Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you’re on a weight loss journey right now, you probably know it makes sense to cut as many calories from your diet as possible. That being said, sometimes people go overboard with that notion and end up eating too little – making it harder for them to achieve their weight loss goals, and not to mention, cause a ton of complications and health problems.
Every human has a number of calories, or in other words, an amount of energy, that they require to live. And if you’re consistently eating less than your needs, your metabolism will slow down and your body will start preserving everything it can to survive. It’s not just hunger that indicates to you whether your body has enough fuel.
If you commit to short (or even long-term) dietary restrictions, this will backfire on your health and the usual weight-loss approach of cutting calories becomes an obstacle in the way to your goals.
Diet culture, in general, does an amazing job of making people feel bad for failing, yet doesn’t give them the opportunity to achieve long-lasting success through a diet. Countless people come back again and again to usual fad diets, only to see them work for a time before they ultimately stop them and regain every pound they lost.
That being said, let’s take a look at some common signs that you’re eating too little to support your body. When you’re in doubt, always come back to this checklist and see if you’re resonating with any of the following:
#1 Does your weight plateau or even increase?
When the scale can’t budge anymore, or when you start to gain weight when you’re on a weight loss diet (and here we mean week-by-week, not day-by-day fluctuations,) the answer is simply to eat more, not less.
You need to provide your body with more energy to stimulate the metabolic response necessary to promote weight loss. One easy fix is to add a snack or two between meals (and make sure it’s a snack that contains proteins, carbs, and fat. Once you’re providing your body with adequate fuel, your weight should start moving accordingly.
#2 Do you have cravings or thoughts about food all the time?
If you’re consistently not eating enough food to support your body’s needs, most of the time this results in a massive preoccupation with food, constant cravings, and negative thought patterns about food. This could manifest in ways such as obsessing over foodie social media accounts, download countless recipe books, or watching cooking shows.
And there’s a science behind it, too. The association between food preoccupation and dietary deprivation was discovered during the Minnesota Starvation Experiment all the way back during World War II.
Many of the participants went on to consistently hoard recipes and recipe books, and as the study continued, food became pretty much the only thing they spent their time on. Even though it’s a grueling example, it serves to show us why chronic food deprivation in today’s culture has the same effect.
#3 Are you moody and tired all the time?
There’s a new fad word in the weight loss community – have you heard of “hanger” is? That moment when you’re almost angry that you’re so hungry. Yes, there is actual science behind this, too.
When you go long periods of time without consuming adequate nutrition, your blood sugar drops. If you do not eat something that allows your blood sugar to spike, and your blood sugar stays low, you will notice a diminished ability to concentrate, lower mental focus, fatigue, tiredness, and other not-so-pleasant effects.
All of this can be turned around by just eating enough and providing the body with enough energy. These are cues that our body uses to tell us what we need.
#4 Do you have trouble sleeping?
There are few worse feelings than being tired and being unable to fall asleep. Yet this is another common “symptom” of dietary deprivation, and research about it goes back almost a century.
There’s even more recent research linking eating disorders and sleep disorders, and sleep disorders to malnourished infants, all of which emphasizes the profound role that diet plays in our body’s understanding of sleep and wake cycles. Not to mention, there’s consistent evidence that maintaining adequate energy intakes internally restores sleep-wake patterns.