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Undereating & Overexercising

author image Laura Agadoni
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.
Undereating & Overexercising
Undereating and overexercising can be unhealthy. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Although it’s a bad practice, anyone can engage in undereating and overexercising. Some people do so when they have stalled in their weight loss goal as they try even harder to shed another few pounds. Undereating and overexercising is also common among teenage girls in the United States who worry excessively about their appearance. The media portrays being thin as the ideal body image, and many teens strive for that look. When undereating and overexercising are taken too far, it could lead to serious medical consequences, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Weight Plateau

When you have stopped making progress with your weight loss program, it is tempting to eat even less and work out harder than before. Strange as it might sound, you probably need to do the opposite — eat more and work out less, according to M. Mokros, a Las Vegas personal trainer, in ShapeFit. There is a phenomenon called overtraining, where you actually diminish your returns by constantly exercising at a high level for a long time daily without scheduling a rest period. This leads to a decrease in performance. A symbiotic relationship typically exists between overtraining and undereating, said Mokros. But if you take in too few calories, your body goes into starvation mode and hoards fat.


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by people starving themselves, usually accompanied by excessive exercise, in an attempt to lose weight and to prevent weight gain. This disorder is rooted in emotional problems; people think they need to be thin to have value. This disorder is dangerous because it can take over a person’s life and can be fatal. When people become severely malnourished, they can damage all their body’s organs.


Overtraining can lead to irritability, depression and difficulty concentrating. It can also cause elevated blood pressure. People can suffer from aches and pains and from overuse injuries that don’t heal when they overtrain. They also get tired from exercise sooner. Undereating can lead to anemia, heart problems, bone loss, loss of menstrual periods in women and decreased testosterone in men, constipation, bloating, nausea, low potassium levels and kidney problems.

Right Amount

The perfect formula to achieve a healthy body and a good physique regarding working out and eating right consists of a 20/20/60 split, according to Boris Sapone, a Las Vegas certified personal trainer, in ShapeFit. The first 20 refers to working out; the second 20 to resting from the workout, and the 60 refers to eating a nutritious and balanced diet. You need to take in enough calories for strength training and cardio exercises. If you don’t eat enough, you will be too weak to sustain an adequate workout. Aim to eat from six food groups daily: fruits, vegetables, carbs, protein and dairy, fats and sweets. Most of your diet should be fruits and vegetables, followed by carbs, then protein and dairy, then fats. The smallest amount would be sweets.

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