Under Eating, Over Training Syndrome Part 1
Training like an athlete, eating like a catwalk model.
One of the biggest challenges I face these days is addressing the effects of chronic dieting on the health of my clients, mostly female clients. Years of body image issues and being told conflicting nutrition guidance such as low fat this and low carb that leaves them not only confused, but struggling to ever get results.
The typical client comes to me struggling in these areas:
- Inability to lose weight, no matter how much they train or what diet they go on
- Low/irregular energy
- Reduced health of their skin, hair and nails
- Increased hormonal symptoms perhaps increased menopausal symptoms of increased PMS type symptoms
- Constipation or other IBS type symptoms
- Hypersensitivities to certain foods
- Lowered body temperature
In recent years we have also seen the emergence of many females training like athletes but yet eating like catwalk models. The emergence of high volume strength training sessions like Crossfit and German body comp style training I think has been a blessing for many females, however if you are going to train like an athlete you need to eat like one too!
I have been fortunate enough this year to work with one of the UK’s top female athletes, who has gone on to win two commonwealth games medals and just recently a gold and a silver at the European Championships. The training volume used by this athlete is often less than what I see many female clients are doing, who are also holding down a stressful job and juggling the demands of a family at the same time.
The long-term success of our training and body composition results are dictated by the health of the body on a cellular level. Remembering that all of our cells are made up of and function because of vitamins, minerals, amino acids (proteins), fatty acids (fats) and fuel well off glucose (carbs, especially with high volume strength training) is crucial. They can also be negatively affected by excess circulating free radicals, toxins or excess acidity, all something that our cells are exposed to at a higher level when training volume increases.
Ultimately the combination of high volume training and low volume eating will lead to nutritional insufficiencies, which can then impact on the function of every cell in the body. Not only that but high volume training will raise stress hormones, just like low calorie diets, low carb diets, fasting and skipping meals.
Our body is not designed to be in this chronic state of stress, and the accumulative effect of years or sometimes even just months of dieting and training can cause a host of health issues and symptoms.
In the short term high volume training and lower calorie or carb eating seems to have its benefits (if looking at it purely from a fat/weight loss point of view), however chronic use of this will leave the body more and more depleted, making it harder for our cells to function and thus our organs to do what they are meant to do. Over time this might lead to reductions in hormones that are crucial for the goal of fat loss such as thyroid hormones and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). Nutritional insufficiencies will also make the body less efficient at utilising the energy you intake from food.
In the next part I will talk about the common dysfunctions I see caused by chronic calorie or macro restriction and / or excess training volume to nutritional intake.