Let’s be serious….Our diets play an enormous role in our general health and athletic performance. All too often, poor nutrition is the weak link that is always inhibiting an athlete’s progress. While eating poorly is always the primary issue that needs correcting, not eating enough can cause athletes to lose muscle mass, lack energy and place them in a state of high stress.
Here are signs you aren’t eating enough:
· Lack of energy/Constant fatigue
· Not achieving desired muscle gain
· Bad mood/High Stress
· Loss of muscle mass
· Not making desired fat loss
· Poor recovery post-workout
Lack of energy/Constant fatigue
If you’re tired before you even start warming up for class, then that’s as clear a sign as any that you need to reevaluate when you’re eating, what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Skipping meals is not an option and having to rely on some dried fruit to give you an energy boost before a workout isn’t going to cut it either. You’re just not giving your body enough fuel to use as energy to be able to function at a high level—both inside the gym and out. So how do you rectify the issue? Needless to say, it’s too simple to just ‘eat more.' Obviously, that’s the heart of the problem, but we can dig a little deeper. Consider upping the frequency—but not necessarily the portion size—of your meals throughout the day. To increase the amount of food you eat without stuffing your face in a few monster meals, look to eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day, spaced evenly apart. Doing so will help to regulate your blood glucose levels, not to mention providing you a gradual energy release rather than one big high followed by a corresponding low (i.e. constant fatigue).
Not achieving desired muscle gain
Now, through doing CrossFit, I’m sure you’ve experienced some amount of noticeable increase in the size, definition and strength of your muscles. But many athletes could (and should) be seeing far greater changes in those areas. More often than not, the issue is a lack of nutrition to support increased muscle growth. If you want to build muscle, you need to lift heavy weights. If you want to be able to lift weights that progressively get heavier, you need to be eating more so that your muscles have the strength and energy to move that weight.
Bad mood/High Stress
We all experience stress in some form or another throughout the day—a tough CrossFit WOD is a perfect example of intentionally placing the body under physical stress. However, these workouts are acute stressors. But did you know that feeling irritable and stressed is also a sign that you’re not eating enough? In fact, complex carbohydrates (those high in fiber that we typically get from vegetables) are essential to the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that elevates mood, suppresses appetite, and has a calming effect.
Loss of muscle mass
Speaking of stress, the stress hormones our bodies naturally release are catabolic—which means that they increase muscle and tissue breakdown. In English, during an intense workout our muscle fibers experience tiny tears from physical stress (i.e. lifting weights) and the release of stress hormones. But once the workout is over and the acute stressor has subsided, our body starts the process of ‘repairing’ the damage to our tissue and fibers by making them stronger (muscle anabolism). This is how we get stronger, faster and fitter.
However, if we are experiencing chronic stress (which can be caused by not eating enough), our stress hormones are always elevated, meaning that we start to experience muscle catabolism even when we’re not working out. This means that if you’re consistently under-eating, you could begin to experience a loss of muscle mass. Your body needs carbohydrates and fats to use as energy in a workout. But if the body doesn’t have an adequate source of those nutrients, it will look to get the energy elsewhere—either from the existing fat stores in your body or by burning your muscle mass for energy. So if you’re starting to experience significant weight loss and/or visible muscle mass loss, up the consumption of your daily food intake (but once again, make sure to be eating the right kind of foods).
Not achieving desired fat loss
Contrary to popular belief, sometimes eating more (not less) will help you lose weight. Remember, if you’re not supplying the body with fuel from proper nutrition, it will hold on to your stored fat and start burning muscle tissue for energy. Also, a loss in muscle mass volume will slow down your metabolism—this is because the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn at rest. Increased stress caused by a lack of eating enough leads to a rise in cortisol levels, which increases the storage of fat cells in areas like your stomach. Essentially, not eating enough can have the exact opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve!
Poor recovery post-workout
As you know, the average CrossFit workout is performed at high intensity, and places a lot of physical (and mental) stress on the body. Our energy systems become depleted, our muscle fibers and tissues get damaged, so we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help our bodies recover post-workout. Doing lots of mobility work and getting proper sleep is essential, but perhaps the most important factor to recovering well is eating properly. If you find that you feel weak, sluggish and sore days after a workout (and it’s not the typical soreness you get from a brutal WOD), you need to be eating more food. You can’t expect your body to function at a high level from day to day if you’re giving it a limited amount of fuel. To help your muscles repair and grow, to have enough energy to move heavy weight and row long distances, you have to be eating plenty of food. As such, don’t neglect to get some protein and carbs into your system immediately after a workout. The 20-30 minute after you finishes a workout is a crucial period in which the protein in your muscles is still being broken down by the body. This is important because muscle growth depends on protein synthesis being greater than the breakdown of muscle protein. The faster protein can be absorbed and metabolized by the body, the more your muscles will develop as a result. Drink a whey protein shake, or have some nuts, eggs or a chicken breast ready to go as soon as you finish the WOD to help your body recover quickly.
Question Of The Day:
Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Bar Muscle Up Prep (10 x 5)
10 x 5 Banded Hollow Lat Pull Down
This is just the beginning for muscle ups.
Keep a TIGHT hollow body position, pinch those lats down, straight arm lever, pull band to high quad.
Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
10 Minute AMRAP:
10 Burpee Box Jump Over
10 DB Snatch
RX+ (30/24in' Box) (70lbs/50lbs)
RX (24/20in' Box)(50lbs/35lbs)
300 Double Unders FT
Metcon (No Measure)
Out Of Town WOD:
SPEND A TOTAL OF 5 MINUTES IN A HANDSTAND
Are You An Under-Eater? 8 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/are-you-an-under-eater-8-signs-youre-not-eating-enough/
7 SIGNS YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH | CrossFit St. Simons. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://crossfitssi.com/7-signs-youre-not-eating-enough/