Could you be undereating??!
You would think that eating less throughout your day would result in less overall body fat, right? You would also think that eating as little as possible would surely help to speed up the weight-loss process?
Well, I’m sorry to burst that bubble…
Because despite those assumptions sounding half-legit, they’re actually a little inaccurate!
But boy oh boy…
Have I learnt a thing or two about the many tales, stories and myths revolving around weight loss and under-eating!
Did you know that under-eating actually does more harm to your body than good?
I’m going to clear up any misconceptions you may have on how the whole healthy and sustainable weight-loss thing really works. You see, in the past, I’ve had some pretty unfortunate experiences involving under-eating and stalling weight loss. These experiences have led me to be patently passionate about educating others on how weight loss actually works and how eating less food than your body truly needs can actually STALL your weight-loss goals.
Now you’re probably thinking, “But how can this be? I’m consuming less energy than I’m expending - I should be losing weight!?”
Please, let me explain…
So everyone has a daily calorie requirement and you may have also heard of a BMR (Basal Metabolic rate). Your daily calorie requirements depend on your age, gender, body size and overall body composition, as well as your daily physical activity level.
When you consume MORE calories than your body burns and needs (putting you in a calorie surplus), the body will then store the extra calories as body fat evidently resulting in weight gain. When you consume slightly LESS calories than your body burns and needs (putting you in a calorie deficit), your body actually then uses the already-stored fat which evidently results in weight loss. Sound pretty practical, right?
Well once upon a time, I personally didn’t know all that!
In fact, I was so uneducated, I over-complicated everything! I’d believe any and all the misapprehensions and folk tales that I read on Instagram and google about weight-loss and quick-fixes whilst I was seeking answers to my curious questions. So clearly, being gullible didn’t help me too much as I really struggled to sought out information form credible sources (I promise things have changed now haha).
Before I studied to become a Personal Trainer and before I started working for a very knowledgeable man named Joshua Watkin at Mass Nutrition, I was on a real journey of learning the basics - there were many trial and errors in this time period!
It was in these two places, (Mass Nutrition and Fit College) where I finally began to learn all the tricks of the trade. It was at these places where I truly flourished. Previously, I was only marginally educated on whole body health. In the past, I was a sport-all-rounder competing in every sport under the sun with my main sport being competitive Swimming, so I had somewhat of an idea on overall ‘health’ – I mean, I had the fitness and training part down pact! For the first 17 years of my life, I was an internationally competitive swimmer, and it was in those years where I could literally eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING and get away with it. I didn’t really have any nutritional education because, well… Apparently, I didn’t have to worry about what I was putting in my mouth because I’d just burn whatever I ate off in the pool doing my copious amounts of laps anyway (insert *face palm* here!) If only I had known earlier how to eat and fuel my body right!
You see, when you train 90min sessions 7 to 9 times a week you have some room to eat! Truly, I was a bottomless pit – take me to sizzler at this time I my life and you’d have to stop me from going back for 7ths! Looking back at this now, I wish I wasn’t so unaware of the consequences I would reap when I was older by eating so much crap when I was younger – I’m talking 2 minute noodles every day for breakfast, 1 x large packet of Salt’n’Vinegar chips, Ham, Cheese and Bacon rolls 24/7 and the infamous woollies chocolate mud cake! Any time I could get my hands-on pasta, hot chips and nuggets, I totally would haha. Yes, it was a great time because I was burning a lot of calories so I was able to also eat a lot of calories, but if I had a better education about nutrition, not only would it have helped with my performance in and out of the water, but I would have a way healthier body now for it too. Unfortunately, since this time, I’ve had to slowly fix my Gut Dysbiosis, I’ve had hormonal issues arise such a PCOS, I’ve had random allergies come about here and there and I’ve had sudden intolerances develop too. I’m not saying this was ALL caused from eating lots of terribly processed foods growing up, but it surely wouldn’t have helped!
After competing at my last Nationals, I decided to hang up the togs and goggles and quit my competitive career of swimming. It was then that I knew I had to sign up to a gym in order to keep fit and not go backwards! So then began my very own journey to sustaining my fitness, and learning more and more about Nutrition, Health and Fitness.
That first year of training in the gym, I was a complete cardio-bunny! I was so afraid of gaining fat after quitting swimming, so I made sure I did cardio every single day for a minimum of 120minutes and I made sure I ate SUPER duper clean, spraying all my food with Ajax just to make sure (haha I’m totally kidding, that was such a dad joke!) But seriously… I thought I had to eat plain chicken and broccoli and do ample amounts of cardio to lose body fat% because that’s what I read on Instagram! (Haha I know right – so naive!) I was one of those people haha. I actually did this for a year and a half until I started surrounding myself with intelligent people within the Health and Fitness industry.
Man, has it been a journey! Safe to say I’ve walked through the fads, the detox teas and the magic pills, but let me tell you now…
Nothing works as good for weight loss as much as a good, enjoyable exercise regimen and a realistic, maintainable and sustainable diet - one you can easily adhere to.
