The effects of not consuming enough calories...

Ninety percent of the foods I eat are whole foods and organic. I try to keep my food very "clean" and unprocessed. I have been eating like this for almost three year now. I have seen a boatload of health benefits since I changed the way I eat and of course how my family eats. Healthier teeth, clearer skin, weight loss, my son's eczema cleared and the list goes on.

But even when you eat good foods you still need to consume enough calories. As my fitness increased my calories should have increased along side it. I really didn't think about it that much. I just added a snack or two here and there. My snacks didn't equal enough calories to make up for all the calories burned running, swimming or biking.

My body went into starvation mode. For real.
Starvation mode: is a state in which the body is responding to prolonged periods of low caloric intake levels. During short periods of caloric abstinence, the human body will burn primarily free fatty acids from body fat stores. After prolonged periods of starvation the body has depleted its body fat and begins to burn lean tissue and muscle as a fuel source.
The result of my low calorie intake and high intensity workouts left me with a very high body fat percentage. My body fat percentage is 10% higher than it was when I was 30 pounds over weight. The crazy thing is that I am in the athletic range for cardiovascular fitness with a resting heart rate of 57. Which means my body burned lean tissue and muscle instead of fat and any food that I ate went straight into fat stores instead of being used for energy.

There were many signs that my body was not functioning correctly. I just felt too busy to address them. I thought I just needed more sleep so I stopped working out in the mornings to catch a few more hours of sleep each day. I also hadn't lost one pound in a year of intense running which is odd since I knew I had a little (5-10lbs) to lose.

Within the first couple weeks of eating the right calorie amount for me and my fitness regimes I started to shed weight. I am in week five of P90X and have lost 5 pounds and I have shaved 2% off my body fat percentage.

If you eat healthy foods it can be a challenge to get your calories into the higher ranges it can feel like you are eating a lot of food. I know I have had to make those adjustments but I feel great because of the changes and I am seeing great results from adding calories.

If you haven't calculated the calories you need please take a minute to figure that out. Your body will thank you for it. Who knows you may be able to shave off those last stubborn pounds by eating more!

Also don't focus only on what the scale says it can dash your motivation. For example say Lulu weighs 160 pounds and her body fat percentage is 34%. After a month of eating right and exercising she weighs in at 158 pounds. She gets a frustrated that she has only lost two pounds in a month. But if she were to re-calculate her body fat percentage she would see that she is at 30% coming down a whopping 4%. Which shows that she has gained four pounds of lean muscle mass!! She has lost more fat than the scale alone will reveal and she has brought her body fat percentage into a healthy range.

So get your body fat percentage figured out. The easiest way to do this is by having / buying a scale that  can measure your body fat percentage. These can actually be more accurate than a fat caliper test, so a friend in the food science has shared with me. :)

Next post on nutrition will be a sample of my daily menu plan in the 1200-1500 calorie range and a sample of my day at 1900-2200 range.

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