Undereating & Stomach Fat

You would think eating less would result in less stomach fat. Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily so. Eating less food than your body needs results in malnutrition. This can be in the form of vitamin deficiencies, protein deficiency and/or carbohydrate deficiency. Ultimately, this leads to starvation of the body. There are many pictures of people on TV literally starving with a round tummy. This is called kwashiorkor.

A woman is holding her stomach. Credit: Creative-Family/iStock/Getty Images

Function

Your body needs a wide variety of nutrients to keep it functioning. Just like your car, if you don't fill up every once in awhile, you won't be going anywhere. Your body works in a similar manner. If we don't eat enough, stored fat can't keep the body functioning. To lose weight, you do need to cut calories and/or increase activity. You need to continue to eat enough food to support your body's functions and stay healthy. Under-eating means you are starving the various parts of your body and they'll eventually quit on you.

Fat

Eating less than your body needs causes levels of cortisol to rise. This stress hormone causes the body to hold on to every morsel of fuel that comes its way. The best place to store those morsels is in the abdomen. The less you eat, the more your body thinks it's starving, so like a small child refusing to give up his favorite toy, your body isn't going to give up any fat stores until it absolutely has to. That means under-eating isn't going to eliminate stomach fat until there isn't enough muscle to consume.

Kwashiorkor

Undereating actually causes your body to consume muscle tissue to provide enough energy to keep the body going. By undereating, you lose muscle and muscle definition due to the muscles being cannibalized. Kwashiorkor is primarily a lack of protein in the diet. One of the symptoms is the protruding belly. It isn't actually fat, but fluid leaking from all the cells in the body into the abdominal cavity. This is a severe form of undereating and is rare in the U.S., although many people may suffer from different degrees of malnutrition from not eating enough.

Effects

If your body isn't getting enough food, you are going to be tired and your stomach growling and cramping may disrupt your sleep. Building and repairing muscle takes place during sleep, which can't happen when there isn't enough food to work with. You're at risk for kidney failure, heart attack and even death. You will also suffer from mood swings and generally not feel well. Eating enough to supply your body with enough fuel will actually help you to lose weight. Adding exercise will help you lose that stomach fat. You'll feel a lot better, too.

references
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.