Written by: Heather Gerrish, RD
Sometimes the world of nutrition and health can be a little...confusing. Too many calories, too little...not enough of one thing and too much of another. How do you keep things straight? Listening to your body is KEY when making any changes to your lifestyle or health. Your body is providing you with the capacity to do work! You want to ensure that you are taking care if it the way it takes care of you every day.
Let’s talk nutrition.
Daily intake is an important factor when considering what your body needs (at a minimum) to do the work you need to go about your day and do the things you enjoy. When you provide inadequate fuel (undereat) your body is not able to perform at it’s best and physiologically can start to believe that you are starving - something we don’t want! This occurs when the baseline (basal metabolic rate or BMR) is not met. Your body views this as a threat - it doesn’t know when you will eat next, or if you have access to adequate fuel (food!) to keep it going so in response it slows everything down, including how you burn stored fuel. If weight loss is your goal, this is something that would not be ideal. Slowed progress towards your goal AND adaptation of your body to “function” off of this new, very low calorie (fuel) diet will lead you nowhere fast. We want to both fuel your body and allow it to gradually allow weight loss to occur. Not too fast, not too slow - just right for sustained weight loss long-term!
Thinking about this can be tricky. How do you know if you are eating enough? A few signs are from your body trying to communicate it needs more fuel. This could be:
Having low energy
Feeling hungry ALL the time*
Or not being able to perform at your best during your workouts.
Everyone is different and everyone’s requirements for fuel is also different, but an important rule is to always listen to your body - it knows you the best!
Ways to make sure you are getting ENOUGH fuel:
Break down your day *meals and snacks* to mirror your calorie, macro and fueling goals. Then, make it a goal to at a minimum meet this intake. (Preparation is key!)
Keep healthy snacks on hand and during emergency hunger strikes - you never know! It’s much better to deal with your hungry with an apple than later on have more than you bargained for with a less healthy option.
Remember to refuel after workouts - replenish your energy stores and give your body what it need to repair, build and recover.
When you are just starting out, either with tracking your intake or implementing a new routine, it takes time to figure out what works best for you and your body. Give yourself time to determine your best balance in ensuring that you are listening to your body and taking things one day at a time! Practice is essential to finding YOUR routine and making sure you are providing your body with enough fuel!