Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging, especially in a modern society where food is constantly available. However, not eating enough calories can also be a concern, whether it’s due to intentional food restriction, decreased appetite or other reasons.
In fact, under-eating on a regular basis can lead to a number of mental, physical and emotional health issues. Here are 9 signs that you’re not eating enough.
1. Low Energy Levels
Calories are units of energy your body uses to function. When you don’t eat enough calories, you’re likely to feel tired most of the time. The number of calories needed for these basic functions within a 24-hour period is referred to as your resting metabolic rate.
Most people have a resting metabolic rate higher than 1,000 calories per day. Adding physical activity can increase your daily needs by another 1,000 calories or more. Although hormones also play a role in energy balance, generally if you take in more calories than needed, you will store most of the excess as fat. If you take in fewer calories than needed, you will lose weight.
Restricting intake to fewer than 1,000 calories daily can slow down your metabolic rate and lead to fatigue since you’re not taking in enough calories to support even the basic functions that keep you alive. Eating too little has particularly been linked to low energy levels in older people, whose food intake may decrease due to reduced appetite.
Other studies in female athletes have found that fatigue may occur when calorie intake is too low to support a high level of physical activity. This seems to be most common in sports that emphasize thinness, like gymnastics and figure skating. Yet even light physical activity like walking or taking the stairs may cause you to tire easily if your calorie intake is well below your needs.
Eating too few calories can lead to fatigue due to insufficient energy to exercise or perform movement beyond basic functions.