Signs You Might Not Be Eating Enough

signs of not eating enough

9 Signs You May Not Be Eating Enough

Figuring out how many calories and how much to eat in a day is tough, because there’s SO many factors that play into it: age, height, bodyweight, current body composition, digestion, hormones, how you workout, activity levels inside and outside the gym, your eating history, your sleep and alcohol habits, the goals you’re trying to achieve… the list could go on forever.

But I like to regularly share the potential signs that you may not be eating enough, because while there’s people out there that DON’T have an under eating problem – there are also equal parts plenty of people out there scared to eat more food, constantly dieting and chasing fat loss, unaware they’re under-fueling for their activity levels, or just constantly yo-yoing back and forth between eating tons of food or no food.

Unfortunately we don’t get tons of education growing up in regard to how to eat healthy, support our body, how to effectively work towards our goals, nor much education regarding nutrition or exercise in general.

(and my GOSH is there a lot of bs, fear mongering, and awful advice on Instagram and Tik Tok these days).

One of the most common questions I get on social media is how at 5’3 and in my mid thirties, I’m able to eat 2300-2400 calories a day and maintain a muscular and lean physique. 

But it’s not really an unreasonable or unusual calorie intake… diet culture and social media influencers showing their “1200 Calorie Full Day of Eating” videos just make it seem that way.


Common Signs You May Not Be Eating Enough

1. “Forever Hungry” Could Be Your Middle Name.

Are you always  hungry? Do you find yourself constantly battling food cravings or snacking on food? Do you never really feel “full” or satisfied, regardless of how much water you drink, how much fiber, and veggies you eat, etc?


2. Your Sleep Could Give a Trash Can a Run For It’s Money.

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Difficulty staying asleep and it’s normal for you to wake up quite each few times a night? Are you constantly tossing and turning? Regularly wake up hungry in the middle of the night?


3. Constantly Feel Like You’re Running On Empty.

Do you constantly feel tired and exhausted to the bone? Struggle to climb out of bed in the morning? Can’t function without excessive amounts of coffee and caffeine? Are you “bonking” in the middle of workouts? Feel like you hit a wall mid-afternoon between 1-3pm every day? 


4. Your Hormones (or Thyroid) Aren’t Doing So Hot.

Have you lost your period? Or have super irregular and unpredictable periods? Suffering with low thyroid levels? Are your sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone looking pretty wimpy (aka super low) on blood work? Struggling with low milk supply while trying to breastfeed?


5. Hair is Thinning or Falling Out by the Handful.

Are you leaving behind massive hair bunnies every time you shower or brush your hair? Dealing with thin hair or bald patches? Experiencing a lot of split ends and hair breakage for no reason? Are your hair or nails fragile, brittle, and seem to be growing slower than normal?


6. You’re Always Freezing Cold.

Are your fingers and toes constantly ice cold to the touch? Do you constantly have goosebumps, find yourself shivering, or find yourself wearing a lot of layers and clothes to stay warm? 


7. You Only Have Bowel Movements Every Few Days.

Does your digestion seem slow and sluggish? Is it common for you to feel constipated or to have several days between your bowel movements go by?


8. Screw Always Being Hungry – You’re Opposite and NEVER Feel Hungry.

Do you get full easily? Do you find it easy to skip breakfast or meals during the day? Maybe you regularly skip meals during the day but then find yourself dealing with insatiable hunger by evening and nighttime?

(*thyroid levels and hunger cues can down-regulate or disappear if we’re super stressed, working out too much, or if we’re consistently eating less calories than we need. If you never or hardly ever feel hungry, this is a BIG red flag!)


9. You’re Constantly Sick, Injured, or Sore.

Are you the friend that’s always getting sick? Constantly dealing with nagging aches, pains, and injuries? Always excessively sore and feeling beat down from your workouts? Do you regularly struggle with mood swings, depression, and/or anxiety?

Find yourself repeatedly nodding your head? Might be time to get curious about your eating habits (:


How Do I Know How Many Calories My Body Needs In A Day?

One of the easiest ways to start navigating this all would be to download a food tracking app on your smartphone (I love to use Cronometer) and log everything you eat for 5-7 days.

Then you can start collecting hard data about how many protein, carbs, fat, and calories you generally eat in a day.

Next, you could pull up an online calculator like a TDEE Calculator or Precision Nutrition Calculator to estimate your calorie needs and compare the two. While they’re not perfect, online calculators can be a great starting point to then trial and error and see what’s true for YOUR body.

In the Precision Nutrition Calculator, make sure to select “Improve Health” as your goal. Also, make sure not to overestimate your activity levels and try to be real with yourself. TDEE often tends to be more accurate for those with more body fat, whereas Precision Nutrition is often a little more accurate for super active individuals. 


Currently Dieting and Intentionally Eating Lower Calorie?

Might be a good time to pull up anchor, stop dieting, and start eating a little more food.

Since your maintenance calories may have changed as a result of losing weight (or losing body fat), it might be a good idea to slowly increase food over time so you can work to re-find your new maintenance. This is called Reverse Dieting. More on this below!


A Quick Guide On How To Reverse Diet

As a reminder, maintenance calories are the calories required on a daily basis to maintain your body weight, with no gains or losses to muscle or fat tissue.

Reverse dieting is basically the opposite of dieting. When we diet, we decrease calories from maintenance over time in order to elicit fat loss. With reverse dieting, we methodically increase calories over time to get back up to maintenance or to find our maintenance calorie threshold.

A simple way to do this is to increase your total daily calories by about ~100 calories per day every 1-2 weeks. 

While this might seem tedious, one of the advantages to making slower changes over time like this is that we’re less likely to have accidental or unnecessary weight gain. You can certainly make bigger changes – but that’s up to you and your comfort level (:

If you’re coming out a bit calorie deficit and really far below your maintenance needs, consider starting with a big 15-20% calorie jump, then hop to the 100 calorie weekly increases.


Reverse Dieting Example:

  • January 1: 20% increase from 1,000 calories  = 1,200 calories
  • January 15: add 100 calories = 1,300 calories
  • February 1: add 100 calories = 1,400 calories
  • February 15: add 100 calories  = 1,500 calories
  • March 1: add 100 calories = 1,600 calories
    … and so on.


The Takeaway

A body that’s consistently well-fed and adequately fueled is a body that can easily recover, quickly bounce back from workouts, prioritize building muscle, and more easily get stronger and hit new PR’s.

Take the time to learn about how many calories you might need on a daily basis so you can have the energy to do all the things you love doing and get out there and live big (:


Want To Learn More About Dialing In Your Nutrition?

Check out my e-book, The Ultimate Guide To Nutrition, Muscle Gain, & Fat Loss!

Not everyone can afford a one-on-one nutrition coach (or has the desire for coaching), so this e-book is my way of continuing to bridge the gap. This book will support you in your goal to love your body and find freedom through food, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. 

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