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8 Signs and Symptoms That You’re Not Eating Enough and How to Come up with a Good Calorie Intake Plan

by Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

Last updated on

Reviewed by Tracey Long, MPH, RDN

If you’re not eating enough, an inadequate calorie intake could be the root cause of your health problems. Find out how to recognize the signs of under-eating.

not eating enough
Not eating enough has its own set of consequences, including trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. iStock.com/Tero Vesalainen

In our modern society with its seemingly endless supply of fast food and junk food, it seems obvious to most why we’re dealing with an obesity epidemic. Cheap, low-quality food surrounds us, and there’s not enough time in the world to exercise away all the excess calories that exist in our food supply.

However, those of us in the Paleo and ancestral health community seem to have a different problem altogether. It’s one that I’ve seen in dozens of clients.

This problem is chronic under-eating.

Are you an under-eater? Learn the most common signs and symptoms of a too-low calorie intake. #calorieintake #undereating #optimalonutrition

Why Under-Eating Is so Common

Yes, I said under-eating, not overeating. While most people would find it hard to believe that many of the health problems people experience when going Paleo are from a lack of calories and appropriate macronutrients, I’ve seen it in my private practice countless times; clients who were experiencing mysterious, nagging symptoms that suddenly disappeared when we evaluated and corrected their daily food intake.

I’ve even seen clients who couldn’t lose weight that were suddenly able to do so after realizing they weren’t eating enough and increasing their food intake. Quite the opposite of the “calories-in-calories-out” mentality!

Why is under-eating so common? It can happen for a number of reasons:

  • A restricted diet
  • Above average activity levels
  • Stress
  • Fear of certain foods and food groups
  • Busyness
  • Chronic dieting
  • Pregnancy/breastfeeding

Could something as simple as under-eating be causing your health problems? Could inadequate food intake be the reason why your Paleo diet suddenly isn’t working for you anymore? Is your “rapid weight loss” diet plan the reason your jeans are getting tighter instead of looser?

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Signs and Symptoms of Under-eating

Below are the top eight signs and symptoms I see in my clients who are chronically under-eating. Read on to discover if you might simply need some more food to start feeling better today.

1. Your Weight Isn’t Budging

This is one of the most paradoxical symptoms of someone who is under-eating, and it often goes hand in hand with overtraining. You might be surprised to hear that I’ve rarely worked with a weight loss client who was blatantly overeating. In fact, many of my clients come to me on extremely low-calorie diets (around 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day) combined with six to seven days per week of intense exercise like CrossFit or long-distance running.

For good reason, they are extremely frustrated that their weight isn’t changing; for some of these clients, their weight has actually been increasing since they dropped their food intake and started working out more. Many of these clients are also eating a very low-carbohydrate diet with the goal of losing weight quickly.

We’ve been trained to believe that the body is a machine, and we can input and output our calories in a way that will cause weight loss. So it’s understandable why these clients would expect to see weight loss from a significant caloric deficit like that. But the fact is, they simply can’t lose the last 15 to 30 pounds no matter how little they eat. Why is this?

While a short-term, moderate caloric deficit can lead to sustainable weight loss (think 300 to 500 calories per day), much larger deficits induce changes in your body’s metabolism in order to keep your body in a homeostatic balance. Your body does not like major, drastic changes, and it will make modifications to your thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones in order to reduce your overall caloric output.

These changes include reducing active thyroid hormone, shutting down sex hormone production, and raising stress hormones like cortisol. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Chronically elevated cortisol leads to both leptin and insulin resistance, a disastrous hormonal state that can keep body weight high. (6, 7)

These hormonal changes can lead to stalled weight loss and body fat retention, along with many other negative health effects that go beyond weight loss resistance. So, if you’ve been eating much less and exercising much more in a futile attempt to lose weight, consider whether this strategy has been working for you.

2. You Can’t Get Pregnant

Scientists have known for a long time that low-calorie dieting and inadequate body fat can lead to infertility and amenorrhea in women. (8) One of the most commonly seen manifestations of this problem is known as hypothalamic amenorrhea, which is hallmarked by menstrual irregularity or amenorrhea and low energy availability, with or without an eating disorder. (9)

Menstrual irregularity doesn’t necessarily mean a missed period; it can simply mean a woman is having an anovulatory cycle, meaning there is no egg released during the ovulatory period.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea caused by chronic caloric deprivation is also associated with physiological changes like hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis overactivity (also known as adrenal fatigue) and disturbances in the hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis (also known as euthyroid sick syndrome).

I’ve worked with many clients who recovered their period after returning to a normal caloric intake. I’ve even had one client who was finally able to get pregnant when she switched to a higher-calorie ancestral diet, after her doctors told her she’d always be infertile.

So, if you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, and you have a history of dieting and exercising for weight loss, it’s possible that your low-calorie diet is preventing you from getting pregnant.

