Why Under-Eating Could Be Causing Weight Gain

Have you been down this journey?

You exercise multiple days a week, you think you eat healthy, but you still aren’t seeing any progress in your body-composition or on the scale.


All too often, I have clients who come to me who are eating at a calorie deficit, but are not seeing any progress.  So what gives?


There is such a thing as TOO BIG of a calorie deficit.  Our body has basic biological needs, and how do you think it is able to perform those needs each day?  That’s right, with calories (aka energy)! On average, in a given day, females burn around 1200-1600 calories AT REST, while males burn around 1600-2000 calories a day AT REST.  So that means, even without exercise, our body has pretty large needs in terms of calories each day.


These calories each day get used by, among other things,:

·     Our Brain – Burns up to 20% of our daily calories!  Used for neural signaling and replenishment of brain cells.

·     Our Liver – Converts nutrients from the food we eat into substances our body can use, detoxes the body, and helps produce the enzymes we need to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into things we can absorb.

·     Our Kidneys –  Filters our blood and helps maintain the proper balance of sodium, potassium, water, and other minerals in our body to keep blood pressure in check.  

·     Our Hearts – Pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood daily!  Taking oxygen poor blood and returning oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.


So when we are deciding to eat 1000 calories a day to try to ‘lose weight fast’, what you are actually doing is impairing the body’s ability to function properly.  The body still needs energy too – so guess what it does? Well, a couple things will happen:


1. Your Metabolism Will Slow Down –For your body to be able to still keep you alive, it will start to slow down your metabolism so that it can utilize the calories more efficiently since it isn’t getting enough!! This makes it even HARDER to lose weight AND often results in weight coming back on when you eat more than 1000 calories a day.

With the metabolism slowing down, this can also impact your thyroid function – which impacts hormone function.  It turns into a nasty downwards spiral.

2. Your body will hold onto body fat – And it may even start to store body-fat more easily.  It isn’t going to give up that precious cargo it needs to keep you alive. It think’s you are starving!! So why would it burn body-fat?

3. It may start to break down muscle tissue for energy – If your body needs energy, it will often break down muscle mass for amino acids to utilize as energy.  And if you are weight-training, your body will not get what it needs to repair broken down muscle tissue, and you will in turn lose strength.  So good-bye getting that ‘toned’ look you are after!



So at the end of the day, you have now slowed down your body’s metabolism causing you to maintain body fat, you’ve jacked up your hormones and thyroid, and you are losing your precious, hard-earned muscle!  



And the hard reality is that if you are trying to lose weight, you may need to bring your calories back up to a maintenance level and not see any weight loss for 2-3 months before your body is READY to lose weight.  That’s right, our body has to be ready to lose weight. So next time you are planning to cut calories in hopes of seeing the scale move or your body-composition change, get help from a nutritional coach that can assist you in finding the right calorie deficit for YOU and your body’s current state.  

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