You see, I used to under-eat big time, thinking the less I consumed and the more I starved myself that I would surely see results in no time! I would do crazy amounts of cardio, eat way less than I needed to, and wonder why my abs still weren't popping and wonder why I was so tired and depressed all the time! I mean, I was doing all the hard work in the gym! But it wasn’t until I sought out help from a credible coach at my gym by the name of Stent Card who then taught me everything there was to know about macronutrients, calories, tracking and nutrition as a whole - it was then that I really started to see amazing results. Man, am I so thankful for Stent as he saved me from my foolish dieting ways and the wrath of under-eating! How are we to know until we start searching right?
Let me explain a little about the consequences of under-eating…
So, under-eating usually results in malnutrition. This can be in the form of vitamin deficiencies, protein deficiency and/or carbohydrate deficiencies. Ultimately, this leads to starvation of the body! Your body needs a wide variety of nutrients to keep it functioning at its absolute best! Think about it this way…. Just like your car, if you don’t fill up every once in a while, you won’t be going anywhere haha. It just won’t work! Well, like a car, our body actually works in a similar manner. If we don’t eat enough fuel, stored fat can’t really keep the body functioning. To lose weight, you do need to cut calories and/or increase activity but you also need to continue eating enough food to support your body’s functions and stay healthy. Under-eating means you are starving various parts of your body and they’ll eventually want to quit on you. Oh yes, they won’t want to play the game anymore and there is a potential chance they may stop working accurately.
Eating less than your body needs causes levels of cortisol to rise. Cortisol is the stress hormone. This stress hormone causes the body to hold onto every morsel of fuel that comes its way (grrrrrr!). So, what this really means, is cortisol causes your body to hold onto stubborn body fat – especially in areas like your abdomen (belly), thighs, buttocks, hips (love handles) and triceps! The more severely less you eat, the more your body thinks it’s starving, so like a small child refusing to give up his favourite toy, your body isn’t going to give up any fat stores until it absolutely has to. That means under-eating isn’t going to eliminate stomach fat until there isn’t enough muscle to consume! When the body thinks that it’s starving, (or when it’s in a catabolic state) it evidently eats away at your muscles first to gain energy. It breaks down your muscle protein in order to use amino acids as substrates for gluconeogenesis.
If your body isn’t getting enough food, you are going to be tired, agitated, short-tempered, fatigued and dizzy – so in other words… HANGRY!
Your stomach will growl and cramp when you haven’t eaten an adequate amount which may then result in disrupted sleep and insomnia. And we all know how important sleep is! Building and repairing muscle takes place during our sleep, which can’t happen when there isn’t enough food to work with! You’re literally at risk for so many different issues by eating less than you should be. You can put yourself at risk for extremities such as kidney failure, heart attack and even death in a very extreme case. You will also suffer from mood swings and generally not feel well at all which can hinder relationships, work and everything else in your personal spheres. In the time that I was under-eating, I would always end up having huge splurge or two throughout my week where I would just eat so much until I was so full that I would make myself puke. It’s so embarrassing to admit that but I want to get across to you guys the severity of what can happen to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and doesn’t know how to approach their goals smartly and safely. In all honesty, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to accurately track macronutrients, enjoying the sufficient amounts of foods I was eating all the while achieving the best results I had ever achieved in my whole life! So to go from someone who did so much STRIVING and SUFFERING just to reach my goals, I sought and surrounded myself with credible teachers and knowledgeable people to further educate me and bring me to a place where there was no more striving, instead it was a breeze to be happy and healthy because I was finally doing it the RIGHT way! Sounds crazy hey! Less striving, more results – more striving, stalled results! But in this case, it’s about doing it SMART, not silly and extreme, which is where I think a lot of women’s heads can go when they want to reach a goal so bad but don’t have the tools, education or the resources right away – I mean, I’m the prime example of that haha.
So, ladies believe me when I say that eating enough to supply your body with enough fuel will actually help you to lose weight! I definitely learnt this when I did my first competition prep in 2014 - it was awesome! By consuming enough fuel and adding just enough exercise to your daily routine, it will actually help you lose that stomach fat and body fat as a whole! Not just that, but you will feel soooo so much better too!
If you’re unsure whether you’re actually eating enough or eating too much food, seek a credible coach and/or support crew to help you get you to where you want to be both safely and smartly! My local supplement store Mass Nutrition were also a wealth of knowledge. They all gave me hope and a good foundation to begin my fitness journey right. I just want to encourage you not to be a fool like I once was and seek for the quick, dangerous and unsustainable way of losing body fat! Take it in your stride each day and pursue your goals ingeniously with a clear-cut goal and vision. Once you have the right information and know how your body works, you simply cannot fail! My advice to you is to be patient, enjoy the journey and trust the process – nothing is impossible when you do it right, no matter how long it takes.
Lots of love,