Skip to main content

Common Challenges: The Vicious Cycle of eating too little

Everybody has an individual resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the minimum amount of calories it takes for your body to function, including breathing, absorption and digestion.  An activity factor is added to your RMR that configures how many additional calories are needed to function on a daily basis.  The more activity you engage in, the more calories your body needs to function.  Once you add the activity level to the RMR you have your total energy expenditure (TEE) or estimated amount of energy it takes to perform all activities in a day.  When your body is not getting enough of the minimal amount of calories it needs to function, your body will think its starving.  Every time your body thinks its starving it breaks down stored protein and fat to provide energy to ‘get things done.’  If this becomes a consistent event, the next times you eat your body will store all nutrients as fat to prepare itself for the next fast.  In addition, your metabolism stalls and learns how to use fewer calories to function. 

So there we have the vicious cycle.  You eat too little, your body reacts and stores your food as fat to prevent a fast, it then lowers your resting metabolic rate. You go out on Friday night to have a couple beers, eat out Saturday night and Sunday and before you know it you ate or drank three hundred additional calories each night.  This total of nine hundred calories contributes to .25 pounds a week which you might not even detect on your scale. That leads to one pound a month and twelve pounds a year.  Sound familiar?

I have many clients who have come to me ready to restrict further or exercise more to lose weight.  After we sit down and discuss daily intake and exercise habits, they are absolutely shocked when I tell them the issue is that they actually have to eat more.   When I ask most if they are hungry they usually reply no. Did you know anorexia is a side effect of starvation?

Other symptoms of eating too little are low blood pressure, gallstones, heart arrhythmias, nutrient deficiencies, hair loss, brittle fingernails, dizziness, anemia, or depression.  A dietitian is the only clinician who can recommend a calorie level to an individual. He or she is licensed and registered to do so and is trained specifically on human metabolism. Everybody’s ‘number’ is different and depends on age, weight, height, activity levels and co morbidities.

Are you skeptical? Kindred Nutrition is always welcoming newcomers into our community. It’s worth the assessment if you have any of the symptoms above, have a plateau with your weight, or just need a kick start.  Good luck and be well.


Popular posts from this blog

Nutrition Tips: Fat Isn't the Enemy (FITE)

We hear so much about carbs and protein.  Some people claim a high protein diet is the best way to lose weight, or there are people who insist everyone should only eat carbs from the low glycemic list. But fat doesn’t make the conversation much, and that’s because we all know we need to avoid it, right? Fat is evil.  Almost as despicable as gluten...but not quite. 
Dietary fat (I wish we could come up with a better word for this) is found in animal products - meats, dairy - yogurt, cheese, milk, and eggs, but we can also find it in nature with our nuts, seeds, and avocado.  Of course, our baked goods like muffins and cookies have fat are included in the ingredients to make them moist and tasty!  
Food companies have made it entirely POSSIBLE to eat a fat-free diet.  And why wouldn’t you want to? Fat (okay, I’m thinking of a new word now) has been demonized during the past few decades.  We’ve heard that eating too much fat, or any at all depending on who you listen to, will cause us to b…

Insightful Intern - Eating to Lose Weight

In order to lose weight, we often are told that energy out must be greater than energy in.   In other words, calories taken in must be less than the calories we use in all of our daily activities.  So, to lose weight we cut calories and try to increase activity.  (Granted, there is more to weight loss/maintenance than just an exchange in energy.  What if we cut too many calories or don’t eat enough?
Since I started at Kindred Nutrition, I’ve heard many of Amy’s or Dawn’s clients talk about how they’ve cut back on calories to lose weight but have hit a weight-loss plateau.  Many a time when a client discusses this occurrence, we eventually come to the conclusion that the client is not eating enough.  This probably sounds foreign but you do need to eat in order to lose weight!  If you’re not eating enough your body goes into “starvation mode.”   Then whenever you do eat your body automatically stores those calories as fat because it is worried that it is not going to get enough calorie…

The Insightful Intern - Katie Wanger

The insightful Intern: Katie Wagner – Bio: I’m a dog fanatic.  I have three brothers.  I love the outdoors.  I’m a huge advocate of good nutrition and exercise, but I am also an ice cream connoisseur of sorts.  Contradicting yes, but I figure balance is important in all aspects of life.  
How did I get here?
Upon beginning my junior year at Virginia Tech, I had set a goal to find an internship by the end of that school year doing something which would involve what I ultimately wanted to do with my life.  I was looking for something dream-fulfilling, if you will… Paid or unpaid – it didn’t matter to me.   I thought that if I could just find an internship I would better my chances at eventually being able to find a job which would aid me in paying off the mountains of debt I currently owe Virginia Tech (seeing as at this rate I will owe them my first born son) and I wanted to find something that might also bring a little joy to my life.  The only problem with this goal is that at the b…