Many people have this misconception of how much food is “enough” food. Especially when losing weight. They end up eating too little, which can hinder muscle gain, fat loss, energy levels and overall health.
This could be the result of many magazines advocating the 1200 calories per day meal, or wanting to cut down carbs and fats resulting in less calories overall. No matter what the reason many people are misled into thinking that eating more is bad. Especially women. Men are typically applauded for eating a lot, but not women. I take myself as an example, I eat a lot. You wouldn’t believe how much I eat. When people watch me eat and the portions I consume I get judgemental looks. However, I am feeding the muscles I work hard on and very proud of. I also know some girls who eat less on a date to avoid being judged, or who will never eat a burger in front of their boyfriends.
Our social environments are the perfect setting for chronic under-eating.
A slight caloric deficit should cause sustainable weight loss (300-500 calories per day), larger deficits cause changes in your metabolism to keep the body in energy balance and maintain homeostasis. The body wants to feel “safe”. This goes back to our primal hunting days, where when hunting wasn't possible it could be deprived of food for days. The body’s priority is survival, not weight loss.
So when you eat less calories, your body will eventually resorts to burning fewer calories in order to conserve energy and direct it to necessary functions for survival. This is when people will say “I’m not eating anything and I am still not losing fat”.
When you don’t eat enough, your body reduces active thyroid hormone, shuts down sex hormones productions and raises cortisol. The latter when chronically elevated leads to both leptin and insulin resistance, which promotes body fat and water retention.
Underrating also negatively impacts strength training goals. When calories are scarce, the body prioritises breathing and regulating body temperature and blood pressure over things like rebuilding muscle tissues.
Inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength.
When you are under-fueled, it may feel like you are training intensely but your power input is much lower than you think.
So if whether you are looking to lose weight, be leaner or maintain you need to consume enough food. It is important for all body functions and especially for fitness related goals.
Having trouble figuring out what to eat and how much is enough? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me help you.
Happy Healthy Living,