Calorie Deficit Red Flags: 6 Signs You Need More Calories to Fuel Your Workouts
6 Signs You’ve Actually Cut Back Too Much
Obviously, being mindful of what and how much you eat is crucial. Failing to fuel your body, however, can derail your fitness journey and lead to counterproductive and even destructive results.
When it comes to health and fitness, there’s no denying that what you eat is equally as important as what you do in order to achieve your goals. Whether the main focus is losing weight, gaining muscle, or a combination of both, how you fuel your body can really make or break the trajectory of your fitness journey.
In today’s society - where food is constantly available and in quantities and qualities deemed unhealthy for the general public - it’s become increasingly difficult to navigate what a healthy diet actually looks like. So, in a backlash response to this culture of excess, convenience and indulgence, you get extremely restrictive diets and potentially unhealthy habits like obsessing over calorie counts.
All too often, however, this much-warranted attention to diet manifests solely as a need to cut down on calories - at the sacrifice of a healthy, balanced diet.
Here are 8 signs of an unhealthy calorie deficit to watch out for - be on the lookout for these so you’ll know immediately if you’ve cut back too much…
6. You Feel Burnt Out All the Time
The math is simple: The majority of the population has a natural resting metabolic rate of 1000 calories or higher, with an exercise regimen raising that rate by double or more. Your daily caloric intake in relation to your resting metabolic rate is what determines whether you lose, gain, or maintain your weight. A certain amount of caloric deficit is beneficial in a healthy weight loss plan, but when it becomes too much, your metabolism will slow down and your body will start to shut down. If you notice yourself struggling to muster the energy for your workouts or even daily tasks more than ever, it’s a good sign you’re not giving enough revv to the engine.
5. You Have Issues Sleeping
In addition to feeling constantly fatigued, another seemingly cruel and paradoxical side effect of not getting enough calories is the inability to get the restful sleep you so need and long for. Interruptions in your sleep cycle and a reduced average time per night spent in what’s called slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, are both commonly found in those with detrimentally restrictive diets. What’s more is that sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain and insulin resistance, where insulin plays an important part of nutrition digestion and utilization in the body, throwing a massive wrench into any weight loss plans you might be striving for.
4. You Feel Sorer For Longer Post-Workout
While post-workout muscle soreness is natural and even a positive sign of a solid sweat session, fatigue that lasts more than a few days warrants a second consideration. Getting the proper nutrition for the intensity of your physical activity is key in both muscle recovery and rebuilding the strength for your next workout. Malnutrition is no joke, and can lead to excessive soreness, muscle degrading, and even higher risk of injury. Protein is especially important in this case, so be sure that your diet implements the recommended daily amount for your body and activity level (looking at you, vegans and veggies!).
3. You Get Dizzy & Light-Headed
Have you ever stood up too fast and had what’s sometimes called a temporary ‘black out’, ‘seeing stars’ or ‘tunnel vision’? Maybe you’ve experienced it as feeling like your were spinning, sudden onset neausea, or as if you were about to faint. While these symptoms can be anxiety-inducing and certainly not fun, they are quite common of not getting enough sugar, especially in those with low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. This drop in blood sugar can really knock the stuffing out of you, and frequently experiencing lightheadedness is a sure sign that you’re not supplying your body with enough energy.
2. Your Hair & Nails Are Thinning
Shedding several hair strands a day is completely normal and natural, and we lose on average around 100 hairs a day. But if you’ve started noticing larger clumps than usual in your shower drain lately, however, it could be a sign of something going on.
The same is true with your nails - brittle, fragile and easily chipped nails might be your body trying to tell you it needs more sustenance in the form calories, protein, biotin, iron and other nutrients. This unfortunate circumstance happens because your body has a list of priorities, so to speak, and the health of vital organs like your heart and brain trump out your hair and nails.
1. You Have Trouble Concentrating
It’s safe to say all of us are guilty of being caught zoning out into space while staring at a blank spreadsheet, or getting to the end of a page in your book only to realize you haven’t comprehended any of it and need to start over. It’s common to have trouble concentrating every once in a while, but if you’ve noticed your lack of focus getting worse - or even having issues processing sensory information like sounds and colors, you might need to give your brain some more food.
Furthermore, while brain fog is a beast of a phenomenon on its own, added consequences like increased anxiety, irritability, low energy levels and constant feelings of hunger only compile onto the problem and exponentially worsen it.
If you’re watching what you eat for a better physique and improved overall health - power to ya, warrior. As you adjust your diet, you’ll get a feel for what your body needs, but now you know the 6 big warning signs to watch out for when working a calorie deficit diet so you don’t derail your progress.
Above all else, don’t forget it’s crucial to fuel your body with enough food that has plenty of diversity in essential nutrients - without this energy for physical exertion, as well as your muscular and cell repair, you’ll be doing your body more harm than good.
Fuel up with the good stuff in the right portions and you’ll be right on track to look, feel and function at your best!
Maggie Johnson | MME Lifestyle Contributor