Whether you’re trying to lose, maintain or gain weight, eating enough is one of the most important things you can do to reach your goal. When trying to achieve weight loss/maintenance goals, it’s tempting to consume less calories in an effort to speed up the process, but not eating enough can actually have negative effects on your goals and overall health.
I know it sounds crazy, but yes, not eating enough can stall your weight loss. Calories are not the enemy, calories are your friends! They provide your body with the energy it needs to survive. You absorb this energy from the food you feed your body. If you are not eating enough, your body will not have enough energy to function properly.
Signs You’re Not Eating Enough
When your calories are too low your energy will be low. Do you find yourself dragging throughout the day or being too tired or weak to power through your workout? You may need to reevaluate your diet. Without enough calories your body begins to run out of the energy it needs leaving you with no fuel to power through the day.
Dizziness may be one of the more noticeable signs of not eating enough. When you don’t eat enough, your blood sugar levels can begin to drop and make you feel dizzy or faint.
You Get Sick More Often
Undereating can often lead to eliminating specific food groups that have important nutrients needed to maintain a healthy immune system. This means that even the common cold can last much longer than it should because your body is not getting the proper nutrients it needs to fight off illnesses.
The health of your hair, skin, and nails depend on the nutrients your body absorbs from the food you eat. This is why you may notice a decline in your physical appearance when your body does not get enough of the nutrients it needs. When your body is running on limited nutrients, it will choose to nourish the most important organs like your brain, heart, and muscles, rather than your hair, skin, and nails.
Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, but constant brain fog could be your body’s way of telling you that it needs more fuel. Skipping or postponing meals can deprive your brain of nutrients it needs to promote clear thinking.
Not Making Progress Toward Your Goals
If you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight and aren’t seeing progress toward your goals after a few months, you may need to reflect on your daily intake and activity level to ensure they align with your goal.
How Many Calories Should You Be Eating a Day?
The number of calories a person needs varies depending on multiple factors, including your age, gender, height, weight, and level of physical activity. Other factors that contribute to your recommended calorie intake also depend on your desire to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
Calculate your caloric needs here with our Daily Calorie Calculator.
Tips to Avoid Under Eating
Now that you know how many calories your body needs to successfully power through the day, below are some tips to make sure that you’re eating enough to meet your goal.
1. Log Your Meals
Sometimes it’s hard to eat consistently with a busy schedule and it’s common to simply forget to eat. Logging your meals will not only help to keep you accountable for eating enough, but it will also create awareness. Keeping track of your food throughout the day is a good way to reflect on your eating habits and see where you can improve. You may start to notice that you often skip breakfast or lunch, or you need to add in some healthy snacks to reach your calorie goal for the day. We suggest logging your meals with MyFitnessPal.
2. Eat More Frequently
Here at fit-flavors we see many people reach their goal eating at least 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. If you eat 3 meals and 2 snacks spaced evenly throughout the day, your body will stay fueled and get the energy it needs to power through the day.
Don’t be afraid to snack! Snacking healthfully on nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can prevent under eating as well as promote weight loss.
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day! Starting your day off with a balanced breakfast is essential for brain function and gets your metabolism up and running. Your body needs fuel to start the day. If you skip breakfast you are starting your day off by depriving your body of the nutrition it needs early on, which could lead to undereating or even overeating because that’s already a meal skipped. The choices you make for breakfast in the morning will affect the rest of your day, so start the day off right with a nutrient rich breakfast.
4. Meal Prep
Most people can agree that lack of time is one of the top reasons why they skip meals. When you wake up late or you have limited time to eat, you’re more likely to just skip that meal completely. Having your meals prepped ahead of time ensures that you always have something available to eat and will save you time and money in the long run.
Meal prepping for the week can take several hours if you do it yourself. If you can’t make the extra time for this, consider buying your meals already prepared at fit-flavors. Meals and snacks are fully cooked, balanced, and easy to grab and go, great for when you’re short on time. For extra help planning your meals for the week, download our Winning Week Meal Planning Worksheet.
5. Enjoy Your Food
Do you ever find yourself scared to snack or overeat? Often times these feelings can take part in undereating. If you sometimes get feelings of guilt or nervousness about what you’re eating, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with food. Having a healthy relationship with food means looking forward to your meals and enjoying them, instead of restricting yourself.
The bottom line is that under-eating can do more harm than good for your overall physical and mental health. If you need to cut back on calories for weight loss or weight management, make sure your daily calories are enough to still keep your body properly fueled. If you think you still might need some extra help with eating enough, consider meeting with a registered dietitian to come up with a plan that will work for you.