Depending on your goals, this could be a huge mistake.
If you’re trying to lose weight or bulk up or put a little muscle on, then the amount of calories you take in plays a huge role in achieving the outcome you desire.
Not Eating Enough Calories – Your Goals
Let’s first look at the different goals most people have:
1) Lose Weight
2) Bulk Up (put on lots of muscle)
3) Put On A Little Muscle
4) Body Re-composition (Lose a bit of fat and gain a little muscle)
If I went over each of these in great detail, we’d be here all day, so we’ll only go over the basics.
Obviously, the goal here is to lose weight.
In order to do this, you must be in a caloric deficit. How you get there depends on what you prefer – exercise, dieting, or a combination thereof (recommended).
If you’re not eating enough calories, then you’re probably losing too much weight too fast, and you’re a bit concerned.
Some people get so motivated, so pumped up about losing weight that they can shift from eating a lot to now just barely eating. Some people might be thinking, “what a great problem to have!”. But the reality is, if you’re not eating enough calories for an extended period of time, it could detrimental to your health.
That’s not to say I’m against a very low calorie diet, because I do believe that a very low calorie diet is a great way to jump start your weight loss, but any more than a few weeks can really have it’s effects on the body.
I’d say that anything under 500 calories for any longer than a few weeks is not going to be the healthiest. You’re just not going to get the nutrients; proteins, fats carbohydrates, vitamins, etc., that your body needs with such low calories everyday.
With that said, increase your calories.
I’d recommend you do it slowly. Start by adding in some oatmeal, or a couple of eggs, or more fruits.
Increase the calories until the amount of weight you’re losing is comfortable for you.
Bulk Up (put on lots of muscle)
If you’re looking to add as much muscle as possible and you’re not eating enough calories, then you know the reason why you’re not achieving your goals.
That’s a good thing that you’ve pinpointed exactly where the problem might be.
The only option here is to slowly add more calories to your day, or at least on your workout days.
I’d start slowly adding maybe an extra 100 or 200 calories per day to see what kind of results you get.
If you’re still not gaining weight, then try adding another 100-200 calories per day to your daily intake and then see what happens.
Keep adjusting until you’re gaining about 1 pound per week. Anymore than that, and you’ll be adding more fat than muscle. If you want the bare minimum amount of weight you should look to gain, then shoot for about 2 pounds a month.
Put On A Little Muscle
If you’re looking to put on a little muscle, then you’re probably not looking to bulk up like the guy/gal above. You just want a bit of muscle gain on your body, with not much fat.
In order to do this, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating enough calories in order for your muscles to grow. (of course it’s a given that you must workout/lift weights in order to build muscle)
If that’s not happening, follow the advice above and slowly increase your calories by 100-200 per day. Adjust from there if you’re still not seeing results.
A good goal is to shoot for a 1-2 pound weight gain per month if you’re just looking to put on a little muscle. Keep in mind, you’ll still add a little bit of fat unless you’re doing some form of cardio.
Body Re-composition (Lose a bit of fat and gain a little muscle)
With body re-composition, you’re looking to lose a bit of fat and gain a little muscle. Now, most people won’t be able to do this because generally, in order to put on muscle we’ll need to be in a caloric surplus and in order to lose fat we’ll need to be in a caloric deficit.
The majority of the people who can pull this off will be people new to training/working out/lifting weights.
Also, if you’re very precise in your training/working out, you’re counting every single calorie, you’re measuring the calories burned, etc., body re-composition can be possible. You just kinda have to be precise with everything.
For most people, the best thing to do is to lose fat and maintain muscle and just focus on either losing fat, or just gaining muscle. One goal at a time is probably the best route to take.
Not Eating Enough Calories – Health Wise
There’s many side effects to not eating enough calories.
Your goals is largely dependent on how much calories you’re taking in.
Taking in too many calories can result in fat gain (and muscle if you’re doing resistance training) and not taking in enough calories can result in too much weight loss, even anorexia, which is a bit outside the scope of this article.
If you’re suffering from not eating enough calories…
Make sure you follow the steps above, depending on your goals.
If it’s a more serious issue, be sure to visit a physician.