3. Your Blood Sugar Is on a Roller Coaster

While many people blame excessive carbohydrate consumption for wild blood sugar swings, you might be surprised to learn that inadequate calorie consumption can cause just as many issues with blood sugar control. The most common issue that comes from chronic under-eating is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar below 70 mg/dL, though some people experience symptoms at higher blood sugar levels. Common symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Hunger
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mood

Severe under-eating can easily cause hypoglycemia, especially when combined with exercise. (10) And because many people feel better eating sugary foods when they’re hypoglycemic, this can lead to the common cycle of high and low blood sugar swings that cause chronic dieters to overeat or binge on junk foods.

This is yet another reason that the most sustainable diet for weight loss provides adequate calories to keep your hormones and blood sugar even-keeled.

4. Your Mood Is Totally Unpredictable

Have you ever heard the term “hangry” before?

It refers to the state of anger and irritability resulting from being hungry. And even though it’s a made-up term, there’s actually scientific evidence for the existence of this volatile emotional state caused by inadequate food intake. (11)

As I mentioned earlier, lack of eating enough food can lead to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Since the brain requires blood sugar to function optimally, when it starts to drop, one of the first cognitive processes that suffers is self-control. (12) Your ability to exert self-control allows you to:

  • Focus your attention
  • Regulate your emotions
  • Cope with stress
  • Resist impulsivity
  • Refrain from aggressive behavior

So, if you’re always on a short fuse, or your mood is constantly swinging between cheerful and irritable or anxious, make sure that you’re not severely under-eating before making any other significant changes to your diet and supplement or medication routine.

5. You Can’t Fall Asleep (Or Stay Asleep)

Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are one of the top health complaints my clients come to me for help fixing. This is especially common in peri-menopausal women who seem to be especially prone to poor sleep despite generally good sleep hygiene and a health-conscious lifestyle.

Oddly enough, one of the first symptoms that changes when I get my clients eating a more calorically appropriate diet is a significant improvement in sleep duration and quality. Even if they weren’t necessarily waking up hungry, many of my clients find that an increased calorie intake (especially from carbohydrates) can lead them to fall asleep faster and stop waking up at night.

One reason for this likely comes from the improved blood sugar control that arises from an appropriate calorie and carbohydrate intake. As your blood sugar drops overnight, your liver must release its stored glucose (in the form of glycogen) to keep your blood sugar steady.

If you’re constantly under-eating, especially if you’re overexercising on top of that, your liver won’t have the glycogen stores it needs to keep your blood sugar stable. In this case, your body must release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to promote gluconeogenesis, the process of creating new glucose. If these stress hormones elevate high enough, they can actually wake you up in the middle of the night.

Making sure you’re eating enough overall and potentially including a carb- and fat-dense bedtime snack one to two hours before going to sleep can help keep your blood sugar stable overnight, leading to more restful, uninterrupted sleep.

Some of my favorite examples of balanced snacks are:

  • An apple and 1 to 2 TB of nut butter
  • Half a sweet potato and 1 TB of butter or ghee
  • Berries and coconut milk
  • A banana and 1 ounce of macadamia nuts
  • Full-fat yogurt with a drizzle of honey

6. You’re Chronically Constipated

There are a few reasons why chronic under-eating can cause constipation. The most obvious is that feces is made up of waste matter from the digestion of food, so if you’re not getting enough food, your stool won’t have much bulk to it.

The less obvious but more likely reason that under-eating can lead to constipation is due to the effects of undernutrition on thyroid hormone. As I discussed previously, under-eating causes a downregulation of T3, the active thyroid hormone. This can lead to a condition called euthyroid sick syndrome, where T3 is low, reverse T3 is high, and thyroid-stimulating hormone and T4 are often normal. In this condition, your body develops hypothyroidism symptoms without necessarily showing any change in the typical thyroid function markers that most doctors check.

Constipation is a very common symptom of hypothyroidism. Active thyroid hormone helps stimulate peristalsis in the gut, keeping digestion humming along smoothly. When T3 drops, gut motility slows, and this can lead to chronic constipation. So, if you’re having a bowel movement only every couple of days, check your caloric intake and make sure you’re not under-eating.

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7. You’re Always Cold

Caloric restriction is known to cause a drop in body temperature. (13) While some calorie-restriction proponents suggest that this is a sign of expected longevity, my clients’ (and my own) experience dictates that this is not a comfortable way to live on a daily basis. Whether or not this extends our life span, who wants to constantly feel frigid on a daily basis? Not me, and I’d bet not you either.

A lowered body temperature can be due to a decrease in thermogenesis, since your body needs a certain amount of ingested calories to create heat, as well as due to the hormonal changes that come from caloric restriction, such as thyroid hormone reduction and HPA axis disruption. Low insulin can also lead to low body temperature, so some people on a very-low-carbohydrate diet will experience this symptom, as well. (14)

I may sound like a broken record at this point, but if you’re always cold, even in the summertime, it’s highly likely that you’re not getting enough to eat.

