FNK results

Under eating – how it could be ruining your results

In today’s society it’s drummed into us to lose weight and get results we need to eat less and move more.  But it’s not that cut and dry.  Sure in cases of morbid obesity cutting calories is must, but the majority of the clients I see who are struggling to get results, it’s because they are actually under eating.   


We are socially conditioned to under eat.   Particularly women.   Women constantly compare themselves to each other – purposefully not eating much when in a group, and even if you are highly active, will match the food intake of those less active to avoid attention or ridicule.

The body is a complicated machine, it’s way smarter than accepting a dramatic drop in calories and letting go of body fat.  We are conditioned to believe a massive calorie deficit will result in dramatic weight loss, and then get frustrated when not matter how little we eat, we still don’t get results.


Big diet companies such as Jenny Craig, Lite N Easy, Isagenix, Tony Ferguson (the list is endless) are perfect examples of encouraging the calorie drop mantra.  And yes, all of these diet plans TO achieve weight loss.   HOWEVER, only if you are doing “light” exercise.  Take a look at the fine print and you will discover it is indeed NOT recommended to do intense exercise at all.  

This is the exercise recommendations of one of the “diet” programs…..Now if all is recommended is vacuuming, you have to seriously question the calorie consumption!  If they recommend more?  Hello lawsuit!  


What types of exercise will I do on ************?

On ***********, you should gradually increase your activity through a combination of natural, planned and playful physical activities, learning how to incorporate more activity into your everyday routine.

  • Natural activities include everyday tasks such as washing dishes or light cleaning – even shopping! You’ll learn to identify opportunities for activity that you might not be aware of, like walking around during your child’s sports game or vacuuming during the TV commercials.
  • Planned activities – make sure your exercise regimen is well-rounded, incorporating cardio, resistance, and stretching. Examples include walking, yoga, pilates or dance.
  • Playful activities – give permission for you to take the time to be active without taking quality time away from family and friends. Instead of going to a movie with friends, try dancing, cycling or joining your kids in the park for a ball game.

The bottom line: it’s not a strenuous exercise regimen.  


Great! You may think….I don’t have to work my ass off after all!  Trouble is you’re now stuck on this plan for the rest of your life because as soon as you jump off, the weight jumps back on.  And you’re probably doing all these things already without even being on a “plan”!!!!


So what happens to your body when you under eat?  

Your body needs a balanced and consistent fuel source to perform optimally.  You will not hold onto body fat, or increase body fat for no reason.  Its because the energy systems are completely out of whack.  You can exercise as much as you like, but if the nutrition balance is all wrong, your results will be too.  


When you don’t eat enough, your body reduces active thyroid hormone, shuts down sex hormone production, and raises stress hormones like cortisol.  Chronically elevated cortisol leads to both leptin and insulin resistance, an unhealthy hormonal state that promotes body fat and water retention, and causes long-term health issues that go way beyond weight loss resistance.

When resources (calories) are scarce, the body prioritizes essential functions (like respiration, and regulating body temperature and blood pressure) over things like rebuilding muscle tissue. Inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength or size, and the energy deficit can seriously weaken your power in training sessions in general.




Your weight loss is muscle mass not body fat….

To ensure basic survival, the body will also slow down your metabolism and hold onto body fat to conserve energy.  Add the stress of training as well and instead of letting go of that body fat, your body will seek out the next available fuel source to keep functioning.  Protein. And where is the best source of protein? Your muscles.  Your body will essentially “eat” your muscles to survive.  So while you may notice a drop in weight on the scales, chances are it’s all muscle mass loss.  


Cravings and late night snacking……

When the body is under nourished,  it loves nothing more than a quick fix.  Feeling that 3pm slump?  Eating dinner then still managing to demolish a packet of tim tams?  Having endless cups of coffee or energy drinks?   These are all blaring sirens that your body is needing fuel. And fast.  

Many people have told me they eat too much, because that tub of ice cream that was meant to be a “treat” lasted 1 night.   Drill down and look at the rest of their day and they barely consumed 1000 calories – They were lucky if they ate 3 meals.   You’re not overeating my friends!  You’re under eating the right stuff!  You eat enough during the day of a healthy mix of carbs, fats, and protein….your body will stop seeking out the quick fixes.  And double bonus! You get to eat more not less!!


Not being hungry at all…….

This is another classic.  These are the clients that try to convince me that aren’t ever hungry and still scratch their heads why they aren’t getting anywhere.  It’s not that they just aren’t hungry.  They’ve under eaten and been in this state so long that the body has now dropped its metabolism, blood pressure, and resting heart rate to survive in permanent starvation mode. Its an epic battle to educate these clients that it’s a bad thing NOT to be hungry.   You have to be concerned when one of the basic human functions becomes non existent!!  Get them out in the gym and 20mins they are falling on the floor.  The go to response is they are just unfit.  Nope,  the body just cannot cope with the added demand of exercise.  


Performance in the gym…..

When your body is lacking fuel, to put it bluntly, your efforts in the gym will be completely futile.  

Not only will you never feel you are getting stronger, fitter, or faster, under stress your body’s’ capability to perform basic motor skills becomes compromised as well.  Coordination, balance, decision making, disorientation, proper engaging of muscles are all effected when the body is under the epic of stress of just trying to help you survive the session!  As mentioned earlier, all available resources go to keeping the vital organs functioning, rather than helping you smash out a new PB!  


When you realise that fueling your body is not the enemy, but your best friend when it comes to achieving your goals, that’s when the magic happens.  I’ve seen it hundreds of times over!  Sure it can be a terrifying concept and  totally counter intuitive to eat more to achieve more, but asking your body to run perfectly on nothing is like expecting your car to run purely on fumes.   


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