6 Signs You Might Not Be Eating Enough

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These six signs might be indicators that you aren't eating enough to fuel your training 6 Signs You Might Not Be Eating Enough www.runnerclick.com

Most runners are conscious of their diets, and try to make sure they are getting in enough macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep their bodies healthy and strong enough to race well. But a lot of runners, unfortunately, become to hyper-focused on nutrition and put themselves at a big health risk when they start under-fueling their bodies. And this makes sense. Most coaches for professionals, elites, and collegiate runners stress the importance of an “ideal race weight.”  Even non-competitive, everyday runners understand that, by and large, lighter bodies run faster.

But the right nutrition can sometimes feel like a crazy balancing act. How can I really know if I am eating enough, and enough of the right things? If you have experienced any of the below six signs, chances are you are not eating to adequately fuel your activity levels.

You feel lethargic, irritable, and overly tired throughout the day (but maybe also have trouble sleeping at night).

Food gives us energy. When we do not have energy, our bodies tell us to start shutting down and get some rest and sleep. When we are tired, our brains don’t want to (nor do they have the capacity) to function well. If you are not eating enough, you might experience extreme fatigue, and the inability to focus at work, school, or on everyday tasks. Your fatigue might go further than just general tiredness and lethargy though, too. It is very likely that if you are not eating enough, you will soon find yourself just generally burned out even from things you typically love, like running.  You also might find yourself being easily annoyed and unable to keep your cool and have patience with even the smallest annoyances. Yet, the irony is that when we aren’t eating enough and become extremely tired, we might also find it difficult to sleep at night. This could be because we are experiencing intense hunger or because our bodies are depleted of nutrients so we don’t have enough fats to cushion our organs and find comfort or rest.

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You’re hungry… REALLY hungry.

This one might seem obvious, but so often we don’t listen to our body’s own hunger cues. Our bodies are really smart, and they were designed to let us know when they need food. The feeling of hunger is our body’s natural way of letting us know it’s time to eat in order to get the nutrients we need to continue on with our day. If you’re experiencing intense hunger multiple times a day, you’re probably not fueling yourself adequately.

You’re cold all the time.

When our bodies are starving, they start shutting down bodily functions in order to conserve energy in other to keep us alive. The first functions to shut down are the more “non-important” functions – one of which is our body’s ability to regulate temperature.

When the body has to focus more on keeping us alive because we aren’t eating enough, it forgets that it needs to regulate our internal temperatures. So we become very cold, very easily. If you find that you are cold most of the time, even when it is summer and extremely hot outside, you’re probably not eating enough.

Lack of menstrual cycle

This one is for the ladies only, obviously, but it is extremely important as it lets us know if we’re eating enough. Just like body temperature, the body chooses to shut off the menstrual cycle if it’s being underfed because it considers it a “less important” function. And while not having a period might actually sound awesome, it’s an indicator of some major problems. And going too long without a cycle has serious repercussions as far as joint and bone health and fertility are concerned.

You find yourself day-dreaming about weird or uncommon foods and food combinations.

When our bodies are starving, they start salivating over pretty much any and every food imaginable. That’s its way of saying, “I don’t care what it is you feed me. Just feed me!” Consciously thinking about combining typically very different foods (that aren’t normally eaten together) into one meal might seem like a harmless (albeit strange), but it could be an indicator of malnourishment. And if you find yourself subconsciously dreaming about food and weird food combinations while you sleep, chances are you need to eat more.

Your lab results show deficiencies.

There’s no refuting this one. If your lab results show that you are deficient in iron or other vitamins and minerals, it’s probably because you are failing to get them in through food. Iron deficiency is especially indicative of underfeeding – and might also be contributing further to your feelings of apprehension, lethargy, irritability, and fatigue as mentioned above. Furthermore, if a doctor tells you that you are “underweight” and under the BMI that you should be, listen to them, and get some help to gain weight if you need to.

Sources

  1. Franziska Spritzler, 9 Signs That You're Not Eating Enough, Healthline Article, Jun 05, 2017
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