Not Eating Enough
Not eating enough can sometimes lead to hair loss. iStock/Doucefleur

8. You’re Losing Hair by the Handful

Hair loss is one of the first signs of nutritional deficiency, whether that be calories, protein, or both. It is exacerbated by the hormonal changes that develop from chronic under-eating, including a drop in sex hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. (15, 16) Hair loss is another common symptom of hypothyroidism, which, as you’ve learned, can develop from long-term calorie restriction.

If your hair is falling out at a scarily fast rate, you need to take a hard look at your diet. Consuming a calorically appropriate, protein-rich, nutrient-dense whole foods diet should be the first step for anyone who wants to stop hair loss in its tracks.

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How Do You Stop Under-Eating and Improve Calorie Intake?

Determining exactly how many calories you need to eat on a daily basis for optimal health and weight control is tricky. Many factors come into play, including your physical activity, stress levels, sleep adequacy, history of chronic disease, and more. It’s impossible to know exactly how many calories your body needs on a daily basis, but there are some ways to estimate what you should be eating.

A quick and easy way to roughly estimate your “basement” calorie target—the lowest amount of calories you should ever eat—is to multiply your ideal body weight by 10. A woman who is 5’5” has an “ideal” body weight of around 125 pounds, so she should not eat less than 1,250 calories per day. Use this calculator to determine your “ideal” body weight. (Note: this calculator does not take into account frame size or muscle mass—that’s why I put “ideal” in quotes.)

It’s important to note that this quick estimate is a “sedentary” formula, meaning it does not take into account any physical activity beyond sitting and standing. If you’re exercising regularly, you’ll need to add at least 200 to 400 calories on top of that number. That same 5’5” woman might burn around 300 calories or more from a 30-minute run, taking her minimum calorie needs up to 1,550 calories per day, assuming she doesn’t do any other exercise that day.

Different workouts burn different amounts of calories. A CrossFit WOD can burn 12 to 20 calories per minute on average, so a WOD that takes 20 minutes could burn 240 to 400 calories. (17) If you’re aiming for a high step count, 10,000 steps burns around 300 to 500 calories, give or take, depending on body size and gender.

These are just examples of common exercise types in the Paleo community, and the point is to be aware that if you’re a highly active individual, your calorie needs will go up by several hundred calories per day above the “10 x ideal weight” formula.

Another common factor that will raise your caloric needs is if you are a breastfeeding woman. Many of my female clients are shocked to hear that breastfeeding can raise your caloric expenditure by 500 calories per day or more. (18) So breastfeeding women need at least 300 calories per day above and beyond other women who are not breastfeeding, and that’s only if they have extra weight to lose postpartum.

So what does this calorie target exercise look like in practice? Using myself as an example, my “ideal” body weight is about 140 pounds, and I usually burn around 400 to 500 calories via exercise per day, so I try not to eat below 1,800 calories, especially on heavier training days, where I may eat more like 2,000 to 2,200 total. Your mileage may vary, but it’s a pretty easy place to start from, and you can tweak up and down as necessary as your health and weight fluctuates.

Alternatively, you can use this calculator to estimate your daily calorie needs based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level.

As you can see, determining caloric needs can get somewhat complicated, especially with the goal of weight loss thrown into the mix. When I work with clients, my goal is to get them on the least restrictive, most calorically appropriate diet possible. It’s amazing to see the health improvements that come from a simple increase in caloric intake when someone has been chronically under-eating.

If you need help figuring out the right calorie intake for you, let me help you to determine the best diet to keep you feeling and looking your best, without unnecessary restriction or starvation dieting.

Remember, eating too little is just as unhealthy as eating too much. Find the right amount of food intake that works best for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment with eating more if your health isn’t where you want it to be!

Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD
Laura Beth Schoenfeld, RD

Laura Schoenfeld, MPH, RD, is a licensed registered dietitian and women’s health expert trained in Functional Medical nutrition therapy. She assisted in the creation of educational materials for both the ADAPT practitioner and health coach training programs.

Her passion is empowering women to nourish their bodies, develop true strength, and ultimately use their improved health to pursue their purpose. Laura guides her clients in identifying and implementing diet and lifestyle changes that allow them to live a healthy, fit, symptom-free life without being consumed by thoughts of food and exercise. She draws from a variety of sources to form her philosophy on nutrition, including ancestral diets, principles of biochemistry, current research, and clinical experience. Her areas of expertise include women’s hormones and fertility, gut health, autoimmune disease, athletic performance, stress management, skin health, and weight loss. Recognizing that health goes far beyond just diet and exercise, Laura teaches her clients how to focus on and implement life-changing mental and spiritual health habits as well, including changing their thoughts and beliefs to ones that drive health-supporting decision-making around food, fitness, and life in general.

