What happens if I don’t eat enough?

Dominique Adair
Fitness Specialist

There's a lot of discussion among dieters about why weight loss is so difficult, and one theory I’ve heard is that they are not eating enough. Actually, this is most often not the case. Sometimes it is very hard to tell how much you are eating and drinking, and working with a nutrition coach using tools such as food and drink logs, can help develop a clearer picture of how much you are eating. Most often, if someone is not losing weight, it is because they are not thoroughly aware of how much they are eating or drinking. Of course if you are trying to maintain weight and you’re losing weight, or gain weight and you are not successful, you need to eat larger servings, more frequently, of more energy dense foods like nut butters, whole grains and vegan cheeses.

If you don’t take in enough calories every day, you may not be as fast and as strong as you could be, and may even break down rather than build up your muscles. If you are a healthy weight (in other words you don’t need to gain or lose weight), here are some general guidelines to help you eat enough:

  • Don’t skip meals. It is too hard to make up the lost food later.
  • Add a healthy snack between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and right before bed.
  • Make higher calorie healthy foods part of your daily routine (nuts and nut butters, bananas, granola and other cereals, whole grain breads and muffins, dried fruit, juices and smoothies).
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you don't eat enough food, your body will respond in many ways, some of them potentially harmful. Perceiving that food is scarce, your body will initiate changes that lower your need for calories. Your metabolism may slow down and you may feel tired. You might feel an urge to binge, especially on sugar-laden foods. Chronic dieting, in fact, can lead to an eating disorder. Over time, not eating enough can also deprive your body of essential nutrients you need for health.

Continue Learning about Nutrition

Getting Too Much Fructose?
Getting Too Much Fructose?
Getting fructed? Webster’s says that edgy-sounding word simply means, “bearing fruit.” It could also stand for participating in the Finnish-Russian Un...
Read More
Why do we need to lower our iron level?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Hemochromatosis is a condition that allows too much iron absorption. It is important to lower th...
More Answers
What is the difference between a vegetable and a fruit?
Michael T. Murray, NDMichael T. Murray, ND
The word "vegetable" comes from the Latin vegetare, meaning "to enliven or animate." The name is app...
More Answers
What Changes Should I Make to My Diet to Reduce My Risk of Heart Disease?
What Changes Should I Make to My Diet to Reduce My Risk of Heart Disease?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.