When you’re trying to lose weight, you might feel tempted to under-eat and overdo it on the exercise, but any wellness expert will tell you that this is extremely bad practise. Many teenage girls commonly under-eat and over-exercise as a part of body dismorphia, striving for the ‘ideal body image’ that the media portrays, but putting their wellbeing at jeopardy to serious medical consequences, say the National Institutes of Health.
Often, people feel like under-eating and over-exercising when their weight loss has hit a plateau, but, odd as it seems, doing just the opposite might be the thing you need, says personal trainer M. Mokros. According to Mokros, there is such a thing as ‘overtraining’ where consistent high levels of exercise, without rest periods, actually diminishes your returns, and decreases your performance. This is because if you take in too few calories, your body goes into starvation mode and hoards fat.
Overexercising often goes with undereating for those who suffer from anorexia nervosa (which often gets shortened to anorexia). People with anorexia often think they need to be thin to have value, and their physical body is rooted in their emotional wellness. Not only does this disorder take over your life and affect your health, it can be fatal. Anorexia leads to malnourishment, and all of your body’s organs can suffer because of it.
Specifically, overexercising can cause mental and emotional problems, such as irritability, depression and difficulty concentrating, as well as physical risks like elevated blood pressure, aches and pains, injuries that don’t heal, and quick fatigue from exercise. Undereating, alone, can lead to anaemia, heart problems, bone loss, loss of menstrual periods in women and decreased testosterone in men, constipation, bloating, nausea, low potassium levels and kidney problems, so you can imagine what the combination will do!
So what is the right balance to have? According to personal trainer Boris Sapone, it comes down to a 20/20/60 split; the first 20 referring to working out, the second 20 to resting from the workout, and the 60 refers to eating a nutritious and balanced diet. Not eating enough means you’ll be too weak to sustain an adequate workout, and The Mayo Clinic recommends you eat from six food groups every day, which means fruits and vegetables making up most of your diet, followed by carbs, then protein and dairy, then fats, with sweets bringing up the rear.