Her greatest mission is to help health-conscious women realize that, while their health is priceless, they are so much more than a body. When she’s not educating and serving her coaching clients and community, Laura loves traveling with her husband, Sundays with her church family, hikes with her dog, beach trips, live music, and strength training.

Professional website: lauraschoenfeldrd.com

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Join the conversation

  1. I have been doing the same “diet” for about 4 years now and was losing weight in the beginning then maintaining by eating “cheat foods” only on weekends. My current diet is that I eat 10-12 oz of lean protein split up throughout 5 times a day and some lowfat cheese and vegetables. I work out moderately. I feel that in the past few weeks I have been very very bloated in the thighs and stomach area and feel/look like I am gaining weight. I feel that the problem may be that I am not eating enough but don’t know how or what to add into my diet at this point. Please help!

  2. Umm 300 bucks to tell me what I should eat and how much I should eat??? Are you insane? I can go to a nutritionist locally and get the info there for 1/4 the price

  3. What a complete load of BULLSHIT. have you seen pictures of people in concentration camps? Those people were not eating enough. Shame on you for writing this crap.

    The reason your client were not loose weight is because they underestimated how many calories they ate. They all thought they ate 1200 to 1400 calories but in reality they were gorging on 2500. Read up on all the studies.

    • this is funny. you are very wrong. starving people can be scary thin, or overweight. there are many factors in play that will determine how it shakes out, but i am living proof that what he says in the article is true. verified, proven by doctors, shamed that their bias towards fat people didn’t let them see it, but now on the road to recovery. being poor and not enough food can do this to people. the body is an incredible machine. it’s whole purpose it to keep you alive, and it will do whatever it has to do to make sure it happens. it will eat your muscle to sustain you, and convert everything into fat that you intake, no matter how little, because it is in starvation mode and it thinks you are going to die. all body processes start to shut down. first, the non essential functions shut down in levels. then, the essential functions are modified and then start to shut down as well. if you do it long enough, your body adjusts to the new normal and your stomach shrinks, and your metabolism slows way down. your body gets injured more often and easier, and recovery time gets longer and longer. the hair and eyelashes falls out. the body starts to get a peach fuzz to it. digestion slows to a crawl to try and wring out every last drop of nutrient it can. the skin changes. the brain gets foggy. the endocrine system gets wonky. the heart starts to act badly. cold all the time. so. tired. all. the. time. these are just some of the things that happen. the list is long.

      the process of fixing undereating is not cool either. not cool is an understatement. its craptaculous. its as bad as the end stages of starvation and it can kill you. fat or thin. i never want to have to do that again.

      i know that it seems to be counter intuitive to everything that many in the medical field have told us for so many years, but this is much more common than one thinks. if you are blessed with everything working well and good health, be happy. i am happy for you, and i hope it continues. 🙂

      • please elaborate on this: ”the process of fixing undereating is not cool either. not cool is an understatement. its craptaculous. its as bad as the end stages of starvation and it can kill you. fat or thin. i never want to have to do that again.”

        • there is something called refeeding syndrome. most people know it from weight lifters, but for a starving person, it can be a very bad thing. if a person has been starving for long enough, there body starts to shut down processes do help the person to survive. if you give a starving person a lot of food as soon as you find them, you would think you are doing a good thing to help them. unfortunately, because the body has shut down so many things, it doesn’t know what to do with the type of food and the volume of food that you have given it, and it can throw the body into chaos. it can actually kill the person. that is the immediate threat. it happens because the body needs to pull the electrolytes from the body to help process the food. the heart needs these to keep working properly. if they are taken to process the food, the heart can stop. this happens when food is increased too quickly. the best way to combat it is to slowly increase the daily calorie load and have about a week or two in between increases for the body to adapt and get use to the new level. also to have active monitoring of electrolytes so they can be adjusted so this doesn’t happen. again, this is the immediate concern. the actual process of increasing the amount of food and the time it takes for your body to recover enough to start to heal and regenerate and know what to do with that food can take months and it is highly unpleasant.

          as i had stated before, the body has shut down and slowed body processes so as to be able to keep you alive. the digestive system slows WAY down to try and get every last bit it can out of the very little you are eating. the stomach shrinks alot since there is not a lot of food that goes has gone into it. so now the stomach cannot hold a lot of food in one sitting. it also does not empty very quickly. so if you increase the amount of food, the stomach feels so full on a very little bit and you feel like you are going to throw up because you are trying to stretch the stomach. the way to do that is to eat more in one sitting. this takes time to stretch the stomach. the other part is that since the stomach does not empty very quickly, it stays in there like a rock for a long time. you do not have the enzymes needed to digest that. you do not have the probiotics in the level needed to digest that. you do not have the amount of bile and stomach acid needed to digest that. all of those factors leads to feeling sick all the time. i felt sick 24 hours a day. i felt like i was going to throw up from being so full, and then felt like i was going to throw up because my body didn’t know what to do with the food i was eating. it took so long for my stomach to empty, and it never fully emptied before i had to eat again. i was on a schedule of about 2-3 hours and then i had to eat again. i was still full from the previous meal. many times, i might have just finished eating the previous meal, and then i had to make another meal and eat that. because the stomach has shrunk so much in size, it take a long time to finish a meal.

