There’s no way around it.
If you want to lose weight, then you have to eat less calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight. It’s simple thermodynamics and a calorie deficit is the very foundation of weight loss.
However, there’s a big difference between eating the right amount of calories to lose weight for your body and starving yourself in the hopes of losing all that excess weight in a couple of days or weeks.
Truth be told, it is possible to eat too little for weight loss (and, to make matters worse, this is something many individuals have willingly done to themselves over the years on account of bad information from magazines, blogs, influencers, and “gurus.”)
Eating too little when trying to lose fat can result in muscle loss, brain fog, poor mood, increased feelings of irritability, and a general slowing of your metabolism.
You see, the body has a bare minimum of calories it needs to just “keep the lights on” for your body and support normal organ function, hormone production, etc. Eating below this level isn’t healthy or sustainable long-term.
This is one of the reasons it’s important to track your calories. This way you know how many calories you need to eat to lose weight without starving yourself. This is also one of the reasons we created the 1UP Fitness app -- to help people sort through the noise and confusion and have an easy-to-understand, reliable place to go to get quality information sans the gimmicks of other outlets.
With that in mind, here are 5 signs that you’re eating too little for weight loss.
Top 5 Signs You’re Eating Too Little for Weight Loss
#1 You’re Always Thinking About Food
Occasional feelings of hunger or cravings are totally normal when dieting (and even at times during the bulking process!). This is one of the main drivers behind the creation of 1UP Appetite Suppressant.
However, if you find that you’re always thinking (or obsessing) about food and/or when’s the next time you get to eat, then you’re probably eating too little for weight loss. Other key signs that you’re eating too little include incessantly staring at food blogs or social media posts about foods, watching cheat day videos on YouTube, or streaming cooking shows all day.
#2 You’re Sleep is Terrible
In addition to thinking about food around the clock, another major sign that you may be eating too little for weight loss is that you have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep during the night.
Part of this may be due to the fact that you’re also thinking about food while trying to go to sleep, or your stomach is rumbling so loudly that it’s preventing you from getting quality sleep.
Either way, if your sleep is a mess so too will your weight loss journey.
The reason for this is that sleep has a direct impact on your hunger and satiety cues (meaning lack of sleep makes you more hungry and less fulfilled following meals, causing you to overeat). Sleep deprivation is also known to reduce energy expenditure, desire to exercise, and athletic performance, each of which decreases how many calories you’re burning throughout the day.
Together, not getting enough sleep can result in eating too many calories all the while reducing how much energy you're burning during the day, which is the perfect recipe for weight gain instead of weight loss.
As such, it’s imperative that you prioritize getting quality sleep each and every night. In addition to making sure you’re not eating too little for weight loss, it also helps to:
- Stick to the same bedtime each night (even on weekends)
- Establish a bedtime ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Keep your room cool and dark
- Avoid blue light 2 hours before bed
- Avoid/limit sources of stress before bed (social media, news outlets, work emails -- if possible, etc.
You can also try using a nighttime relaxation aid, such as 1UP Beauty Dream or Recharge PM, both of which are designed using natural ingredients to help you unwind after a stressful day and slip into the deep, restorative sleep you need to maximize your weight loss.
#3 You’re Cranky & Lethargic
Dieting requires that you eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight each day. And, one of the by-products that accompanies a reduced calorie diet is occasional feelings of low energy or reduced motivation to exercise.
It’s completely normal to have the occasional day where you feel a bit tired, but if you find that you’re so tired that you don’t even have the energy to roll out of bed or go for a walk around the block, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re consuming too few calories.
Moreover, if you find that you're considerably more testy, irritable, or flying off the handle over seemingly meaningless affairs, then you’re probably eating too little for weight loss.
#4 You’re Always Cold
Our bodies maintain tight regulation over our core body temperature. Intense exercise, especially in hot environments, can lead to elevations in core temperature.
On the flip side, immersing yourself in a cold environment (e.g. ice baths) can lower core temperature. Long-term calorie restriction is also known to reduce core temperature.
Part of this is attributed to the fact that certain hormonal changes result from caloric restriction, such as reduced thyroid hormone and HPA axis dysfunction.
Low insulin levels are also known to lead to low body temperature, which is something to be aware of if you are dieting on a very low-carb (or ketogenic) diet.
#5 You’re Constipated
As we mentioned above, the body requires a base level of calories (resting metabolic rate) to sustain life and perform everyday function...including detoxifying your body via using the restroom.
Simply put, if you’re woefully under-eating day in and day out, you’re not giving your body enough energy to “clean out the pipes,” which can cause constipation.
In addition to not eating enough total calories, not eating enough fiber each day can also cause constipation.
Now, it can be hard to get enough fiber when dieting for fat loss (heck many people don’t get enough fiber when they’re NOT dieting). This is why it may be helpful to use a fiber supplement, such as 1UP Fiber Plus, which provides 8 grams of natural fiber along with vitamin C and probiotics to support immunity and gut health.
A calorie deficit is required for weight loss, but you don’t need to starve yourself to get the results you want.
Chronically undereating can stall weight loss progress, impair metabolism, and set the groundwork for an unhealthy relationship with food.
Rather than guessing how much you need to lose weight (or going to some extreme calorie deprivation fad diet), why not check out the 1UP Fitness App, which helps you figure out your calorie and energy needs based on age, sex, experience, goals, etc.
The 1UP Fitness App also offers personalized training programs as well as the ability to track your calorie intake and workouts so that you can see how you’re progressing on your journey to get the body and health you want!
- Soare A, Cangemi R, Omodei D, Holloszy JO, Fontana L. Long-term calorie restriction, but not endurance exercise, lowers core body temperature in humans. Aging (Albany NY). 2011;3(4):374-379. doi:10.18632/aging.100280