The Risks of Eating Too Little

I spend a lot of time here focusing on healthy eating and recipes, and I often include calorie counts for those who are interested in tracking their calories. But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about how eating too little can stall your weight loss efforts… and be downright dangerous. You might not equate the weight loss process with the possibility of eating too little: you should have the biggest deficit possible to lose the most weight, right?! WRONG.

A healthy deficit for losing weight is up to 1000 calories a day. A woman aiming to lose should never eat less than 1200 calories a day, and a man should stick to 1500 calories minimum. This is the safe recommended minimum to keep your body running well while still allowing you to lose weight. When I was actively losing, I rarely ate fewer than 1600 calories a day. And now that I’m basically in maintenance, I rarely eat fewer than 2,000 calories a day on average.

Even if you’re doing it unconsciously, eating too little can cause some serious health problems. If you’re eating fewer calories than your bare minimum, you probably aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body functioning. Here are some signs you might be eating too little.

Fatigue

Are you tired all the time? Our bodies get energy from the calories in the food we eat, and we use that energy for basic and automatic bodily processes, like breathing, thinking and digestion. Eating too little can make you feel both physically and mentally exhausted, which can make each day feel harder and affect your productivity. It also affects your physical activity performance, preventing you from getting all the benefits from your workouts.

Weakened Immune System

A diet imbalance caused by eating too few calories can prevent your body from obtaining the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy immune system, which could cause you to get sick more often and cause each illness to last longer. This is especially important for those with already weakened immune systems like children and the elderly.

Constipation

When you eat too little, your body has less food to process into stool, which can cause your stool to harden and be difficult or painful to expel. Constipation is generally thought to mean having fewer than three bowel movements per week and can indicate a slowed metabolic rate.

Skin Issues

Skin can be more affected and damaged by inflammation and UV exposure if you don’t consume enough of the nutrient necessary to keep skin healthy. Vitamin E, B-3 and Niacin are all important vitamins for skin health.

Hair Loss

Have you noticed and increase of hair in the drain after you shower, or in your brush? When you eat too little, the body prioritizes its functions, and you can begin to lose hair. The body doesn’t want to waste precious calories on maintaining hair growth and follicle health, so your hair will fall out at a higher than average rate.

Reproductive Issues

The hypothalmus is in charge of telling your pituitary gland to produce reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The hypothalmus is very sensitive to changes in calorie intake and weight and if the balance of reproductive hormones isn’t spot on, it can cause menstruation to be thrown off or even stop, and when this happens, it can be difficult or impossible to get pregnant.

Irritability, Depression and Anxiety

Eating too few calories can seriously affect your mood in many different ways. When you don’t eat enough, your blood sugar can drop, causing hypoglycemia, the symptoms of which are irritability, sweating, anxiety and shakiness, etc. Have you seen those candy bar commercials where crabby people are handed a candy bar and told to eat? That could be you! Not eating enough can also cause you to feel more emotionally sensitive and a side effect of vitamin D deficiency is depression. Anxiety can also be caused by not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, known to decrease anxiety.

Problems Sleeping

Having trouble falling asleep because you’re hungry, or waking up in the middle of the night hungry is a pretty obvious sign you’re not eating enough. But it can also lead to not spending enough time in deep sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.

Feeling Cold

Your body needs a certain number of calories to complete all of its basic functions, and that includes keeping up your core temperature. Studies have also shown that a restrictive diet can cause a decrease in T3 thyroid hormones, which helps maintain body temperature, along with other functions.Constant HungerIf you’re always hungry, it should be pretty obvious that you’re not eating enough. But many people force themselves to ignore hunger signs in order to lose weight. Being a little hungry sometimes is okay, but low calorie intake can cause a number of problems in the hunger department, like an increase in cortisol, which is the hormone that can increase belly fat. Spending too much time hungry can also increase cravings and cause you to binge, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.

Sources:

Healthline

Medical News Today

A Quick And Dirty Guide to Protein Powder

Protein powders. There are so many on the market, which one is best? Here’s a fast guide to the various protein powders on the market.

Dairy Based Proteins

Whey Concentrate

Whey makes up 20% of the protein in cow’s milk and whey concentrate is the most common form of protein on the market. It’s reasonably priced and low in lactose so it’s manageable for most people. It’s the most popular form of protein on the market. Some people may experience some gas and bloating.

Whey Isolate

Whey isolate is my protein of choice. It’s very thin in texture and virtually fat free. The low carb content makes this a great choice for low carb diets. This makes it great for a snack at any time of day. It’s also one of the fastest absorbing proteins. My preferred brand is Isopure, because their whey isolate mixes are zero carb or VERY low carb, so you are getting almost pure protein in each serving.

Casein

Casein protein makes up 80% of cow’s milk protein and unlike whey concentrates and isolates it is a slow release protein. Many people prefer to use casein at night as the slow absorption rate promotes recovery while you sleep. Casein tastes pretty much the same as concentrates and isolates but is much thicker in texture.