          the body can vacillate between constipation and diarrhea because it doesn’t know what to do with it. because it had gone on for so long with me, my body was basically like a baby digestive system. i had to reintroduce foods to it. we were throwing so many things at it so quickly that it just didn’t have time to adjust. i had to start with mashed up green beans. i ate those for a few days and let my body figure out what to do with that, and then i ate mashed up sweet potatoes for a few days and let my body figure that out, and so on and so on. that all takes time to build up.

          so, once the stomach has a go at the food, it eventually starts to empty into the small intestines and then the large intestines. the intestines are not just trucking along happily. they have also slowed way down, and food does not move at the rate it is supposed to. this leads to extreme bloating and painful gas. i looked like i was 6 months pregnant for about 4 months.

          all the while that this, and so many other things are going on, the body slowly starts pulling body processes back online. once the body trusts that the level of food you are giving it is not just a one time thing, and that this is the new normal, it begins to start up a new body function it had previously shut down. while this is a very good thing, and it is what is supposed to happen, it creates a huge power draw on the body. the bone crushing tiredness that starts almost immediately once the food increases is so strong. the body does need the sleep though, so that it can regenerate the bone and muscle and hormone systems and everything else.

          another thing that isn’t terrible, but it does make things a little unpleasant, is the weight gain. its almost like poking with a stick an animal that has been hit on the side of the road. it really isn’t that big of a deal in the big pictures, but after everything else, it is just unpleasant. yes, the idea of gaining weight when a person is already overweight it a tough thought to handle, but it DOES need to happen. it is just how the whole process works, and it does even out eventually. it is the placement of the weight gain at first that is hard as well. it all goes right to the truck. it makes your clothes not fit well, your body feels weird, and its just a bummer at first. it takes a few months for that to even out. the reason this happens is that the body is still in survival mode. its first priority is to protect the vital organs. those are all in the trunk, so it starts laying down fat around those vital organs to insulate and protect. it does eventually redistribute though.

          there are so many other things that happen during that time, both bigger and small, that if they were to happen just the one thing by itself, it would be one thing to deal with. they are all happening at the same time though and it all comes together for the craptaculous experience that it is.

          i hope this helps someone that may be going through this. i can say that if you stick with it, it DOES get better. it does not happen right away though. you have to keep going and look at the big picture. i knew what was going to happen going in, and it was still awful. but….the alternative was worse. i would be dead had we not figured out the problem and started fixing it. i am 1 year into a minimum 2 year process, with it very well being a 3 year process. it is worth it though. i have gained 20 lbs. again i knew it was going to happen, but it isn’t nice to see that scale going up when you are already overweight. just suck it up, take a deep breath and know that it has to be for a time, and that it will bet better. that 20 lbs? it is bone and muscle. i look better now than i did 4 years ago, and 4 years ago, i weighed almost 35 lbs less than i do right now. i went to the dentist recently. for years, no one could figure out why my teeth kept getting cavities. they said, “we can tell you take good care of your teeth”. yet, nobody could say why i had cavities. once we figured out i was starving, and severely under nourished, it all made sense. at the dentist, he said he could see where there were some cavities that had started, but they stopped and were repairing. he said that can happen from poor diet that is resolved. i told him what had been going on, and he said that was what had happened. another plus! my teeth are getting better! my hair is growing again! these are all great things, but the time and process it took to get here has been long and hard. it IS worth it though, so keep on going! shut out what others say. just keep going

          • thank you very much for ur response,

            I am a 29 year old professional-track and field athlete and I under ate for the last 12 months for sure(probably I under ate all my life unintentionally, probably vaccines/antibiotics in early childhood destroyed my GI tract and the body did not crave calories/food as a consequence),

            I would workout 3- 5 hours per day, 6days/week, with extreme intensity… I am now almost on my death bed. My heart beats so WEAKLY, i cant lift a cup of water without giving out my breath or having stabbing pain in my heart… I am wasting away(losing muscles mass, bone mass), my vision gets blurred… all of this started 4 months ago after my grandma passed away.. I was in incredible shape, strong, fast, explosive, very muscular and lean… now i am a semi vegetable…

            I also experimented for two months with zero salt in my diet… that too was a huge mistake as well!!!..

            what foods you ate/eat through this year?

            did you take any special steps to heal your GI tract FIRST?

            did you take HCL capsules to help the stomach brake down food and thus heal quicker/faster? did u eat beef liver for its nutrients?

            do u have a facebook page or email where we could chat about this … or is there a facebook support group?

