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Are You Overtraining and Undereating?

You’ve been working hard on your workouts. You’re training multiple times a week and are committed to seeing results.

But instead, you’re feeling run down, unmotivated, and the results that you’ve been expecting just aren’t happening.

You’re curious if overtraining and undereating could be the cause.

We’ve seen this before, and the answers might surprise you.

In this guide, we’re covering some of the most important things you need to know about overtraining and undereating and what you can do to overcome the issue. Keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

What Does Overtraining and Undereating Do to Your Body?

There are many benefits to exercising — both emotional and social.

But the mix of overtraining and undereating can wreak havoc on your body.

To put it simply, food is fuel.
If you think of your body as a vehicle, it may put this into perspective. If you want your vehicle to run right and be of good use for years to come, you must continually maintain the car. For the car to run, it needs fuel. If you don’t add fuel to your car regularly, it will stop running.

When you don’t fuel your body with food, eventually you’re going to be running on E, just like that car.


4 Signs of Overtraining and Undereating

Do you feel off or downright unmotivated? Maybe you struggle to convince yourself to go workout, and when you finally get your training in, you’re drained — mentally and physically.

Your body relies on food for energy levels, focus, and more. Without that fuel, especially if you’re overtraining, you’re putting yourself at risk for …

  • Injuries
  • Hair loss
  • Anemia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Chronic stress
  • Reduced endurance and agility
  • Changes in, or loss of, your menstrual cycle
  • Irritability 
  • Decreased muscle mass/muscle damage
  • Insomnia

…  and more. 

We’re discussing three common signs of overtraining and undereating in the following sections.

#1: Lethargy

Janet’s been training consistently for months. Recently, she decided to change her diet. She’s been intaking fewer calories, but her training has remained as intense as it was before the start of the diet.

Now, Janet can’t focus. She’s continuously feeling unmotivated, irritable, and in a haze. No matter how much sleep she gets, she can’t overcome being so sluggish. Even doing the laundry has become an exhausting task.

What’s the culprit?


Although Janet’s workouts haven’t changed, her diet isn’t fueling her body the way it needs to be. After talking with her nutritionist, Janet realized that her new diet has resulted in several deficiencies, including:

  • B vitamins — most commonly B9 or B12
  • Iron — although red meats aren’t always preferred, they are a great source of iron
  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Etc. 

Burnout happens quickly if you aren’t supplying your body with the proper nutrients and hydration it needs to energize your body enough to:

  1. Execute your training without getting fatigued
  2. Get through the day to day activities without feeling lethargic

#2: Poor Sleep

Do you have trouble falling to sleep or staying asleep? Overtraining and undereating may be to blame.

Disrupted sleep, insomnia, or interrupted sleep are tell-tell signs that you’re overtraining and undereating. Low blood sugar levels increase the hormone cortisol’s secretion, leading to disrupted sleep.

Essentially, your body is telling your brain that it needs food.

#3: Chronic Stress

Exercise can be a great way to relieve stress and increase endorphin production. However, if you’re overtraining and undereating, your body isn’t getting enough nutrients or time to rest and recover. This could inadvertently be causing more stress on your body.

Chronic stress can lead to putting your body in a constant state of “fight or flight.” When you’re constantly stressed, all of your other bodily systems stop functioning as efficiently as they should.

#4: Loss of Appetite

You’re eating less, so your appetite should be in full gear, right? Not exactly.

When you’re not fueling your body for those training sessions, your metabolism can take a severe hit. By undereating, you’re confusing the hormones that tell your body when you’re hungry.

Are you experiencing signs that you could be overtraining and undereating? Maybe you’re unsure of how to approach overcoming the problem.

Our compassionate coaches at In Motion O.C. can help you meet your fitness goals and overcome obstacles like overtraining and undereating by educating you about proper nutrition and creating a training program that works for you.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Overtrain and Undereat

You’re determined to live the healthiest life, and you’ve always considered working out as the best way to do it. You work hard at the gym and do your best to limit your caloric intake. You never realized that this could actually be causing more harm than good.

Let’s take a look at how.

#1: You Lose Efficiency

You want to perform to the best of your ability, but you are essentially setting yourself up for failure if you’re not eating the proper amount and types of food.

