We are often conditioned by society to believe that eating less would translate directly to weight loss. And so, whenever we plan to get rid of some extra flab or love handles, we cut down on our calorie intake. While it is advised to cut down on some high cholesterol, oily and fatty foods, you must not cut down on nutrients. The fact is that if you don’t eat sufficient calories, you will not move even an inch closer to your fitness goals. If undereating was the solution to excess weight, we’d not need dieticians to help us with accurate nutrition intake. The ideal way to reach your goals is to balance it with a healthy diet and exercise.
The reason we are talking about this, is because we have come across customers who come up to us with questions like, “Why am I gaining weight even when I eat so little?” or “Why has my weight come to a standstill even when I am constantly on diet?”. Well, that’s because your self-administer diet is doing you more harm than good.
Undereating is directly connected to your metabolism. Those who opt for crash diets believe that if they don’t eat much, their body will break down the stored fat for energy. However, it is far easier for your body to burn your lean muscle mass and turn it into glucose. Lesser muscle mass directly slows your metabolism. So, eating in lesser quantity results in a snowball effect and becomes counter-productive.
Now that you know that eating lesser than your daily calorie requirement will take you nowhere, the question arises how do you know that you are in fact undereating?
Here are some common signs that you should look out for to figure this out.
Sign and Symptoms of Undereating
Do you always feel tired? It’s because your body does not have the fuel to perform daily activities. Food is your fuel and without it the glucose levels in your body tank leading to fatigue.
Stagnancy in Weight
If the weighing scale is not budging or moving towards the higher end, take it as a red flag. It is one of the most obvious signs of chronic undereating. And you must act immediately. Consulting a dietician would be the optimum solution. But if you don’t want to seek external help, calculate your daily calorie requirement and monitor your calorie intake to meet the required level.
Do you often get hangry? Are you feeling low for no reason? Do you burst into tears and wonder why? Mood fluctuations are often linked to energy. If you are low on energy, your mood wouldn’t be great either. This is because your body lacks the necessary nutrients to function. A study that revealed that people with depression had lower vitamin D levels than others.
People who undereat often relate to the phrase, “I am always ill.” You catch a cold easily, you have bowel issues, and headaches become a part of your daily life. And that’s all because undereating leads to an imbalanced diet that lacks nutrients thereby affecting your immunity.
Not just that, you tend to feel cold all the time. And that’s because your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain body healthy temperature which it does not receive when you undereat.
Obsession and Compulsions
Not eating enough and your mental health is closely inter-related. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. One of the major consequences of undereating is that it makes you obsessive. You either go to extreme length and start following rigid routines just to see some positive results. For instance, you feel compelled to do a 5k run just because you had an additional spoonful of rice at lunch. It directly affects your self-image and you become over-critical of your body and looks. These are early-symptoms of Anorexia nervosa, a serious eating disorder.
We are not saying that these symptoms are exclusive for undereating. Our lifestyles have become such that some of these symptoms have rather become common-place. But if you are experiencing most of them, it’s is advisable that you do a calorie check.
So, how you do know what your daily calorie requirement is?
Daily Calorie Requirement Calculator
You can easily calculate the bare minimum calories you need to take using the Mifflin-St Jeor equation.
Mifflin-St Jeor equation for Men
(10 x weight (kg)) + (6.25 x height (cm)) – (5 x age (years) + 5)
Mifflin-St Jeor equation for Women
(10 x weight (kg)) + (6.25 x height (cm)) – (5 x age (years) -161)
Once you know your minimum daily calorie intake, you must keep track of what you are eating. optimumYou’d find a lot of apps like Healthify which can help you record your calories. Using those, you need to ensure that your daily intake does not drop below it.
So, if you have been following a crash diet and pushing your body to extremes, it may be time to hold on for a second and to listen to your body for signs before it’s too late.
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