            • oh, honey….that sounds very familiar. i BEG YOU, please get a dr’s help! you cannot do this alone. i should have been in the hospital. your heart acting that way is very alarming. the things where the electrolytes get out of whack and your heart goes nuts? that happened three times to me. please do not try this by yourself. please go to the doctor and explain to them what is going on and tell them you need help right now. please don’t ever do the zero salt diet ever again. anyone! the body needs salt. it needs more than you think. zero salt will make your heart go crazy too.

              to answer at least the supplements questions: yes, i had to take so many supplements and digestive aids and probiotics. i still do. i don’t take quite as many as i did when i started, but i do still take a good amount. the body just ……..needs. it needs so much at first. the body will heal itself, but it will take time.

              joel, i have been where you are. i used to be very muscular, very active, go go go and never stop. i lost so much muscle it was scary. when i started fixing this, i could barely lift 8 lbs. i cried. i am not a person that cries easily, especially around other people. but i cried right there in the gym because i had lost so much muscle. i was going down the tubes, and going fast. just getting up from a chair to go walk to the bathroom would make me winded. i really do know what you are going through. i will make the plea once again: please call a doctor or even an eating disorder clinic. you may not have an eating disorder, but they can direct you to someone that can help you right now that can help you fix this. you are too far into this for you to do this by yourself, and i fear that to try by yourself may kill you. i wish i could pick you up and drive you to someplace and stay with you until we got you good help.

              i am so sorry, but i don’t do social media. i don’t have facebook or anything. i’m not even sure what the rules are here about giving an email, so i won’t do that. i will answer any questions i can here though, but i will keep bugging you to get medical help though LOL. it is done out of love and concern and because i know what this is and that you need it.

              • as a follow up, i wanted to say one thing. please do not restrict anything in the diet when you begin the healing process, joel. don’t follow a trendy diet. don’t do any diet really. just eat. your body will need everything. micronutrients, macronrients, water, everything. i am not saying that certain diets are not good. how i think a person should eat is that they should eat real food, and beyond that, it depends much on their body type. some people can eat lots of carbs and they need that others cannot and they need more of something else. you figure that all out once you are recovered. but right now and while you are recovering, don’t follow a weight lifters diet or any other diet. your body’s requirements RIGHT NOW are very different than someone else because you are going to be healing and regenerating. don’t eat crap. that is my only thing i will say hahaha. eat real food. make sure there is food in your food. i have no idea what your eating habits are normally. i always ate very healthy, just no where near enough. i didn’t have to break any sugar habits or junk food habits, so in that regard, a big part of my battle was already won. i didn’t have to retrain my brain to not want junk. if that is an issue for you, then you will have to address that. but don’t do anything that is restricting real food because at this point, your body needs everything and a lot of it.

                a good place to find help may be the Weston A. Price foundation. they have so much info on so many things, and they have doctors as well. if you look for a chapter in your state, they can help at least direct you to someone that can help. in my state, they have been nothing but fantastic. i have even called other states with questions many times and everyone is just ready to help in any way they can.

                NEDA (national eating disorder association) can direct you to in patient and outpatient services in your state too.


                you said you are a professional athlete, and your training is intense as i can see. that means you know how to keep going even when you think you can’t any more. that is good. there were a few times i wanted to give up it was so bad, but i knew what the alternative was, and that was unacceptable. i had one person tell me that they knew i wanted to quit, but they said, “i know you, and you will never give up. ever. you might want to right now, and i understand that. this is so hard, but i know you will never give up.”

                it sounds like you have that same drive. hold on to that and just keep going. you CAN do this. find something that keeps you going and hold onto that.

                • Hi, I went to the GP(family doctor) 2 months ago and said its all in my head, im perfectly healthy, LMFAO, and sent me to anxiety/depression counseling.

                  My diet was: meat, raw dairy, raw milk, whole grain pasta, sweet potato, eggs, oats, cream, honey, bee pollen, butter, coconuts, water, legumes, beans, veggies, fruits… pretty simple and whole foods ONLY(plus some aminoacid supplements for recovery)…

                  yes I was 4th best athlete in the decathlon in my country at the national finals… i was only 8th place this summer at the finals, my health already began braking down I just did not realized it back then…

            • Joel,

              I’m sorry to hear of your health woes – my heart goes out to you, as well as prayers, blessings and healing energy. One of the mantras that has helped immensely in my life with the challenges I have gone through is not to see things as good or bad, but simply to keep asking over and over: “What is this teaching me?” and/or “What do I have to learn from this?” Sometimes, it’s even someone else’s lesson as well. All Life is learning – neither good nor bad. We are the ones who define meaning and reason.

              With that said, if you can, seek out a Functional Medicine Specialist – preferably one who has also been trained/has background in Western/conventional medicine/MD, which is a bonus and the best of both worlds.



