With the obesity epidemic haunting our world, it's hard to maintain a healthy weight and overall nutrition. However, high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and high risks of CVD aren’t the only problems in our society. While many people struggle with the overconsumption of food, others struggle with not receiving enough nutrients. Here are symptoms of not eating enough calories for you.

Alex Frank

Being under a lot of pressure, stress, obsessing over body image, consuming too many “empty calories,” or simply not having food available are all causes of these ten symptoms. 

1. You Constantly Feel Like You Have Low Energy

A calorie, as you learned in various Physics, Biology, and Chemistry courses in high school or college, is a basic unit of energy. Or, as I like to think of it, a calorie is a tiny troll that crawls into your pants during the night and makes them tighter. On a more scientific note, it's the amount of energy needed to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius—we get our energy from the food we eat.

Just like a car doesn’t function if it doesn’t have gasoline, if we don’t fuel our bodies with the energy we need, we will be fatigued and worn out. In addition, if we burn more calories with the physical activity that we do than what we consume, and our calorie intake doesn’t support that physical activity, our energy levels will also lower. 

2. You Feel Cold All The Time

A study showed that calorie restriction causes a decrease in T3 thyroid, a hormone that helps maintain healthy body temperature. Therefore, as you restrict your calorie intake, your body temperature will decrease, making you feel cold all the time. 

3. You Are Constipated

Many times, constipation happens because we are not eating the right foods or not eating enough, lack of exercise, and even stress. If experiencing blockage because of not eating enough is the case for you, it might be one of the symptoms of not eating enough calories. Filling up your plate with whole grains and fruits and vegetables, which are full of fiber, as well as healthy fats and proteins, will help you increase your bowel movements and relieve your situation

4. You're Irritable

Hangry. Ever heard of such a thing? If you talk to me before I have my breakfast and my coffee in the morning, then you will have seen a serious case of hanger in the flesh. It’s no surprise that when you don’t eat, your body craves energy from the glucose it isn’t receiving. Your blood glucose levels drop, and your brain sends signals to your body to release hormones. One of these hormones is adrenaline, the same hormone we use in “fight or flight” scenarios, leading us to snap at certain situations and appear “hangry.”

5. You Have Trouble Concentrating

Speaking from experience, if I don’t have breakfast before my morning class, then I might as well not go because my mind will be wandering off to my growling stomach and I won’t be able to concentrate. As mentioned before, if your body doesn’t obtain the glucose it needs (hypoglycemia), you may experience impaired thinking, learning, and memorizing. 

6. You Are Constantly Hungry and Have Cravings

Ever had those days when you find yourself craving certain foods throughout the day even though you’ve “eaten” a decent meal? Most of the time, this happens because you've eaten crappy foods with “empty calories” such as starchy carbs. This can also occur if you decided to skip breakfast and/or lunch—by the time you get to dinner you eat a huge meal to compensate your under-eating. Hunger signals your body to eat, and feeling like you’re hungry all the time is a sign of not consuming nutrient-rich foods, lean protein and healthy fats.

7. You Have Trouble Sleeping And Are Tired All Day

While not sleeping enough has been linked to overeating throughout the day, not eating enough is also linked to sleep deprivation. You know the general formula. Exercise, good sleep, and eating right make for optimal health, but, hey, I am a college student too and I know how impossible committing to all three tasks and juggling classes is. Still, I do know sleep is incredibly important, especially when you’re trying to keep your grades up. An easy way to make sure you get a good night sleep is by nourishing your body with the right foods. 

8. You Experience Certain Vitamin Deficiencies

candy, sweet, dairy product, cake mix, milk, chocolate, spam, goody
Ari Richman

Vitamin deficiencies are incredibly common among college students all over the world. Having a vitamin deficiency is pretty annoying—you sit there as the doctor tells you which vitamin you’re deficient in and think, “You mean I could’ve avoided this by eating?” But it’s far more complicated than that—there are so many vitamins that, as college students, we don’t have the time or energy to think about it.

#SpoonTip: Vitamin deficiencies should be diagnosed by a doctor to determine if supplements are needed. 

9. You Have Headaches Frequently

That ongoing migraine that haunts you day and night may be one of the symptoms of not eating enough calories. Going through a long time without eating, eating high-sugar foods, and putting yourself under a strict diet regime can all cause hypoglycemic headaches or migraines. The same happens when you experience dehydration, lack of sleep, or caffeine withdrawals.  

10. You Feel Anxious

Similarly, a drop in blood glucose levels in your body can cause a certain degree of anxiety. If you submit your body to constant, recurring strict dieting or meal-skipping, the anxiety can worsen as well as cause unnecessary moodiness and stress. 

The consequences of restricting your calorie intake, for any reason whatsoever, can cause these ten symptoms of not eating enough calories. As someone who struggled with this myself, I know how hard it is to just “eat” when you’ve mentally conditioned yourself to reject food. However, learning how to have a healthy relationship with food is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and you'll avoid many unwanted symptoms.