Make sure you get enough calories for good weight loss.

When people begin a weight loss plan, it's common for them to cut their calories drastically from what they were eating previously. There's often fast weight loss in the beginning, but then it seems as though it hits a plateau.

If this has happened to you, the problem could be something that sounds counter-intuitive: you might not be eating enough.

How Does Eating Too Little Stall Weight Loss?

Eating food gets your body's metabolism going. If you have heard the saying, "You must spend money to make money," the idea here is the same: "You must take in calories to burn calories."

Eating food starts your body down the track of burning calories and using fat stores for energy.

Alternatively, if you don't eat enough calories, your body will think that food is scarce and start conserving fat stores, using lean muscle for energy instead. That isn't what you want.

Signs You Might Not Be Eating Enough to Lose Weight

Here are some signs that you might be restricting your calories too much, triggering a fat-conserving response in your body:

  • You fantasize about food all the time. If your body feels like it's starving, it will send panic signals to your brain, triggering cravings and obsessive thoughts about food to get you to eat something.
  • You have cut out meals. If you are skipping a meal to lose weight, you are probably not taking in enough calories, and your weight loss will likely stall. Be sure you're eating three meals per day and two or three small, protein and fiber-rich snacks.
  • You're getting headaches. If you are suddenly getting unexplained headaches on your new diet plan, you are probably not eating enough. Low blood sugar levels can cause headaches.
  • You're fatigued. If you are dragging through your day, don't have the energy for your workouts, and feel tired all the time, you're probably running low on calories. You might even notice that you catch colds more easily.
  • You feel grumpy routinely. Being hungry can cause a person to feel irritable or even angry. If you find that you are inexplicably crabby a lot, you might be restricting your calories too much.
  • You aren't satisfied after your meals. If you don't feel satisfied when your food is gone, you might be limiting your calories too much. Of course, there are emotionally-based cravings, too, but if you find that your meals are generally so tiny that you still feel hungry at the end, you need more to eat.

How to Ensure You're Getting Enough Food

Choose a diet plan that includes high amounts of protein and fiber. These nutrients help you feel full while providing decent calorie amounts. They also encourage good metabolism. Here are some ideas:

  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast like eggs along with some fiber such as whole grain toast to get your metabolism going while getting good calories.
  • Snack on non-starchy vegetables between meals.
  • Have lean protein and vegetables for lunch; make sure you have a decent amount and include a healthy fat like olive oil.
  • Have a handful of healthy nuts with some berries in the afternoon to keep your metabolism going and boost your energy.
  • Eat a good, balanced dinner that's high in protein and fiber, like a grilled chicken salad.

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