              Or at least looking into some of these top experts/resources:


              I hope things turn around for you – I’ve been to hell and back a few times in Life with my health…

              Many Blessings,
              Much Gratitude,
              Abundant Love…

      • I was on an anti-psychotic medication for 5 years and gained 70 pound and was back to the normal weight in approximately 9 months and got worried about gaining it back, long story short I was not eating enough and began eating a lot more food and didn’t gain weight and felt much better. It was a few years ago and I started doing it again. I am always hungry way before dinner so I’m going to try and fix my problem again tomorrow. Anyone else out there with the same problem. It is worth it even if you do gain some wait. Peace.

  4. Hi, I need some advice. I recently moved to a 3rd world country. Prior to moving, everyone was worried I was going to lose too much weight from not having enough to eat. Yes, food is hard to find, but I am putting weight on, not losing it.
    I am 5′ 8 and currently 180. When I moved here 7 months ago I weighed 170.
    I am thinking of adding a running plan into my daily routine, as I am a former marathon runner and I miss running terribly, however I am afraid I will gain more weight and not lose it.
    I am not sure of my daily calorie intake, but it is not nearly what it should be. I eat a lot of fresh fruit, some chicken and oatmeal. Milk and yogurt are maybe once a week.
    Can you help me with food suggestions and with daily calorie intake advice?

    • It sounds like you are suffering from malnutrition, due to a lack of caloric intake. Rest is key… I would avoid adding unecessry excercize in as it sounds like your body is burning more than you are taking in already. Still knowing calorie intake would be helpful… it’s not hard to get on a basic calorie counter if you have Internet and find out how much you are eating… good luck and God bless

  5. reading about how hormone ghrelin makes you want to eat more and less sleep makes you ravenous. well I’m debunking that theory. since i cut sugar and eating less i am sleeping less, averaging 41/2 to 6 hrs. nightly, i could care less about food and this is week 3. so all the studies i just read about, went right out the window. i must be the exception. oh, i lost weight.

  6. I’m 5’6″ and I’ve been on a very restrictive diet where my eating fluctuates. The last week’s calories have been 0, 803, 421, 139, 69, 5. It’s not the healthiest but I’ve been doing it for a couple months and losing weight for sure. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds. But I do go through dizzy spells and nausea some days and I know it’s weakening my heart so wouldn’t recommend it to anybody else.

  7. I’m 5’1 I want to say right now I am maybe 98 -100 pounds. my whole life I been underweight no matter how much I eat. I had a baby two years ago and gained 60 pounds. that was the only time I ever gained weight. 2 weeks after haging my baby I went right back to my underweight self. I hate my body everyone always Tells me to eat and I do. but recently haven’t had an appetite because I feel like no matter if I eat or not I never gain weight. i dont k ow what to do to help me gain weight. I’m depressed from everyone telling me to eat more eat more my whole life. help.

    • If you are willing to do what it takes to put on weight then you need to eat higher protein example if you weigh 100 pounds then eat 100grams of protein this will help u gain an easily put on more weight next you need to start implementing weight lifting into your weekly routine as a women you don’t want to be super muscular I totally understand that so I would recommend lifting weights 2-3 times a week such as squats an a little of upper body workouts don’t worry lifting wieght doesn’t mean you are going to look like a gross bodybuilder start researching workouts to build muscle as a woman an learn how to approach it an through healther eating and higher calorie meals an muscle building exercises you will start to gain wieght in a matter of weeks. Forgot to add eat at least 13-14 calories per pound of wieght example if you wieght 100 pounds your daily calorie intake will add up to be 1300-1400 calories a day I know this might be a stretch for you but keep it up an you will gind great improvement in just a few weeks p.s don’t be afraid to eat high carbs they will help build an maintained muscle an energy. Hope that helps hope you begin to feeel better about your self.

  8. Hey,
    So I’m 5’1 and weigh 176lbs. I’ve been eating 1,300 cals a day for 9 weeks now and doing crossfit 4x a week, and some extra cardio like running and yoga 3x a week. My weight has been fluctuating between 5lbs, but I haven’t been able to lose anything and I feel as though I should have. Could this be from not eating enough? I usually only eat 50 g’s of carbs, 130 g’s of protein and 50 g’s of fat, and I’m still not seeing results. I feel like the calculations for what I should he eating (around 16,000) are way to high, and in nervous I’m just going to put on more weight by switching how much I’m eating. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • To make fat loss gain, Investigate 16:8 Intermediate fasting. Search it on reddit, or leangains.com. Basically, you eat your 1300 calories between 10am-6pm only. It resets your insulin hormone and helps weight loss a lot! You may need to back off crossfit to cut. Then you can add one or 2 carbs per week into your macros without gaining because at this rate, you risk burn out of your metabolism. Check into reverse dieting for more info on that.

