Recently, I came across an article, “Are You Underfueling”, in an popular fitness magazine. Click here for the article or go to http://www.oxygenmag.com/article/underfueling-9841. The author, Jessie Shafer, did a nice job of outlining the signs of not feeding our bodies enough on a regular basis. This is one of the first times I have come across an article addressing this subject. For so many years, we have been told by the diet industry to cut calories and increase our activity levels to loose weight, but this is a slippery and often tricky slope. If you are an active person this way of thinking gets even more sticky. This hit home for me because I had just that mindset for many years. I used to look in magazines and think, wow, I could look like that if I just ate less and worked out more. Or if I skipped a meal today, I would eat less and loose weight. Oh what a tangled web we weave for ourselves, right?
Our bodies need fuel! Good, quality fuel. I didn’t fully understand that a calorie is NOT a calorie. A calorie of sugar is not the same as a calorie of a carrot. Our grocery stores are full of non-nutrient dense calories and nutrient dense calories. Yes, even Whole Foods folks. We need to look for ways to load our meals with the nutrient rich foods. Make every calorie count toward fueling our body.
So what happens when we skip a meal (whatever meal)? Our metabolism takes the hit. It slows down and looks for ways to pull nutrients already in our body. Let’s face it, when we skip a meal, we don’t stop moving and go lie down, right? Nooooo, we continue with our day as busy as it may be and balance stress, work, kids, schedules, demands just like normal. We demand that our bodies keep going with us. We even get upset when we get a headache, or feel tired or lethargic in the afternoon because we don’t have time for that! Got to keep going. And our bodies do their best to cooperate until something has to give. Usually that something is our energy, so we grab some caffeine or a carbohydrate snack and keep going. In order to meet the demands of your day, you have to fuel your body!
Signs that you are not eating enough present themselves in many ways. Sometimes it is fatigue at the gym. Other times it is lack of desire to go to the gym or get moving. Anxiety can be another form along with intestinal issues and poor sleep quality. ” Feeling fatigued, lethargic, sore and weak can be common signs of not fueling properly,” explains Jessica Crandall RDN, CDE spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Underfueling over the long run can lead to long term health impacts too. These impacts include a weakened immune system, bone loss, bone fractures, and even loss of thyroid function (hint: hormones). Vitamin deficiencies just add to the list. Crandall goes on to explain that “not meeting your nutritional needs and creating vitamin deficiencies makes it more difficult for you to loose weight in the future.” This is not a cycle you want to stay in.
You want to feel your best and help your body function it’s best everyday. The way to avoid this is to balance your day with fuel throughout and choose the best foods at each meal.