Plant Based Proteins

Soy

Soy protein is commonly used in food products that require extra protein, specifically protein bars. Unfortunately, soy protein has a flavor that isn’t easily overcome by added flavorings and can sometimes be unpleasant. It does have the benefits of coming with its own amino acids: specifically glutamine, arginine and BCAAs. You can read more about these in my previous posts about aminos. Some people may want to avoid soy protein due to its effects on thyroid levels and hormones. Soy is considered a complete protein.

Hemp

If you want a complete, plant-based protein, but are concerned about the use of pesticides or genetic modification, hemp protein is for you. Hemp is naturally acclimated to organic farming and is a non-GMO crop. Like soy, it is a complete protein.

Rice

Brown rice protein is a great alternative for people with food allergies because it has none of the allergens that can be found in some protein powders that include gluten, egg, dairy or soy. Rice  protein is considered an incomplete protein because it’s low in lysine, so if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll want to pair it with foods that are high in lysine, such as legumes and beans. No, this does NOT mean you need to have a bean smoothie, just make sure beans are in your diet.

Pea

Pea protein is yet another complete plant based protein. It’s stronger in flavor than rice protein, but less strong than soy. I personally find it too gritty to drink as a shake, but it works very well in baked goods, particularly as the earthy flavor accentuates chocolate or cocoa powder. (I made brownies with mine!)

Animal Proteins

Egg

Egg albumin hearkens back to a time before packaged protein powders, and is not often purchased or consumed in powdered form. Most people just purchase cartons of liquid egg whites and cook them. Because they’re delicious. 😉

Beef

If you don’t care about consuming animal products but you have a lactose problem, beef protein might be for you. It’s not known for its taste, however, and is not as readily absorbed by the body as whey protein. However it’s another good option for the Paleo crowd. Note: it’s not made from prime beef, but from the parts of the animal that would normally be discarded.

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Cooking With Protein Powder

Dairy proteins should not be heated. When the proteins in whey and casein are heated and denatured, they form a hard, rubbery substance not unlike a pencil eraser. YUCK. DO NOT WANT. However I have used both rice and pea protein in baking with excellent results. You may notice a slight graininess depending on how much you use. If you’re making a more subtly flavored dish I’d choose rice protein, and pea protein for stronger, earthier flavors.

I hope this primer on protein powder helps you decide what to try first!

 

Gaga for Ginger PLUS Meal Recap!

Ginger is AWESOME

ginger-newGinger is a flowering plant whose rhizome is used as a spice and traditional folk medicine. It’s used in many Southeast Asian cuisines in savory dishes, and here in the Western world it’s used as a sweet spice. (Oh hello pumpkin pie!)

I LOVE ginger: fresh, dried, in tea, pie or stir fry, and even as a home remedy for upset tummies. In fact, it’s this final usage that prompted me to talk about ginger on the blog today. There are times when my tummy feels… well let’s just say it feels a bit icky. And the idea of that ickyness becoming potentially worse terrifies me. (The television show MythBusters even found that ginger pills helped the most out of all the seasickness remedies they tried!) About a month ago my tummy was bothering me at work so I waltzed on down to the local tea shop (which coincidentally is in the building our shop USED to be in) and said hello to the owner. I told her I was specifically looking for ginger tea, and she pointed me in the direction of Ginger Root Herbal Tea. I take a tablespoon of crystals and put them in one of these cool teabags made for loose teas and dunk it in a cup of boiling water.

IMG_20150717_185431861Right now, I’m casually sipping on a warm cup of Trader Joe’s Ginger Pear Flavored White Tea. If I have fresh ginger, I’ll just slice it up and throw it in some boiling water to steep. This is my favorite way, actually, it’s the most potent. I know some people like to juice ginger into their fruit and vegetable juices, too! There are a ton of unproven supposed health benefits, too, but the only one I can attest to here is that it calms my tummy when I feel nauseous. It’s the only thing that works for me, and it works every time! Why do you think we always reach for ginger ale when we’re sick?!

Food, Glorious Food

I haven’t been posting a lot about my dinners lately, so I figured I’d give you a recap of what I’ve been eating lately. Absolutely everything is under 600 calories a meal, and almost always under 500!

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Ham & Cheese Pockets w/ Broiled Asparagus

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Eggplant Pizzas with Ham & Ricotta, Tossed Salad

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Homemade Sloppy Joes on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls with Broiled Corn on the Cob

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Sweet Potato “Pancakes” with Greek Yogurt and Sliced Strawberries

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Pork Chops with Broiled Peaches, Tossed Salad and Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

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BBQ Beef Tostada w/ Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad

Collard Green Wrapped Chicken Burritos
Collard Green Wrapped Chicken Burritos

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Here’s Bingley being SUPER CUTE at my work:

Is that the face of existential angst or what?
Is that the face of existential angst or what?