When your body thinks it has to prioritize essential activities — breathing, body temperature, blood pressure — it uses resources to put them first. Your body puts rebuilding muscle on the backburner.

A nutrient-dense diet will help you perform your best during training. A proper diet will increase your overall agility and stamina without risking overtraining and causing injuries to your muscles.

#2: You’ll Lose Muscle Mass

Overtraining and undereating can not only cause you to lose efficiency, but it can also cause you to lose muscle mass. If you have weight loss goals, eating less may sound like a good idea, but if it doesn’t align with your fitness goals, you won’t see the results you’re hoping for.

Yes, you might lose some weight, but most of that weight will be muscle mass.

#3: You’ll Feel Less Motivated To Work Out

Have you been avoiding the gym? Have you gone from loving your daily run to barely getting through the first half a mile? Overtraining and undereating could be to blame.

Your body relies on the fuels from food to function. Without that fuel, you may start to feel a lack of motivation. When a workout hurts unnecessarily, and you leave training feeling worse than you did when you arrived, your body will want you to stop doing it.

This doesn’t just apply to working out. Underfueling your body can make you feel less motivated to do everyday activities — it wants to save the energy for essential bodily functions only.

How to Recover From Overtraining and Undereating

If you’re worried that you may be overtraining and undereating, there are several steps you can take to recover from it and avoid it happening again in the future.

Avoid Skipping Meals

Skipping meals, ever, is a big no-no. Although it may not seem like a big deal to skip breakfast, or grab a snack bar for lunch, in order to reduce the number of calories you take in, research shows that skipping meals can harm your health.

To maintain a healthy weight, stay motivated, and remain efficient during your workouts, you must balance the energy you expend and the energy you take in from fueling your body with healthy food. And as always, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — water fuels your body, too.

Make Sure You’re Consuming Enough Protein

In order to avoid injury and burnout, eating a balanced diet is critical. To build muscle and recover from overuse, it’s important that you eat all the right combinations of foods, including carbs, healthy fats, and proteins.

Large chain amino acids found in protein are essential for building and maintaining muscle, making them the key to muscle recovery.

Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

As mentioned earlier, a lack of proper nutrients can lead to a rise in cortisol levels. But that’s not the only reason you’ll see your cortisol levels rise.

When your body isn’t getting enough rest, your body’s level of growth hormone increases, also resulting in a rise in cortisol levels.

This elevated level of cortisol can result in:

  • Your body holding onto fat 
  • Weakened immune responses
  •  High blood pressure
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Risk for injury during a workout

That pre-workout drink you’ve been downing isn’t going to make up for the four hours of sleep you’ve lost every night.

Listen To Your Body

While “feeling the burn” can help motivate you during a workout, it’s important that you listen to your body and know how to distinguish if its tightness, soreness, etc. or if you’re experiencing pain due to an injury.

Mild muscle soreness is normal for 24-48 hours after a workout. With a bit of stretching and use, the soreness should subside.

If the soreness extends past a few days or continues to worsen, it’s likely a sign of overuse or even an injury.

How To Avoid Overtraining and Undereating

We’ve addressed what overtraining and undereating look like and how to recover, but how do you avoid it from happening?

Is it as easy as just eating more food?

Not necessarily, but your nutrition does matter. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid overtraining and undereating so that you get the most out of your workouts and feel good as much as possible.

Stay on Top of Your Nutrition

What does eating “enough” really mean? It means supplying your body with foods that fuel your tank. Ensure you are taking in healthy fats, carbs, proteins, etc. that will supply your body with the energy it needs to train.

Does your fuel intake match your energy expenditure? It’s vital that you understand how much food your body needs — and what types of foods — based on the kind of training you’re doing.

Get a Fitness Coach

Still unsure of how you can avoid overtraining and undereating? Or maybe you’re looking for help enhancing your workouts?

A fitness coach can guide you through what a proper nutrition plan looks like for your unique needs.

At In Motion O.C., we pride ourselves on putting your health first. Our exceptionally educated fitness coaches are ready to help you learn how to train correctly and fuel your body with the energy it needs to meet your fitness goals. We don’t just want you to get stronger. We want you to feel better.

If you’re ready to improve your overall health or learn more about how we can help you change your habits, contact us today.

In Motion O.C.