We are heading into summer (finally!), so in preparation for that, many of us are in a calorie deficit. Going through seasons of cutting (calorie deficit) and bulking (calorie surplus) can be a great way to reach your fitness goals without exhausting your body, but in those times, you need to really listen to your body. Going too far in either direction can harm your body and hinder your progress. When you are going through a cut, your body will give you signs that you might need to increase your calorie intake. Here are some of the most common signs:
1. You’re tired
Fatigue or feeling inexplicably tired are signs you need more calories. Calories are where your body gets its energy, and if you’re consuming too few for your body to perform basic functions, it can severely impact your energy levels. Keep in mind that breathing, pumping blood, actively thinking, and other functions all require energy calories.
2. You’re getting sick more often than usual
When you’re eating less calories, you’re getting less nutrients. This can cause your immune system to not function as well as it should. If your immune system is weakened, it can increase susceptibility to the common cold and duration of illnesses.
3. You find yourself always thinking about food
Due to the nature of a calorie deficit, you will most likely find yourself hungry. Feeling hungry for a little bit is okay. What’s not okay is when you find yourself thinking about it all day or counting the minutes until your next meal. If food is all you can focus on, try increasing your calories.
4. You begin having skin problems
As we mentioned in point 2, the less calories you eat, the less nutrients you get. Your skin needs a sufficient amount of nutrients, vitamin E being an important one. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage throughout your body. For your skin, it helps create a natural barrier to keep moisture in. You can find vitamin E in sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and fish.
5. You always feel cold
Maintaining your body temperature requires calories. In a 2011 study, researchers found that people who consumed a restricted number of calories had a significantly lower core body temperature than those who consumed more calories. If you find yourself always feeling cold, this could be a sign that you need to increase your calories to maintain a healthy body temperature.
What should I do?
If you are in a calorie deficit and you feel like more than one of these things apply to you, consider raising your calories and see how you feel. Some other things you can try are eating more protein, complex carbs, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, or eating more frequently. Everyone is different, so listen to your body and make sure you’re supporting your fitness journey with proper nutrition and calorie intake!
Cleveland Clinic. (2022, February 24). Vitamin E for Skin: What Does It Do? Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/vitamin-e-for-skin-health/
Kandola, A. (2019, May 29). What are the signs of not eating enough? Medical News Today. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322157#outlook
Woods, B. (2022, April 1). 7 Signs That Could Mean You’re Not Eating Enough. Blogilates. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://www.blogilates.com/blog/signs-youre-not-eating-enough/