8 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough, From A Dietitian

After years of trying to get fit, Madalin doubled down on her diet. She started working out a lot harder and cut her calories down to a minuscule 800 per day! (Yikes!) Month after month the scale wouldn’t budge, she wasn’t getting any stronger, and she certainly wasn’t feeling any healthier. It was time to consult a nutritionist. 

“When I was eating 800 calories a day, I thought I was healthy,” Madalin explained. Her body had adjusted and was no longer sending her hunger signals, so she didn’t feel like she was doing anything extreme. But Madalin realized that eating so little was getting her nowhere. “I got in touch with a nutritional coach and got my macro[nutrient]s sorted.” 

Madalin’s coach gave her two pieces of advice right away. First, she should significantly increase her calorie intake. Second, she should eat the right amount of macronutrients.

Madalin’s story clearly shows that undereating won’t help you reach your fitness goals. Her story is not unique. Just google “reverse dieting before and after” and you’ll see the pattern. 

Are you trapped in a calorie-cutting cage? Eating too few calories can affect your entire body, from your weight to your fertility to your mental health. Here are 8 signs that you’re not eating enough and what to do about it. 


1. Food Is On The Brain 24/7

If your head is in the clouds like it was in middle school when you were crushing on Kyle, but this time you’re dreaming about a huge bowl of spaghetti, you might need to eat something. 

When our bodies are underfed, cravings for carby foods become powerful and then irresistible. If you’re thinking about food around the clock, struggling to stick with your diet, or binging on carbs, your body is taking over and demanding that you stay alive and feed it, already! 


2. Your Body Fat Won’t Budge

When you cut too many calories, your body will adjust by slowing down your metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day). In response to the lack of adequate food, your body will reduce active thyroid hormone, shut down sex hormone production, and raise stress hormones like cortisol. 

These changes lead to both leptin and insulin resistance, a disastrous hormonal state that can increase both your weight and body fat. To put it simply, skimping on food is a futile attempt to lose weight.


3. Aunt Flow Doesn’t Even Call Anymore

What you eat—and how much—can have a direct impact on your period. Losing your period entirely due to undereating is referred to in medical terms as hypothalamic amenorrhea. But your lost period is just part of the picture. 

Research suggests that women’s hormones in particular are sensitive to energy availability. We, ladies, need adequate calories (and healthy carbs) to maintain hormone balance and avoid serious symptoms like infertility, low mood, and weight gain. 


4. You Want to Nap at All the Red Lights

One of the most obvious symptoms of undereating is constantly feeling tired. Our bodies break down the food we eat (mainly carbohydrate-rich foods) into glucose and then burn them for fuel. If you’re not adequately fueling your body, you’ll start to feel a dip in energy and eventually chronic fatigue. 

Undereating can also disrupt deep sleep. Going to bed hungry makes it hard to fall asleep. Undernourished people also wake more frequently throughout the night. At this point, coffee can’t take the place of adequate calories. 


5. Your Blood Sugar is Taking You For a Spin

Excessive carbohydrate consumption can cause imbalanced blood sugar levels. But most don’t know that inadequate calorie consumption can cause just as many issues with blood sugar control. 

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) comes with a list of uncomfortable symptoms. You might feel shaky, anxious, dizzy, sweaty, and weak. Because people feel better eating sugary foods when they’re hypoglycemic, it’s easy to get caught in the high and low blood sugar swings that lead to junk food binges. 


6. You Snapped At The Grocery Store Clerk

Are innocent bystanders receiving your wrath? Unpredictable moods and irritability are tell-tale signs of underrating. Like we talked about above, undereating can cause hypoglycemia. Your brain requires blood sugar to function at its best. But when our blood sugar drops, one of the first cognitive processes that suffer is self-control

If you’re frequently hangry with hubby, a bigger breakfast might brighten your mood. 


7. You’re Light On Bowel Movements

If you’re not eating enough, you won’t have much bulk to have a regular, healthy bowel movement. Lack of adequate nutrition can also cause hypothyroidism symptoms, including constipation. In short, our bodies need adequate food to keep our digestive system humming along happily. 


8. You’re Using More Volumizing Mousse

Hair loss is a common sign of both too few calories and too little protein. Nutritional deficiency and the subsequent drop in hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen, causes hair to fall out, grow more slowly, and become much thinner. That’s a trifecta we don’t want to tamper with. Better eat up! 


Eat More to Lose More

Just like Madelin’s nutritionist told her, to reach your fitness goals, you have to eat the right amount of calories and the right ratio of macronutrients. In my free guide, I’ll teach you how to calculate your daily macros and calorie intake and apply them for results. 

You may find that you’re currently eating significantly less than your body needs for healthy weight loss. Don’t douse your diet with twice the calories all at once. My guide to reverse dieting is one of my favorite resources I offer my clients. In this thorough guide, you’ll learn exactly how to significantly increase how much you eat without gaining weight in the process. 

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