Today I want to talk about something that isn't really talked about enough. We have been living in a culture where obesity and being overweight is a HUGE issue, and don't get me wrong, it still totally is. But over the years we have started to go in the extreme opposite direction - under-eating.
Probably because we were trying too hard to "fix" the obesity probably that we created all these diets that actually cause us to under-eat and therefore we aren't getting the calories/energy and nutrients we need to not only live our daily lives, but ACTIVE lives.
Think you may be under-eating? Here are some signs.
You're Tired All The Time
Calories = energy. And even if you get a decent sleep, if you're not eating enough you're going to be tired and groggy all day long. This is because your body is using all the (little) fuel it has to function properly and support your brain, heart, etc. If you find yourself getting extra sleepy throughout the day maybe you need to increase your portion sizes or add in an extra snack. That way you have more energy to not only function properly, but stay alert.
You're Irritable All The Time
When you're tired and can't function at your best, you're likely to get cranky, crabby and irritable. You don't have the patience to deal with simple daily tasks...or people. Do you find yourself snapping at people for no reason? Or maybe you get upset a lot easier than normal. Also, food gives us pleasure, and when you take that away from yourself - you simply aren't as happy.
"Together with ghrelin, which binds to a receptor in the brain to signal hunger, epinephrine (aka adrenaline) can lead to hanger," she explains. And when combined with the psychological effects of depriving yourself, eating too few calories is an easy way to feel frustrated and on edge."
Your Workouts Suck
Pretty blunt, huh? But seriously. I don't mean that your workouts themselves suck (although, they might. You might not be pushing yourself as hard as you think you can. You know, you are capable of a lot more than you think). But are your workouts lagging? Do you feel less energized in the gym than normal? You aren't progressing? That's probably because your body doesn't have enough energy to do more than just... exist. You NEED more calories when you are active to support your activity and support your muscles. Don't be afraid to eat more - especially when you workout regularly.
You Aren't Seeing Results
Trying to lose weight? You start cutting calories but eventually all your progress stalls? That can be because you are starving yourself and your body is holding on to everything it has to simply live. Kind crazy, but you need to eat more if you actually wanna lose weight. Think about it, are you going to keep cutting calories forever? Eventually there will be nothing left to cut.
This is the same with trying to build muscle. In order to add strength and mass to your body you NEED the extra fuel to support your gains. If you go hard in the gym, you won't see results unless you're eating enough.
You're Hungry All The Time
Okay, this is kind of a given, but seriously... If you're hungry AKA stomach is growling and you just feel like you need to eat.. then you probably need to eat. Don't ignore it. Also, if you find that you eat A LOT every once in a while - like you eat a MASSIVE meal that's not normal - that can be because you are super deprived and your body wants that fuel so you just give in and eat like crazy. If you eat at a regular state and if you eat enough to support yourself, then those crazy binges aren't as likely to happen.
Your Sex Drive Is Gone
When you're not eating enough calories and most likely over-exercising, your sex hormones plummet and so does your sex drive. Check out this study:
Absence of sexual relationships was associated with lower minimum lifetime body mass index (BMI) and earlier age of onset; loss of libido with lower lifetime BMI, higher interoceptive awareness and trait anxiety; and sexual anxiety with lower lifetime BMI, higher harm avoidance and ineffectiveness. Sexual dysfunction in eating disorders was higher than in the normative sample.
(Poyastro Pinheiro, A., et al. Sexual function in women with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2010)
In simpler terms, having an unhealthy body weight and dieting is associated with a lower libido. I can attest to this. Getting real personal here. When I was DEEP into my ED - like severely restricting food and over-exercising, I had no trait of intimacy in me. I was like BLAH. I didn't want it. I was never "turned on." I hated sex. I HAD NO IDEA WHY. Then through recover, I started to research more and found out that my diet was directly affecting my sex drive.
Those are just a few examples of signs that you may not be eating enough. Other things that I experienced when I was extremely under-eating are:
Many people don't even REALIZE they are under-eating because they are taught that less = better when it comes to food. But like I mentioned before, it's likely you need to eat MORE to see fitness results. Our bodies need A LOT of energy to work.
I'm not a doctor, I'm not writing you a meal plan. But what I will always do is bring awareness to what may be hurting your health and your body.
I want you to be healthy and happy.