Are you not eating enough?

In my current women’s wellness and weight loss program I have been working with a client who has established that she may not be eating enough to achieve her weight loss and performance goals. This might sound like a backwards idea but I can assure you that it is not uncommon and it’s also completely possible!

For those people who are already pretty strict when it comes to diet and exercise, it can be frustrating to watch others around you lose weight easily while you struggle to make any progress at all. In this scenario, there is potential that you might need to be eating more to get the most out of your metabolism.

If you are wondering whether this might be you- take a look at these next few points which can be common signs of not consuming enough calories throughout the day.

  • You’ve lost touch with your hunger cues.

One of the things that I teach my clients is to use the hunger scale. The hunger scale encourages you to eat when you begin to feel hungry, then stop eating when you feel satisfied. This prevents us from getting to the point of over-fullness and discomfort, or the point of starvation where we can’t make a good choice about what we should be eating. While this sounds like a great concept to most- there are some people that have absolutely no idea when they are hungry.

Our body releases hunger hormones at regular intervals to ensure that the brain and body can survive optimally. There are times when people feel hungry all the time- which may indicate hormone imbalance- and there are times when people have deprived themselves of calories for so long that their body doesn’t release these hunger hormones as efficiently. This is because overtime the body has stored calories rather than used them as fuel- due to it believing that calories are scarce.

If you can’t remember the last time you felt hungry or know that you probably have been restricting calories (less than 1000) on and off for long periods- you likely require more food. It’s possible to get back in touch with your hunger- just try increasing the calorie content of your breakfast/ lunch to start with and consume regular meals. Your body should start feeling hungry every 2-3 hours following a meal- it might just take a few weeks for you to get these hunger cues back.

  • You feel hungriest in the evening

If you think about our usual routine as humans- we generally are most active in the first half of the day. We are thinking, moving, talking, doing, then we tend to reduce the pace in the afternoon/ evening. Therefore it makes sense that our circadian rhythm is programmed in the same way- to boost our metabolism up in the first half of the day to make sure that we have enough fuel on board to get through this busy, demanding part of the day.

However, busy lives often mean that meals and snacks in the first half of the day are not prioritised and extreme hunger and overeating ends up happening later in the afternoon/ night. This pattern or eating can easily lead to weight gain over time, simply because of how our metabolism is designed to work.

Prioritise eating more in the first half of your day and commit to making these meals protein rich with long lasting carbs and loads of veggies for fullness. This will mean that by the time you hit that 3pm mark- your appetite is more likely to be regulated and you are less likely to spend the evening wandering back and forth to the kitchen!

  • You feel exhausted

It makes sense- our body needs fuel to function and therefore if we aren’t eating enough then we are going to feel tired! If you are exercising and know that your workouts are limited due to your fatigue then look at your nutrition around those sessions and add in a decent snack before hand to give you enough fuel. The area of nutrition for energy is huge and I could talk about it for hours but the basic point here is that if you are ticking the boxes for some of these signs that you aren’t eating enough and this is one of them- then your diet likely needs a review.

  • You are eating less than 1000 calories.

For some reason the numbers 1000-1200 have been highlighted as the magical number of calories for weight loss in those who already are a healthy BMI. The truth is that for those people who are fit and exercising regularly, this number of calories is generally not enough to maintain a healthy metabolic rate long term.

If you're not consuming enough calories- your body will need to use your muscle for energy which further reduces metabolic rate- making it even harder to lose weight. While the number of calories required varies alot between individuals- if you know that you are an active person and are struggling to achieve your goals eating this much then bump the calories up and see if this helps to get your body burning fuel efficiently again.

  • Your weight isn’t moving even when you are dieting

How frustrating is it to be doing absolutely everything right and seeing no results- while others around you barely need to to try and they seem to lose weight. There are many parameters of weight loss and calories are only one piece of the puzzle here- but definitely need to be considered. If you are aiming for weight loss and not achieving it then something needs to change! Change the size of your meals, the timing of meals, snack frequency, macronutrients, and exercise. These things will keep the body guessing! Remember- the human body does not want to lose weight and will do everything that it can do prevent this, so as soon as it figures out your usual diet and exercise regimen it will adapt! Change things up, keep the body guessing, and don’t fall into the trap of reducing calories further and further due to the belief that you are eating too much.