  9. Great article!!! I am a 220 pound male and I was undereating in an attempt to lose the last few pounds I needed to lose. I was doing the keto diet and eating around 1800 calories a day and working out six days a week with no results. Increased my caloric intake to 2600 calories a day and added a few carbs and started losing fat and adding muscle immediately.

  10. Hi,

    I am a 24 year old female and I weigh 118 pounds, I have been stuck at this weight for a while and I have tried eating higher calorie in the past and havent seen results and I am unsure of what is the right approach for me or how much I should be eating. I exercise around 4/5 days per week doing a mixture of hitt cardio and bootcamp style classes using free weights.

  11. Me 49yr Male,6ft big frame Mar30/17, I quit drinking, started cardio (was drinking 1-1/2 liters of 14% red wine, daily for about 10yrs! A 4L box every 3-4days) went cold turkey, I started to drop weight fast 260lbs mar 30 to 220 in Apr30, 40lbs! But I had severe night sweats, soaking the sheets, no appetite low hunger. I take 2mulit vitamins, vege-green drink, anyway, I feel great, now run 5-6 miles each morning, weights every second day, I eat 1egg for B-fast 2-3 black coffees lots of water and my Vege-green drink, lunch is chicken salad. Or ceaser salads, pizza or pasta, and veggies, supper half a chicken or whatever,

    Anyway I never feel hungry anymore, but still eat, I think I’m around the 1500-2000 calories, maybe less, anyway I’ve kinda platoed at 220-215 which I’m good with that, but I have been getting severe pain in my muscles that feels like a strong burning sensation started in my left calf, getting in my truck, week later that went away, then in my wrist, then it went away, now in both my shoulders during rotation or routine movements like drying off with a towel, this has also come with localized numbness on both sides behind my arms and including my shoulders, any ideas what is causing this, or what to do about it?

    • I know you posted this a month ago. It sounds like you may have a Magnesium deficiency.

  12. I’m a 32 year old 5’3″ female who weighs 125-130 and has a muscular build. I feel like I have a lot of trouble eating enough calories – I feel and sleep best when I eat around 2000 calories per day, but I find it very difficult to get that many calories…I feel like the volume of food is so much! I get full from the volume and then I feel like I’m force-feeding myself to get the rest of the calories I need. I work out with weights/walking/hiking/yoga/pilates for at least 30 minutes 5-7 days per week. Any less calories than 2000 and I am waking during the night starving, and I struggle with hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings on those days as well. Any suggestions?

    • Add more oils and fats to your meals. A tablespoon of oil adds more than a hundred calories to a meal!

  13. Hello,

    My wife I feel has an eating disorder. If she eats she hides eating. We have children and they say that they never see there mother eat. We have had some issues of the course of 3 months and her eating has gotten worse. She was about 5’6 and about 160 pounds. In the course of 3 months she lost over 50 I would say. Skin and bones? Thoughts?

  14. Hi, please help!! I’ve been wanting to lose weight I’m 155lbs, 19 years, and 5’4. I’ve been lifting weights 3x a week and cardio 4x a week for 60 mins each. It’s been 4 weeks and I still haven’t lost any weight. After reading this article I think I’m undereating cuz my calories were around 1000-1200 each day so maybe that’s it? So now do I just increase my calorie intake with healthy foods and keep exercising?? Also how much should I start taking

    • That’s way too low for all the activity you’re doing. That’s even lower than your basal metabolic rate (BMR), you definitely are starving your body and putting it into a catabolic state.

      At 155, your BMR is probably around 1500 calories but it might be higher than that because you lift weights and weight lifting increases muscle mass and your metabolism a little bit.

      You’re also young and younger people’s metabolism is usually higher too.

      You definitely need to eat more than your BMR which is 1500. You probably need to eat between 1800-2400 calories.

      Up your calories slowly! Don’t jump from 1200 to 1800 in one day. This will shock your body and you’ll end up gaining weight. Go from 1200 to 1400 a day for one week and then from 1400 to 1600 the second week; increase your calories in incremental stages.

      Be sure to include quality protein, gluten-free carbs, complex carbs, fiber and healthy fats.

  15. Hi. I need advice.
    I’m very new to changing my lifestyle.
    And I’m very lazy and sedentary.
    I am a stay at home mom to an infant who doesn’t run around. So I can pretty much sit all day.
    I am 24 year old female.
    I am 5’3″.
    I weigh 200 lbs ??
    I am trying to eat 2 salads a day
    – one is a tuna salad.
    – one is a chicken salad.
    Then I eat a high fiber, high protein cereal.
    I eat snacks like: halo top ice cream, rice cakes, of course fruits like watermelon, bananas, apples, and pineapple.
    I almost ALWAYS drink water only.
    But like I said. I’m very sedentary.
    How many calories should I eat to lose 60 ish pounds by the end of this year.
    Is my diet ok?