Undereating can be a big problem for athletes but knowing the signals and signs you’re not eating enough can help you prevent or correct this.
Kristi Eramo O’Connell, a 6-time CrossFit Games athlete with 5 top 10 finishes, goes over 5 signs you’re not eating enough in a recent Vlog.
Could you be undereating? Find out below.
5 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough
1: Brain fog
Memory issues and feeling tired or exhausted are symptoms Kristi Eramo O’Connell experiences with brain fog, together with a lack of mental clarity and feeling dazed.
“When I start to notice this, I start to realise that a good sign of this for me is that I am undereating, because I’m feeling like maybe I don’t have that energy to go through these mental tasks,” she explains.
Hunger might not just be a sign that your body is asking you to eat in the moment but could also be a sign that you’re not eating enough in general.
“Something to consider is actually upping your calories, making sure that you’re not just feeding yourself when you’re hungry in the moment but when your mood is fluctuating, that means something,” explains Kristi’s partner, Patrick O’Connell.
If you find yourself having a harder time keeping a stable mood, try upping your calories and see if it helps balance your mood and avoid those highs and lows.
3: Poor quality of sleep
If you’re constantly awakening through the night, this is a big sign you’re not eating enough. This is because undereating leads to an insufficiency in glucose in our bodies to support our active brain, Kristi explains, which leads to waking up multiple times per night.
Under-fuelling can’t sustain a good quality sleep.
“For me, I know when I’m training it’s very obvious when I start: one, waking up throughout the middle of the night when I was used to sleeping 8+ hours or two, I wake up hungry, so I’d literally wake up at 3 am and be like ‘wow, I think I need a peanut butter sandwich or something,’” she says.
“That is not a good sign. It’s also not going to help us recover and feel really good.”
Sleep is a huge sign for undereating.
4: More injuries or sickness than normal
If you find yourself being more prone to injury or are sick more often than normal, your body might be telling you it does not have the resources to recover.
“Whether that’s your immune system or your body itself, it’s giving you signs and hints that it does not have what it needs to keep up with what you need,” explains Patrick O’Connell.
You might need more food to recover from the amount of activity that you’re doing.
5: Low energy and fatigue
Not everybody realises that low energy and fatigue can be directly correlated with undereating.
When you’re faced with simple tasks that don’t require a lot of effort, but you find yourself completely unmotivated to complete them, this might be a sign that you’re not eating enough and you need a little bit more fuel. This also applies to your sporting performance.
“If you’re crashing in your workouts, and you’re just unable to get through them, and you have nothing to get though them mentally or physically, that could be a good sign that you need some more energy,” says Kristi.
Eating more can help improve your performance and will probably also improve your body composition and help you achieve your goals, she explains.
How to fix undereating
Just eating more is not going to magically solve all these signs and symptoms. What Kristi and Patrick recommend is finding a baseline of calories you need to be eating and tracking macros for a short time to understand what quality and quantity of foods you should be eating.
It’s important to eat good quality foods, but you also want to eat enough of them.