5 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough

Article posted in: Nutrition
woman tired and sleeping at work

Overeating is often thought of as the biggest challenge to losing weight. However, eating too little can also hinder weight loss results and cause harmful effects to your physical and mental health. Whether it’s due to a restriction of your food intake, extreme dieting or loss of appetite, not eating enough food can cause your body’s metabolism to slow down and store excess fat, making it harder to burn off. Additionally, your body will be less able to break down food properly and use nutrients, as some vitamins need fat in the body to be properly utilized.

In general, to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn off but not too few to stop your body from functioning properly. The amount of calories you need to consume each day varies from male to female.

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Whether following a specific diet plan or not, often times you are not adding in the proper amount of lean proteins, healthy fats and good carbs. And when this happens, your weight could actually plateau, and your body will start to show you signs it needs more food!

Check out these five signs you’re not eating enough (yes, it’s possible!):

1. You’re always low-energy and weak.

low energy

If you’re not consuming enough food to satisfy your nutritional needs, your body isn’t going to function properly, leaving you feeling weak, sluggish and fatigued. According to McGraw Hill Education, calories are units of energy that your body uses for fuel, but if you are not eating enough, your body goes into starvation mode and has to look to other sources to provide energy. This means your body will start to break down glycogen that your muscles and liver store from carbohydrates. These glycogen stores are saved for high-performance activities and exercise, but when your body eats through them, you won’t be able to perform in such scenarios. This leaves your body tired and consistently low on energy unless you begin to eat more high-energy foods that are rich with protein, good carbs and vitamins, including eggs, beans and bananas.

2. You’re always tired, even after sleeping.

always tired

Both overeating and undereating can have negative effects on sleep patterns. A study, published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, shows that people with calorie-restricted diets experience frequent interruptions during rest, thus never experiencing a deep sleep. Unless you establish a solid sleep schedule, you will never feel fully rested or have full energy restored. Undereating can also cause nagging hunger pains which can impede your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. You need to make sure you’re eating enough during the day to experience healthy sleep each night. Healthline suggests eating almonds, walnuts or any type of fatty fish to increase your ability to achieve a quality sleep.

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3. You’re often anxious and irritable.

anxious and irritable

With poor sleep, caused by undereating, also comes a range of other symptoms, including anxiety, depression and irritability. These low moods are often triggered during the day if you’re not eating enough to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, causing your moods and energy levels to spike as a result. A study, published in Eating and Weight Disorders, found a strong relationship between low moods in participants with eating problems as a result of restricted-calorie dieting. You need to eat foods that will slowly break down energy and maintain your blood sugar all day, such as whole grains, nuts and vegetables.

4.  You’re in a state of constant hunger

state of hunger

A very obvious sign of not eating enough is that you feel constant hunger. Restricting calories so far below our recommendations can be dangerous and trigger hunger pains. You should be eating more often rather than not throughout the day, so you should fuel your body at a proper pace with four or five small meals throughout the day. A study, published in the American Journal for Epidemiology, found that people who ate four or more healthy meals a day were reported to have a 45% lower risk for obesity. If you’re failing to continue to see weight loss progress, you may need to eat more often throughout the day rather than binging or eating fewer large meals.

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5. Your weight loss has plateaued.

not eating enough

While losing weight, it’s often easier to lose the first 15% of body weight due to the way we burn fat. As stated before, the body burns through glycogen stores in the muscles first, meaning most of the weight we initially burn is muscle rather than the preferred fat stores. Mayo Clinic explains that with less muscle, our body’s metabolism slows down and we require fewer maintenance calories than before. This marks a plateau in the number of calories being consumed and burned off and requires a reassessment of your diet and fitness habits for your new weight. You might need to adjust what types of foods you’re eating to ensure they give you energy and protein so you can also add a new fitness routine. The combination of new habits will force your body to recalibrate so you can begin to see results again.