Lifestyle Articles

Under Eating, Over Training Syndrome Part 2

Under Eating, Over Training Syndrome Part 2

Dysfuntions caused by chronic calorie deficit diets.

In this article I address some Common dysfunctions caused by chronic caloric insufficiency.

Sub Optimal Thyroid Health

Without getting too techy on you, the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that are able to get into our cells and essentially tell them what to do and how quickly to do it. If for some reason our body is not making enough thyroid hormone or not converting enough of one type into another type our cells can become lazy. Lazy cells can then mean lazy anything in the body and this is why ensuring you have optimal thyroid hormone is crucial for both health and body composition. You can check out whether you are experiencing signs of low thyroid by taking my online quiz.

Unfortunately excess training and/or calorie restriction can affect the thyroid in a number of ways:

  • Inadequate nutrients to produce thyroid hormone or help with conversion such as zinc, selenium, magnesium.
  • Poor thyroid hormone T4 to T3 conversion caused by excess stress hormone levels from dieting and training.
  • High stress or inflammation can suppress the pituitary gland that produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), the hormone that tells the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.

Sub Optimal digestive Health

Our digestive system governs the health of all other systems in the body. Undereating and over training may be a major contributor to what is known as intestinal hyperpermiability / leaky gut, read more by clicking here.

A leaky bowel can lead to numerous other health issues, often causing us to become more reactive to the foods we eat, susceptible to more toxins entering the blood stream, all of which can trigger off immune and inflammatory responses.

Leaky bowel has also been closely linked with the thyroid autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s, which can lead to sub optimal thyroid output.

You can check whether you are showing signs of poor digestion or leaky gut by taking my online health quiz.

Improper Immune function

Our digestive system is said to make up around 80% of our immune system and during times of stress such as chronic under eating and overtraining our immune system can become compromised or out of balance. Many people that under eat/over train may suffer with an increase in allergies, asthma or even find they repetitively suffer with recurrent colds or infections.

Chronic stress caused by under eating/over training has the potential to reduce sIgA levels, a crucial protective mucosal layer that helps prevent toxins and bugs from the outside getting in the body. This is often why under stress or when run down, it is more common to suffer with nose, mouth and eye infections.

Imbalanced Adrenal Function

Our adrenal glands sit on our kidneys and they help produce certain hormones, primarily adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol. These hormones play a crucial role in the stress response, as they help raise blood glucose levels to make more available circulating sugar for if we need to fight or take flight. They also help raise blood pressure to help improve the circulation of these nutrients, dilate the pupils to increase the amount of information coming in, will push blood flow to the muscles and cardio vascular system, at the expense of other systems.

Acute stress is a normal part of existence, but chronic stress caused in some cases by high volume training and under eating can have numerous negative effects such as suppressing thyroid hormone production or increasing negative conversion resulting in less thyroid hormone T3, reducing our ability to digest and absorb nutrients, lower sIgA levels to name a few.

High cortisol from dieting and training is often why we actually feel great when first dieting. Cortisol acts as a very strong anti-inflammatory and awakening hormone, hence when many who start dieting like low carb and fasting report increases in energy and mental clarity initially and find it hard to associate bad health with that form of diet in the future as they had first created a positive bound with that method of eating.

The truth is though what might be helpful in one respect may be harmful in another and increases the importance of either be flexible to change your diet or to establish a more balanced diet from the start.

Lowered Male / Female Hormones

When our body is under chronic stress preference is shifted towards making us safe. Chronic stress exposure can lead to an overall reduction in certain hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, or reductions in certain hormones.

For example in females it is not uncommon to see major reductions in progesterone levels, which can ultimately lead to fertility problems or simply cause what would be seen as an estrogen dominance due to low progesterone levels.

Progesterone is also highly reliant upon proper thyroid hormone levels, so reductions in thyroid hormone will often cause a drop in progesterone.

Stress hormones can also directly impact on progesterone as cortisol is created from progesterone, thus if there is a high demand for cortisol production, such as chronic skipping meals, low carb/low calorie dieting, high volume training this can steal away from progesterone to enable adequate stress hormone production.

It is not just progesterone both estrogen and testosterone are required at optimal levels for both male and female health. Often chronic stress will cause an overall suppression of all of the hormones, usually resulting in issues with libido and in females commonly resulting in the cessation of menstruation.


These are just a few of the possible dysfunctions caused by chronic over training and under eating, and you can see how every system in the body works hand in hand with one another. Simply supporting one system may not be enough; the view should be to support the body as a whole, and to do this we must focus on creating a nutrition and lifestyle plan that has this comprehensive approach.

In the final section of this series of articles, I am going to look into possible changes you can make to recover from chronic over training and under eating.

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Tags: Nutritionist, Over Training, Under Eating, Dysfunctions


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