Undereating simply means that you are not eating enough calories to fuel your body with the energy that your body needs. The most common way that people under eat is by dieting for an extended period of time (i.e. more than 4-6 months) without a diet break. When this occurs, this causes your body to remain in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time. When this occurs, over time, your body will begin to view this as starvation and will begin to hold on to all of the energy (calories) consumed instead of burning it. As a result, your body learns to function with less and can actually slow down hormones in your body that are responsible for weight loss. This in turn will lead to a weight plateau.
If you have been experiencing hair loss, fatigue, fertility issues, depression, feeling cold all the time, or constipation you may not be providing enough energy and nutrients for your body to thrive at optimal level.
The good news? A reverse diet will help correct this and will help you overcome or avoid a weight plateau.
A reverse diet is a strategic way of slowly increasing your calories to recharge your metabolism so that it is more efficient at burning calories. But how can more calories cause me to lose weight? Adding more calories is like adding more fuel to the flame (i.e. metabolism). By strategically eating more food over time you are providing your body with the energy/nutrients it needs to function which will switch your body from a mode of starvation to thriving. Your body's metabolism and the hormones that regulate your metabolism will begin to work efficiently to burn calories instead of storing them which in turn will lead to weight loss.
It's only up from here...
Stop and count how many calories you are eating and compare this to the amount you should be eating. To provide your body with enough energy to survive and give you the energy you need throughout the day, you MUST eat at least at your BMR (basal metabolic rate). You can use any calculator app to find your basal metabolic rate. Once you find that out, you want to count the number of calories you eat within a day. If you find that you are eating below your BMR you should reverse your diet so that you can give your body the energy it needs to survive/thrive. Unfortunately, a reverse diet your body will begin to hold on to every calories you eat versus burning it, simply because it doesn’t have enough to survive.
Take a deeper look at the quality of your calories. Macros are made up of the three building blocks of nutrition: carbs, fats, and protein. When taking a close look at the quality of your calories, start by looking at the number of grams of carbs, fat, and protein that you should be eating within a day to either lose or maintain your weight. You then want to track your macros and compare this to what you are actually eating. This may key in on foods that may be higher in fat or carb content, and that could very well be compromising your weight loss. Let’s say that you eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight, but when you take a deeper look at the quality of your calories almost 50% of your calories are from fat, 35% are from carbs, and only 15% are from protein. So although you are eating a low calorie diet, most of your food is actually being stored as fat which in turn will increase your body fat percentage and pretty much defeat your purpose of weight loss. So the name of the game here is to improve the quality of your calories by making sure that your meals are balanced. This is exactly why I created my I-C-P and PLATED 3-2-1 methods to help my clients easily identify higher quality foods and to ensure that they are adequately portioned for weight loss.
Eat more whole foods at least 3 times a day. The easiest way to correct under eating is by adding more whole foods to your diet. By eating more food, you provide more energy and nutrients to your body, which adds "fuel to the fire" (your metabolism) to burn energy/calories. What are whole foods? Foods that have nutritional value in the form of complex carbs, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and health fats. Non-whole foods are foods like chips, smoothies, fast/processed foods, etc. The goal is to eat at least 3 meals daily that are made of up of whole foods from each food group (carbs, healthy fats, and protein).
Wondering who I am to tell you how you are eating?
Well I am glad you asked...
Hey, I am Dr. Tamara Richards
I am a board-certified clinical pharmacist and certified nutritionist.