As summer draws ever closer thousands of women are falling into the habit of over-training and under-eating in a desperate bid to sculpt their dream ‘beach body’.
And while you might see physical changes in the short-term, these habits can have a detrimental impact on your health and will do nothing to assist with your long-term fitness goals.
‘Some want to lose weight quickly or are trying to make extreme changes to their body composition. Others get carried away by fitness and don’t realise they are overdoing it,’ certified personal trainer Rachael Attard, from Sydney, said.
Whatever the reason, it can have severe consequences on your health and wellbeing ranging from illness, injuries, infertility, heart damage and long-term metabolism problems.
‘Some want to lose weight quickly or are trying to make extreme changes to their body composition. Others get carried away by fitness and don’t realise they are overdoing it,’ certified personal trainer Rachael Attard (pictured), from Sydney, said
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU OVER-TRAIN?
According to Rachael, the positive side effects of working out only work up to a certain point. After you reach that threshold, extra exercise can actually do you harm and hurt your progress.
‘This mostly happens when you exercise a lot without much recovery time between workouts. If you do several days in a row of intense workouts, you’ll probably experience something called over-training syndrome – your body’s way of telling you that you are burnt out,’ she said.
‘Anybody can over-train. Beginners, people who have been exercising for a while, and trained athletes all need to pay attention to their bodies and give themselves adequate rest.’
According to Rachael, the positive side effects of working out only work up to a certain point. After you reach that threshold, extra exercise can actually do you harm and hurt your progress
Consequences of over-training can include a weakened immune system, osteoporosis and loss of bone mass, heart damage, poor performance, fatigue and trouble sleeping and irritability.
According to nutritionist Liza Brunell, the effects of overtraining can also cause something known as HPA Axis Dysfunction.
‘Basically, this means that all of life’s stresses compound and cause a major miscommunication between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, leaving your body to respond with all kinds of negative physical symptoms.’
What are the signs you are under-eating or over-training?
– Hair loss
– Always feeling cold
– Pregnancy issues
– Frequent soreness and injuries
– Changes in sleep
– Reduced appetite
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU UNDER-EAT?
‘In a quest to be healthy or lose weight, many women cut back on calories,’ Rachael said.
It can be easy to take this too far and if you do, it brings about serious problems like nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal problems, weakened immunity, anemia, chronic fatigue and irritability.
‘Under-eating can lower your metabolism. In fact, low-calorie diets can decrease the number of calories your body burns by almost 25 per cent. The impact on your metabolism can last even after you stop the low-calorie diet,’ Rachael said.
‘Unfortunately, over-training and under-eating often go hand-in-hand. Each one is harmful on its own, but together they are even worse,’ Rachael said.
It can be easy to take cutting calories too far and if you do, it brings about serious problems like nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal problems, weakened immunity, anemia, chronic fatigue and irritability
HOW DO YOU PREVENT AND RECOVER FROM OVER-TRAINING AND UNDER-EATING?
According to Rachael, if you think you’re at risk for overtraining, make sure you schedule regular rest days especially after intense workouts.
It can take your muscles one to two days to recover after exercise, especially if you’re doing resistance or strength training.
You can also take breaks throughout your workout to reduce the intensity of the routine and do yoga on rest days.
If you are working out often, it’s important to increase your calories without increasing your sugar or processed food intake.
Eat meals and snacks that are high in protein, enjoy complex carbs like brown rice, add in healthy fats like avocados and nuts and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
‘The bottom line is that your body needs time to rest and time to repair after any workout, listen to your body, ensure that you are giving your body the love that it needs and deserves by reducing stress, meditating, and feeding it nutrients,’ Liza said.
‘Get regular massages and enable your body to heal. You don’t need to constantly be “pushing” to achieve your desired results, tuning in to what your body is saying to you will prevent you from slipping into the dangerous world of overtraining, and remember the old adage that less is more.’
You can use this calculator to see what the recommended base line of calorie intake for your gender, age and lifestyle.
If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 334 673 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org