The phrase "running on low fuel" is quite often used in the fitness world. We end up categorizing our common exhaustion to be the new normal in how we go about our day/training. However, this is not normal! Exhaustion might just be your #1 sign to
We create such a strong focus on being in a calorie deficit, we forget how to keep our bodies fueled safely in this case. Many of us may think that we might be consuming TOO much, when it's really NOT enough for our bodies needs & functions.
Keep on reading to gain some knowledge on whether or not you need more fuel (food) for your workouts!
Survival mode... When our bodies are under-fueled, it responds by doing what ever it can do to "survive." By this, it means that without the right amount of nutrients and calories going in, the basic functions of the human body begin to slow down. Being too low on calories then puts you in not only a deficit state, but also a survival state.
If you're not eating enough, it's likely that you will know based on the signs and symptoms your body is telling you. In correlation to training, under-fueling can be dangerous as you will no longer be in a muscle building phase, but rather a survival state; the body will prioritize basic functions (breathing, blood pressure, body temperature) over strength.
Below we have listed some obvious, yet important signs that your body might be telling you it's time to adjust your nutrition based on your training/activity level!
Signs You're Not Eating Enough to Fuel Your Workouts:
1. You're Always Tired
Never not tired actually. Due to the lack of calories, there is a high chance you are deficient in essential micronutrients, which can be slowing you down.
This is because those nutrients are found in FOOD! Food is fuel. Fuel up!
2. You Lost Your Monthly Cycle
Obviously vital to females, losing your monthly cycle is an evident sign your body is telling you to slow down and check your nutrition. Female athletes and those who train at a high-intensity tend to experience amenorrhea (term for loss of period) due to their decreased amount of body fat. Under-fueling and overtraining is one of the main reasons as to why females lose their monthly cycle. It is important to get back to a healthy body fat % and to prioritize post-workout nutrition!
3. You're Not Recovering from Your Workouts or Get Injured Often
Are you often getting injured? Or feeling constant soreness days post-workout? This could be a sign you are under-fueling for your activity level! Although sleep and physical recovery strategies (foam rolling, stretching, ice) are essential to recovering from your workouts, the most important one is re-fueling. Getting in that post-workout meal and proper nutrients meals following is essential to recovery!
4. You're Moody & Easily Triggered
Odds are that if you're in a prolonged calorie deficit, you're most likely on edge and moody quite often. Along with that, you may constantly thinking about food (ie. what you can eat, what you cannot eat, etc). Stress and anxiety may also arise due to the increase of cortisol your body is producing from overtraining and under-eating!
5. You Hit a Training Plateau
Not only are you not recovering well from your workouts, but you are also not seeing any improvement! This could be due to not eating enough to progress your training. Many body builders experience a plateau within their fitness journey because they are unintentionally under-eating. If you want to put on size and train big, you must eat big to grow!
All in all...These are just 5 out of the many signs that indicate that we may be under-fueling for our training. Although we may not be intentionally under-eating and overtraining, it is important to make caution of the consequences and effects that can occur!
There are many tools that can help you establish your calorie needs in order to properly fuel your body. Such as, macro & calorie counters online or contacting a registered Dietitian. Once you have your method of post-workout nutrition all align, you are sure to start feeling energized and stronger!
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