Thrive/Strive

Why Being an Under-Eater Is Holding You Back

Getting the Body You Want Doesn't Mean Eating a Leaf

When it comes to eating there doesn’t seem to be a person on the planet that is Goldilocks.

You either don’t enough or you eat too much. There is never a just right.

Many people may think that if they eat less, they are going to be healthier. This isn’t necessarily true because it depends on what you are putting into your body.

If you stick to only one box of Twinkies as opposed to the 3 a day you are accustomed to, then yes, you are getting a little bit healthier. However, if you are trying to eat less salad then you probably aren’t getting the proper nutrients into your system.

Whether you are physically active or not, it is important to get the proper amount of food in your body. Food is the fuel that keeps your body going at all times throughout the day.

Have you ever been in a car that runs out of gas? It sucks.

That’s what happens to your body at lunch time or when you get home from work. It runs out of gas.

Over-eating is an obvious health problem, but under-eating is something that can hold you back just as much.

Under-eating will cause a different set of problems, but it will also cause many of the same problems as overeating. Finding the healthy balance between under eating and over eating is a major key to having a healthy body.

Working Out and Eating

Let’s assume that you are physically active and do enjoy working out or at least you are wanting to start getting to that point (which is probably why you’re on this site). Eating too little can significantly hinder the progress you want to make when it comes to your body.

Working out causes your body to lose a lot of important proteins and other nutrients so it is important that you do what you can to replenish everything your body just used during the workout. This is the only way your body will be able to make the progress it should make.

Not consuming enough of what you lost will make your body slowly regress.

No progress will be made at all.

You just ran 5 miles, did 200 push-ups, 75 squats, and 2 burpees. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself because you know your body is going to look awesome, but guess what? If you don’t replenish it with the right fuel all of that working out isn’t going to benefit you as much as you thought.

You are working so hard to try and make progress, you might as well do everything you possibly can to help yourself. Don’t only do half the battle. Give yourself the opportunity to succeed the way you want to.

You’ll Keep That Fat

“No, it’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality.”

When you don’t eat enough after a workout, your body will do what it can to keep that unwanted fat that is already on your body.

Your body knows when it doesn’t have the necessary nutrients and will ensure that it maintains the right balance of everything. At this point, your body will do what it can to conserve as much energy as possible.

For example, your body uses fat as a source of energy, so when it’s trying to save as much energy as possible, it’s not going to burn that fat. Not using as much energy leads to less fat being lost.

Not eating enough food, especially after a workout, promotes certain hormones in your body to take over, in particular, the hormones that help you store body fat. As they say, six packs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

All you have to do is eat more food to help reduce the fat on your body. Foods containing high amounts of protein and the right kind of carbs after a workout. Maybe more food is misleading. You might be able to eat the same amount of food as do you now, but you need to find foods that are packed with the nutrients that your body needs.

This can be difficult so the usual solution is to simply eat more food.

Yes, I understand that this sounds a little weird and backward, but your body is a crazy machine that works in ways that may seem backward at times. This seemingly backward way of working should make you feel better, though.

You don’t have to necessarily focus on the amount you’re eating if you are already not eating enough. You can stuff your face a little bit. How many people are going to actually tell you something like that?

Eat, eat, eat. Give your body what it needs.

Working Out Is Harder

“Well this calls for a toast”

Not only will not eating enough not give you the proper amount of energy you need throughout the day, it’ll make things much harder when you are trying to workout.

Your body needs to get its energy from somewhere. When there is nothing for the body to get its energy from, you aren’t going to get it. You won’t be able to power through your workouts if the fuel isn’t there to back them up.

You will have zero energy. You won’t be able to to get the necessary energy even through a cup of coffee or energy drink. These are just temporary solutions that will make you feel even worse when the effects wear off.

Another reason why working out is going to be way more difficult is because your body is going to start prioritizing other functions before putting more focus on the workout. You will feel as though you’re pushing yourself just as hard as you were the day before, but in reality, you probably aren’t anywhere close to how you were.

You won’t have the same amount of power. You won’t feel as strong. You will feel like you aren’t making much progress at all because, in all honesty, you really aren’t. What’s the point of even working out if you aren’t going to improve yourself at all? That’s why everybody works out, right? They are trying to improve themselves.

Something as simple as a granola bar can make a huge difference before a workout. When you really need a proper energy boost prior to a workout, look towards the lighter foods. Look to have fruits. Apples, bananas, and oranges, basically any fruit is good for you before a workout. They aren’t too heavy in the stomach and they will provide you a little bit more energy when that workout really starts to get tough.

You need to set yourself up for success and not eating enough is greatly hindering your progress. Why make your workouts harder for yourself when you really don’t need to have that happen? It’s good to push yourself in the gym, but only when you are at 100%.

When you aren’t able to be at your peak performance, your body suffers even more.

Muscle Growth Will Stop

“Well I’ll look at it this way, I mean technically our marriage is saved”

When you aren’t eating enough, your body is, like I mentioned earlier, going to start prioritizing certain functions over others.

So, for example, your body is going to try to regulate your blood pressure before focusing on recovering your muscles and allowing them to grow.

Why does this happen?

It’s because regulating blood pressure is much more important to your body’s maintenance than gaining muscle. Same goes for your body trying to regulate its body temperature.

