Have you ever used the strategy of cutting out a ton of calories to try and lose weight? It seems logical to cut super low and force your body to use stored calories to burn fat to get lean. But, did you know that it’s possible to eat too little? When you drop too low it makes it harder for you to achieve a healthy weight so the strategy backfires.
Here is why:
Everyone has a set amount of calories, or energy, they need to simply be alive (this is your basal metabolic rate or your base rate). Consistently eating less than this can cause your metabolism to slow down and your body to go into starvation mode. This means that your body is unsure about how many calories it will get and stores everything for survival instead of burning it for fuel. So instead of being in a high-fat burn mode, you are in the opposite, a starvation mode. Not good for your body or your health goals, or possibly the people around you.
Here are some common signs you’re eating too little to support your body and the solution of how to really keep your metabolism on fire.
1. Preoccupation with Food. It’s on your mind ALL the time. You talk about food constantly. Your focus may always be on the next meal or snack and in between that you may be obsessing over food on social media sites. It’s ok to have some for planning and creativity etc. but you get the point of too much isn’t good.
2. You get “hangry”. This is the term for when you are so hungry and your sugar levels are so low you become are borderline angry. So due to your self-induced starvation and low-calorie intake, you become “hangry”. In addition to your mood change, you may also have difficulty concentrating, your patience will be low, and your general mental focus diminishes. Hangry has two friends; tiredness and fatigue. These go hand in hand with not eating enough because your body is simply not getting enough energy.
The good news. This entire issue is remedied with a snack or meal. Grab an apple or other fruit, peanut butter, turkey and cheese, basically anything will work. Just eat before the “hangry” you gets out of control.
3. Sleeplessness. There is nothing worse than feeling tired but being unable to sleep. This is another common result of too few calories. You should still eat a couple of hours before sleep time (not right before you close your eyes for the night). A consistent energy level throughout your day allows your body an opportunity to have a smoother and more consistent sleep pattern. This is good for muscle restoration if you are working out a lot or are very active.
4. Constipation. Yes, low calories can back you up. You would think that less food will process fast through your system. But again the opposite may happen. Since your body is holding calories as long as possible it may slow the digestion process and cause constipation. Higher fiber, half your body weight in ounces of water, and regular eating will help clear this up.
5. Weight gain or stall. Have you ever been stuck on a weight and got frustrated? Most of us have. And the first thing we usually do is want to start skipping meals, right? From all the points above you know that wont work. So, instead of providing the body with less energy and slowing your metabolism go the opposite strategy of actually eating more. Yes, eat more. I have reviewed hundreds of peoples daily food intake and one of the biggest issues is usually large gaps of time between meals which results in not eating enough.
To eat more, simply add a small snack between meals. Fruit, nuts, oatmeal, veggies, etc. It doesn’t need to be a meal, just some food to keep your metabolism burning and your energy up. This will help you to start burning the fat again.
Quick Summary: Cutting too many calories slows your metabolism, slows your weight and fat loss results, makes you hangry, and a host of other possibilities that are not desirable for quality health. Instead, eat every 3 or so hours. A meal or snack depending on your goals and how active you are every day.
Your body is like your car: it runs on fuel. When it’s out, it stops. Keep adding high-quality fuel on a regular basis to keep yourself running at top-shelf quality.