Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

What happens if you exercise too much and eat too little?

As summer draws closer, thousands of women are overtraining and undereating in a desperate attempt to shape their dream beach body.

And while you may see physical changes in the short term, these habits can adversely affect your health and won’t contribute to your long-term fitness goals.

‘Some want to lose weight quickly or try to make extreme changes in their body composition. Others get carried away by fitness and don’t realize they’re overdoing it,” certified personal trainer Rachel Attard, from Sydney, said.

Whatever the reason, it can have serious consequences for your health and well-being, ranging from illness, injury, infertility, heart damage and long-term metabolic problems.

'Some want to lose weight quickly or try to make extreme changes in their body composition.  Others get carried away with fitness and don't realize they're overdoing it,

‘Some want to lose weight quickly or try to make extreme changes in their body composition. Others get carried away with fitness and don’t realize they’re overdoing it,” Sydney certified personal trainer Rachael Attard (pictured) said.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU EXTREME?

According to Rachael, the positive side effects of exercise only work to a certain extent. After you hit that threshold, extra exercise can actually hurt you and hurt your progress.

‘This usually happens when you exercise a lot without a lot of recovery time between workouts. If you do intense workouts for several days in a row, you will likely experience something that overtraining syndrome — the way your body tells you you’re burned out,” she said.

‘Anyone can overtrain. Beginners, who have been playing sports for a while and trained athletes should all pay attention to their bodies and allow themselves sufficient rest.’

According to Rachael, the positive side effects of exercise only work to a certain extent.  After you hit that threshold, extra exercise can actually hurt you and hurt your progress

According to Rachael, the positive side effects of exercise only work to a certain extent.  After you hit that threshold, extra exercise can actually hurt you and hurt your progress

According to Rachael, the positive side effects of exercise only work to a certain extent. After you hit that threshold, extra exercise can actually hurt you and hurt your progress

Consequences of overtraining can include a weakened immune system, osteoporosis and loss of bone mass, heart damage, poor performance, fatigue and difficulty 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 the stresses of life come together and cause a major miscommunication between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands, causing your body to react with all sorts of negative physical symptoms.”

What are the signs that you are eating too little or exercising too much?

Signs of undereating

– Fatigue

– Hair loss

– Constipation

– Always feeling cold

– Pregnancy Problems

Signs of overtraining

– Frequent pain and injuries

– Disease

– Changes in sleep

– Fatigue

– Decreased appetite

WHAT HAPPENS IF 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 will cause serious problems such as nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal issues, weakened immunity, anemia, chronic fatigue and irritability.

Eating too little can lower your metabolism. In fact, low-calorie diets can reduce the number of calories your body burns by nearly 25 percent. The impact on your metabolism can persist even after you stop the low-calorie diet,” says Rachael.

‘Unfortunately, overtraining and undereating often go hand in hand. Each is harmful on its own, but together they are even worse,” Rachael said.

It can be easy to go too far in reducing calories and doing so will cause serious problems such as nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal issues, weakened immunity, anemia, chronic fatigue and irritability

It can be easy to go too far in reducing calories and doing so will cause serious problems such as nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal issues, weakened immunity, anemia, chronic fatigue and irritability

It can be easy to go too far in reducing calories and doing so will cause serious problems such as nutritional deficiencies, infertility, hormonal issues, 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 to 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 during your workout to reduce the intensity of the routine and do yoga on rest days.

If you exercise frequently, it’s important to increase your calories without increasing your intake of sugar or processed foods.

Eat protein-rich meals and snacks, enjoy complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, add healthy fats such as avocados and nuts, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The bottom line is that your body needs time to rest and time to recover after every workout, listening to your body, making sure you give your body the love it needs and deserves by reducing stress, meditate and give it nutrients,” Liza said.

‘Get regular massages and let your body heal. You don’t have to constantly “push” to get the results you want, tuning in to what your body is telling you will prevent you from entering the dangerous world of overtraining, and remember the old adage that less is more.”

You can use this calculator to see the recommended baseline calorie intake for your gender, age, and lifestyle.

If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image problem, call the Butterfly National Helpline at 1800 334 673 or email support@butterfly.org.au

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