Your body does whatever it can to keep its temperature at a point where you aren’t going to freeze from the inside out or have your blood boil (which is at around 100 degrees if you didn’t know). So, the less fuel you have in your body, the more your body has to do to ration the fuel it does have and the less it can do for other aspects of your body.

Not only does under eating prevent muscle growth, it’ll prevent your overall recovery from a workout. When you can’t recover properly, you can’t perform the next day. Then you are bringing your level down for the day after that and so on. It’s an endless cycle unless you start to do the proper things when it comes to your food intake.

When you aren’t progressing at all, you aren’t going to build any muscle and sometime down the road, you could honestly be worse off than when you started.

All of this is coming from not eating enough.

Remember that.

Eat the food you need to eat and eat the right amount of it.

Sleeping Is Harder

“So, pour the champagne, pour the champagne”

Yes, sleep will come harder.

You will probably already be exhausted, but not understand why you can’t get the amount of sleep you really want.

If you don’t eat enough, your sleep schedule could be thrown off completely. Not saying that you will be up all night, but you will struggle to get a full nights rest. You will be waking up every few hours.

Have a normal dinner before going to bed. Not immediately before bed, but somewhere in the area of two hours before sleeping. This is the time to really get all of the food groups in your body so that your body has time to process it for the next day.

Get the grains, get the carbs, get the protein. Get as many nutrients in your body as possible.

It’s important to remember that when you aren’t getting all of these important nutrients, getting that entire nights sleep without waking up will be much, much harder to come by.

Having a lack of sleep leads us back to our bodies holding on to that fat we are working so hard to get rid of and a lack of energy when it comes to our workouts.

But why does under-eating cause sleep to become more difficult? Chris Kresser has the answer:

One reason for this likely comes from the improved blood sugar control that arises from an appropriate calorie and carbohydrate intake. As your blood sugar drops overnight, your liver must release its stored glucose (in the form of glycogen) to keep your blood sugar steady.

If you’re constantly under-eating, and especially if you’re overexercising on top of that, your liver won’t have the glycogen stores it needs to keep your blood sugar stable, and your body must release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to promote gluconeogenesis, the process of creating new glucose. If these stress hormones elevate high enough, they can actually wake you up in the middle of the night.

As you can see, undereating is starting to connect a lot of dots you may not have known were there.

If the progress you are trying to make could be measured on a line, you would be able to see a lot of gaps or plateaus in the line because you aren’t eating enough food.

How Much Should I Eat?

“No, I can’t help but to hear an exchanging of words”

This is a tough question to answer only because everyone is different. Everyone has different body types, which plays a huge factor when it comes to what is happening inside your body.

Two people who are the same height and weight may need to have a completely different amount of food after a workout. It’s all about how their body reacts and recovers.

I wish there was a definite answer to this question, but there really isn’t. There are only recommended amounts. Ranges for the amount you should actually eat after workouts.

Obviously, the bigger your frame and stature, the more you are going to have to eat. The smaller you are, the less you need to eat.

This article does a good job at explaining the amount of food you should actually eat and what kind of food as well.

If you don’t feel like reading the long article, here is a brief explanation. Make sure that what you consume after your workout mainly consists of proteins and carbs. This article talks about how much carbs and proteins you should consume per kilogram of your bodyweight. To help make things a little easier for you, 1 kilogram is a little more than 2 pounds.

A sufficient amount of carbs that you should consume after a workout is about 1 gram per 2 pounds of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should try to consume about 75 grams of carbs after a workout. Please remember that not all carbs are created equally. Nobody is telling you to open a sack of sugar and pour it into your mouth.

When it comes to proteins, you should try to get about 0.3 grams per 2 pounds of your body weight. So, if you’re that same 150 pounds, like in the earlier example, you should try to get about 50 grams of protein in your body after a workout.

Like I said earlier, it’s hard to give an exact amount of how much you really should eat because everybody is different. These are just the recommended amounts that you should try to get in your body.

For some, this may be a good minimum for them to get in. For others, this may be the max amount they can take in. It all depends on your body and you will eventually find the proper balance.

Don’t Just Focus On Carbs and Proteins

“No, it’s much better to face these kinds of things”

After working out, it is very important to ensure you get the right amount of carbs and proteins, but don’t put all of your focus on those two. There are other foods and nutrients that your body can use that are just as important when it comes to refueling your body.

Immediately after working out, you should avoid the fats. Consuming fats after a workout could inhibit the absorption of the carbs and proteins you are trying to get your body to take in.

There are fats that are essential for your body.

Don’t neglect the fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairies. All of these give you essential vitamins and minerals that only help your body. It keeps your body running like a well-oiled machine.

Keeping Your Body Where It Should Be

“I chime in with a ‘Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?!'”

When you don’t eat enough, your body will never be at 100%. You will be struggling through each day, especially if you are trying to workout.

Don’t be scared to eat. Your body will thank you if you are putting the right things into it. Don’t believe me? Read this article how to build a healthy relationship with food.

Under-eating can happen because of overthinking. Don’t overthink your diet. When you do this, you are only hurting yourself. Let loose a little bit. Allow yourself to get the food you want and truly need.

If you are able to do this, you will feel like a different person on a daily basis and be able to perform at a high level whenever you go workout.

If you really want to make progress with your body, it’s going to take discipline and dedication. Things will never be easy but one of the easiest things you can focus on when it comes to your body is eating, especially after a workout. Do the hard work in the gym and in the kitchen.

P.S. – The quotes in this article are from “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco

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