But Before You House That Box Of Double Stuffed Oreos, Read This.
Our culture is obsessed with being thin, so it’s only natural that many of us are conscience about not eating too much. Eat less, weigh less—aside from totally sucking, it sounds pretty simple, right? Not so fast, friends.
Undereating is real! Dare I suggest that this is one of the most common diet issues facing both men and women today. Not only can undereating cause serious health issues, from bone deterioration to infertility, but not eating enough can actually inhibit fat loss (gasp!) and totally screw up your metabolism.
There are two types of undereaters.
The first is someone who consumes a lot of calories, but is not getting enough nutrients. These “empty” calories normally come from sugar, processed foods, alcohol and having too much of one thing (i.e. too much protein at one sitting or only eating one type of food).
The second is someone who just doesn’t eat enough to sustain their lifestyle. People who fall into category number two are often trying to lose weight and hitting the gym hard.
Before we move on, let’s clear up a couple of myths about calories:
1. Consuming 1200 calories as day is not some magic weight loss formula for women. We all need to get over that. Like stat.
2. Not all calories were created equal (cue undereater #1). 100 calories worth of Doritos is not equivalent to 100 calories worth of apples. Your body breaks down (or attempts to break down) these foods very differently.
3. If you are working out and burning calories, your body needs food to recover. If you are overtraining and undereating you will naturally begin to burn muscle and conserve fat.
Worried that you might be an undereater? Here are a few signs:
1. You’re trying to lose weight and the scale is not budging: your body is literally clutching to that fat like a mother to a newborn baby and your muscles are unable to build.
2. You can’t get pregnant or are not getting your period: enough said.
3. You’re cold all the time: OK, you can also be cold for other reasons, like if you live in Antartica, but if you're still cold in Miami that might be an indicator.
4. Moodiness: also known as being a HANGRY B****!
5. Fatigue: your body needs fuel so you will have energy to do all of your things.
So how much do you need to eat?
We’re all different, but think in terms of quality, not quantity. It is very hard to eat 2000 calories of vegetables in one day. Try it, I dare you. Eat real foods—and plenty of them—and you’ll never have to worry about overeating.
I recommend 4-5 smaller meals per day with protein and vegetables to ensure your body is getting a steady stream of nutrients. You can only take in so many nutrients at once, so spacing it out over smaller meals is a good way to make all your calories count.
OK…now run to the fridge and have a celebratory spoonful of peanut butter (or two).