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Calories: Are You Eating Too Little?

Posted 155 Days Ago in: Training, Nutrition


There's a lot of talk about restricting calories when you want to lose weight, but you need to be careful of how you restrict them because there are unintended consequences linked to not eating enough and not getting enough fuel for your training.

There is often a lot of consternation regarding what we are putting into our bodies, what nutrients we need to be getting and how much of it we need. Then we get bogged down by information on diets and which ones work best, what foods we need to cut out and how many calories need to be restricted.

But aside from not really knowing what information is relevant to us as individuals there is another factor at play…

We’re constantly told that in order to lose weight we need to eat less but the truth is that this can lead to even more complications with regards to your training and training adaptations because many of us end up eating too little and get caught in the trap of thinking that this means that we will lose more weight.

Yes, the truth is that you will lose weight on a caloric restrictive diet but it is also true that your body needs sufficient amounts of nutrients to produce energy when training and enough to burn so that you will get stronger and experience healthy weight loss.

In terms of your training, research has shown that undereating and inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength or size, and the energy deficit can seriously weaken your power in training sessions in general. With weaker training sessions comes an inability to make significant training progress and being unable to increase the strength of your muscles means that you won’t sufficiently tone your muscles and become stronger. If your intention is to look fit while losing weight then you need to be eating a proper amount of healthy foods such as lean meat, chicken breasts, fish, vegetables, fruits and fats to be used for energy.  

Undereating and calorie restriction can also negatively impact the way that hormones are produced in your body, which can mean that you do not lose weight properly and increase the likelihood of you harming your internal organs. One study found that undereating impacts the body by reducing thyroid hormone production. These hormones are needed for the control of metabolism, growth, body temperature, muscle strength, appetite, and the health of your heart, brain, kidneys, and reproductive system.

In women, it also stops sex hormone production as nutritional inadequacy appears to separate amenorrheic runners from sedentary menstruating controls, and, thus, the exercise training performed by the athletes at the time of the present investigation alone does not appear to be the major factor associated with athletic amenorrhea, but rather the nutritional deficiencies are. The same has been seen with estrogen, which is produced in the bodies of both males and females. 

High calorie restriction has also been associated with raises in the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to poor quality of sleep and a lack of significant weight loss due to stress. Stress has a wide range of negative effects on the body that range from emotional and physical and restricting calories has been found to increase the total output of cortisol. The task of monitoring calories also increased perceived stress. Therefore, diets can be deleterious in assisting you in achieving your goals if you are not getting enough nutrients.

In terms of your exercise recovery, it doesn’t only depend on warming down properly but also on how you replenish your body of the nutrients that you lose due to increased energy expenditure and oxidative stress. You need to eat healthy and enough in order to sufficiently repair your muscles of damage caused by your workout, reduce inflammation and to ensure that your muscles grow adequately. Adequate sleep is also important for muscle recovery but with raised cortisol levels or hunger you are more susceptible to experiencing poor sleep.

To succeed in building muscle and losing weight simultaneously, consume 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily. To meet this goal, you'll likely have to rely heavily on protein sources, such as meat, fish, beans, eggs and tofu if you are vegetarian.

To maximize this stimulus, focus of heavy, compound exercises, such as the bench press, shoulder press, bent-over row, squat and deadlift.

The key takeaway is that you need to view your body as an ecosystem that relies on a perfect balance to be at its optimum. You need to be wary of undertaking a restrictive diet if your intention is to also build muscle for your diet to complement your training. You need to mindful of the fact that your body needs food to survive and needs more of it when you are exercising because you will be expending more energy during high intensity workouts. Don’t be afraid to eat, but always be aware of what you are eating so that you can remain at your peak and reach your individual goals.




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