Are you under-eating?
Is eating less always a good thing?
Put simply, no.
Because we live in a society of overweight people and excess processed food consumption, we tend to think the less you eat the better.
But, more often than not, I’ll see people under-eating relative to what they need, and it’s sabotaging their weight loss and health goals. Not only are they not getting enough micronutrients and calories, but what they are getting is harmful to them.
So what are the downsides of eating too little?
1. Not getting enough nutrients like Vitamin A, magnesium, and omega-3s. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to excess cravings.
2. It can lead to blood sugar crashes because you’re not getting enough in the macronutrients to stabilize blood sugar.
3. Unhealthy psychological relationship where you view food as something that’s to be avoided rather than nourishing
4. You won’t be able to have enough energy to exercise or to recover properly from exercise.
5. Your body starts to go into starvation mode if you consume less than 20% of your calorie needs on a regular basis and not burn.
In general if you’re a female eating less than 1500 calories a day and if you’re a make eating less than 2000 calories a day you’re probably eating too little.
How do you determine your calorie needs? Check out the following video.
Today we are going to talk about under eating.
You might be surprised to hear us talk about this. You might think, “Oh, well the scourge of the modern world is that people are overeating and under exercising.” And obviously to a certain extent, that is certainly the case. Whereas food, quite a long time ago, used to be very scarce, and we weren’t very sedentary, we’d need to go work for food, or go out and hunt for food. Now we’re very sedentary. A lot of the time we don’t exercise, and we tend to overeat.
But I will tell you what. I see very, very, very often when people come in to see me, when we actually calculate what they’re supposed to be eating in terms of calorie needs, or protein needs, or carb needs, or fat needs, or all taken together, a lot of people are actually under eating. So it’s this combination of them eating too much in the way of bad stuff, and not eating enough total. That’s a horrible combination.
Now obviously, you wouldn’t want it to be the case that they’re eating too much of the bad stuff and whole lot of it. But at the same time, one of the things we will see over and over again is that people are under eating, and they’re actually sabotaging their weight loss and health goals.
You might be wondering, “What’s the problem with under eating? Isn’t eating less good? Isn’t that an unqualified good that everyone should be trying to do anyway?” Well, not necessarily. There’s some things that don’t admit of just going to the extreme. Working out is good. But that doesn’t mean that working out seven days a week, three times a day is better, right? So there’s a happy medium, there’s kind of a balance point. Same thing with eating less. We don’t want to gorge ourselves and be gluttons, but at the same time, we don’t want to starve ourselves.
So what are some of the downsides of eating too little? Well, number one, when we go to food quality standard number one that we talk about all the time, not getting enough nutrition. Not getting enough nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, K. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, things like that. So you just become nutrient deficient, and because of that, your body craves more food, and you end up kind of binging and eating things that you shouldn’t. So you’re not getting adequate nutrients to support your body’s function.
Blood sugar roller coaster. If you are taking in too little in the way of nutrition, your blood sugar’s gonna be on this kinda roller coaster throughout the day, where your hormones like cortisol are gonna need to come in to balance things out. And this is gonna cause you being hangry, hungry plus angry, having your blood sugar dysregulated, having your stress hormone, cortisol, be dysregulated. That’s not good either.
It’s gonna lead to an unhealthy psychological relationship with food, where you tend to view it has harmful rather than nourishing. [inaudible 00:03:04] something to be avoided.
And when we talk about exercise and performance, you’re just not gonna perform that well. And you’re just generally gonna feel tired, and not have enough energy, won’t be able to recover.
So under eating is not a good thing. People assume because overeating is bad that under eating must be okay, and it’s not. So you need to determine what your caloric needs are. So I did an entire other video on that that you guys can check out, but let me just use an example here to indicate how you very well might be consuming way too few calories.
As I mentioned in that other video, there are a lot of different ways to determine calories, but let’s just use a super simple one to show how probably a number of you watching this are probably eating too few calories.
One of the ways I mentioned in that other video to calculate calorie needs was a very simple back of the envelope calculation. Where you would do, you’d basically multiply a certain number of calories by someone’s body weight. So let’s say we have 100 pound person, someone who’s super, super light. If they wanted to maintain that weight, they would multiply their weight time 17 calories per pound, you’ll eat 1700. If they wanted to lose weight, they would multiply that times 14 calories, which would be 1400 calories. And if they wanted to gain weight, they’d multiply their weight times 20.
So think about that for a second. We’re talking about 100 pound person, most people watching this are not gonna be 100 pounds. That’s really, really light. And we’re saying that for them to maintain their weight, they would need to intake 1700 calories. And even if they wanted to lose weight, 1400 calories. So those of you out there that are eating 1100, 1200, 1300 calorie diets, that is way, way, way, way too little in the way of calories for you. And especially if you’re working out, especially if you’re working out. We haven’t even factored that into the equation yet.
If you’re working out, and you’re aggressively hypocaloric, it can actually thwart your goals, it can actually make it so that not only do you not lose weight, but in some cases, you can actually gain weight, because your body slows your metabolism down so much that it’s just trying to hoard whatever it gets.
It’s really, really important that you are eating adequate calories for what you’re trying to do. And just in general, if you go below 20 percent of what you need calorically on a daily basis, your body will tend to go into this kind of starvation mode, and it will hoard calories. It will hoard the food and the energy that you’ve consumed.
You really want to make sure that you’re intaking enough calories. So how do you determine this? Well, I’ll put a link in the video. I’ll put a link in the description below to that other video. You can come in and see us, and you can do an in-body scan, and we can determine your calorie needs for you. There are online calorie calculators. But generally speaking, if you’re someone who skips breakfast and then has a yogurt and a couple handfuls of nuts, and then has a salad for dinner, you’re probably eating way too little.
Just do a little accounting, maybe, with something like My Fitness Pal, or come in and see us here at the gym, and figure out your calorie needs, and maybe that could be the key to getting you to not only feel better, but perform better, and maybe even reach your weight loss goals.
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