When we talk to clients about how much they are eating, the common trend we see is that most people are eating too much. The quantities they are consuming are double, sometimes triple, the recommended amount for an adult.
However, while overeating is definitely a concern, under-eating can be just as dangerous to one’s health. Although this seems contradictory to losing weight, it is important that we are eating enough. We know that what we eat fuels the way our body functions.
When we under-eat, our organs and muscles do not have enough nutrients to propel us through the day. That means feelings of sluggishness, exhaustion, and lack of ability to perform at the gym.
Now you might think, well I am willing to feel tired if it means losing weight quickly. However, that is not actually the case. When we are under-eating, meaning fewer calories than your body needs to function, our body begins to look to other places for fuel. Instead of burning body fat to lose that weight, we actually burn muscle first because it is easier to convert to glucose and be used for energy.
The numbers you see on the scale might be decreasing, but they are decreasing due to muscle loss, not fat loss. Undereating means our body is slowing down our metabolism and putting your body into starvation mode, similar to bears hibernating.
Therefore, when we go back to eating more calories, which we must inevitability do, we will gain that body fat back quicker. We talk about behaviour changes, meal plans, and eating balanced meals. At the end of the day, the goal is not to drastically limit our calories for the day.
You have to listen to your body. Did you do a hard workout and feel hungry?
Have an extra balanced snack even if you go over the calories. Make sure you eat eating around your workouts and consistently throughout the day. Clients who skip meals tend to overeat later in the day.
As long as you are eating the right foods and changing your habits for the better to promote a lifestyle change, the calorie count is only one piece of the puzzle that will lead you to success.
Get into a routine, slow down and fuel your body for optimal health and performance.
Nicole Nicole Aucoin, RD Founder Healthy Steps Nutrition Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring