one has to consume less calories than one burns – calories in vs calories out. Quite often women restrict their caloric intake too much and as a result are not losing weight. When doing my research about this topic, I read quite a lot about women eating 1200 calories a day and doing excessive cardio on a daily basis. Although, their bodies were sending a lot of signals to remind them that they need more food, they didn’t listen (seems like we have forgotten to listen to out bodies…). At the same time, they were wondering why they didn’t lose that stubborn fat and as a result, decreased their calories even more. As you can probably imagine, this might kind evolve into a vicious circle…
If I you are on a diet and not seeing any results, under-eating could be the problem.
Because a friend of mine was complaining about some of the symptoms mentioned below and saidt she doesn’t lose weight although she is active and eating a low calorie diet, this topic caught my attention and I did some research.
Here are a few signs telling you to up your calories:
Your weight isn’t budging
Suddenly dramatically decreasing the caloric intake, is quite a shock for the body and it will probably make modifications to your thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones to reduce your overall caloric output. This means a lot of stress to your body and elevated cortisol (a stress hormone) can lead to leptin and insulin resistance. Such a horrible hormonal state can keep your body weight high.
You can’t get pregnant/ lose your period
Low calorie diets can lead to inadequate body fat percentage and this can lead to infertility and amenorrhea in women.
Your blood sugar is instable
Chronic under-eating can also lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Symptoms include hunger, shakiness, anxiety, dizziness, sweating, weakness, confusion and mood swings. Often you crave sugary foods when your blood sugar is low which can end in binging on sweets and junk food.
Your mood is unpredictable/you’re hangry all the time
As I already mentioned before, under-eating can lead to low blood sugar. Our brain requires optimal blood sugar to function properly and if it is not as it should be the first cognitive process that suffers is self-control. Without your ability to control attention, cope with stress and regulate emotions you might get a more aggressive behavior and mood swings.
You can’t fall/stay asleep
Increased calories, especially from carbs, can significantly improve your sleep quality and duration. Carbs and fat help to keep your blood sugar stable overnight and let you sleep like a baby. Aim for a carb and fat heavy bed time snack to improve your sleep!
The effects that under-eating can have on thyroid hormone can lead to constipation. There is a condition called euthyroid sick syndrome which means that your body develops hypothyroidism symptoms without necessarily showing any change in the typical thyroid markers most doctors check.
A drop in T3 can lead to a slower gut motility and this can end in chronic constipation.
You’re cold all the time
Because your body needs calories to heat itself, feeling cold all the time can be a sign you’re not eating enough. Another factor causing feeling cold is low insulin which is often seen in low carb diets.
You’re losing your hair
An alarming sign of nutritional deficiency is hair loss. Whether that is coming from calories, protein or hormonal changes due to under-eating – if you are losing hair by the handful, you need to have a serious look at your diet.
You’re experiencing brain fog or poor concentration
To keep it simple: If the body is starved of food, the brain will only be able to think about food and as a result, there is no room to concentrate on other things. Due to the lack of energy needed for the brain to function, it concentrates on the things most important – in this case: food (to function properly again).
If you are familiar with any of these signs, have a look at your caloric intake and up calories to get improvements. Often people think they eat enough when they actually aren’t. And then they are surprised how much better they feel when eating more and even more surprise when they don’t gain weight or after reaching a weight loss plateau they even manage to lose some fat again after actually eating more.
Especially, paired with too little rest, undereating can cause serious health issues!
Right, but how much should you eat now?
That really depends on the individual. But let me tell you one thing: a 1200 calorie diet is not enough in any case. When you are active you might be eating the double amount of this. All in all, both – eating too little and too much – is unhealthy for your body. To find the right amount of food intake you might have to experiment until you find what works best for you. Some might profit from the help of a professional, others know how to listen to their body and adjust accordingly themselves. But in the end, it will be totally worth it to life a healthy and sustainable lifestyle!
Let me know in the comments down below how much you can eat! Are you very active and can eat tons without gaining weight? Have you ever experienced under-eating or do you think you might be!
I’m not a professional. The information I provide in this post has been researched carefully. If you have any health issues, please consult a professional!
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