3 Signs You’re Eating Too Little

At B3 Gym, we partner with Healthy Steps Nutrition, and we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated. There’s so much information out there, it can be really overwhelming to figure out what’s right for you. Our goal is to empower you to make better choices and build better habits around your nutrition. We want to help you build a strong foundation with your nutrition so that you can meet your short- and long-term goals and feel and look the way you deserve.


A new client of mine shared with me their frustrating experience with weight loss. They had been battling their weight since their early twenties and they had tried all different kinds of diets including fad diets, restrictive eating, counting calories, shakes, and anything else you can think of. Over the years their weight bounced up and down but overall, they saw insignificant weight loss results. They admitted that they hadn’t been feeling great recently. They’ve been eating less and doing everything they’d been told to do to lose weight, but they’re still not seeing results.


This frustration people experience on their weight loss journey happens all the time. Diet culture tells us to eat less to lose weight, often recommending diet plans for less than 1,000 calories per day! So today I want to walk you through a few signs that you might not be eating enough AND share with you the reason why eating less is not always the best path.


I’d like to start off by explaining a few basic concepts when it comes to our metabolism to help you understand why so many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off when eating less.


We’ve all heard the saying, “calories in calories out.” This is a general rule that if we take in more calories than we expend, we will gain weight. The opposite is also true in that, if we take in less calories than we expend, we will lose weight. So, if this rule is true then why did my client struggle to see results when they were counting calories and eating less? It’s a little more complicated than just that simple equation, so let’s talk about some of the other factors that influence that.


Let’s start with some of the factors that may alter your calories in. First is your appetite. As obvious as it may seem, your appetite is affected by hormones. Ghrelin, which is our hunger hormone, is released in the stomach to tell us when we’re hungry. When we drastically decrease our calorie intake, it affects our body’s hormones. Ghrelin will increase which makes us feel hungry all the time! Think about the last time you were feeling really hungry. How hard was it to stick to healthy eating and stay away from fast food or treats?


While hormones play a big role in influencing our intake, there are many other factors to consider, including your environment. Studies show that people consume more when eating with friends and family than when alone. In addition, palatability, reward of the foods we are eating, as well as our mindset can influence our intake.


Next, let’s go over a few factors that may influence your energy output. First, you have your BMR or basal metabolic rate. This is the estimated number of calories your body burns at rest to continue the basic needs of living. If you were to just lay around all day, this would be the calories burned to keep your body functioning. We also need to consider your daily activity, such as grocery shopping, chasing your kids, or vacuuming the house, as well as intentional physical activity, like running or doing a workout. Lastly, we also need to consider the thermic effect of food or how much energy our body needs to break down or metabolize the foods we consume.


So now we know why the calories in calories out statement isn’t as simple as it sounds. Let’s go over the 3 signs that you’re under eating and then we’ll talk about why it might not be helping you reach your goals.


Sign #1: you’re constantly hungry.

You start eating less and now all you can think about is the next time you’ll get to eat again. This circles us back to those hormones we briefly discussed. When you eat less, your body signals for an increased release of ghrelin, which makes you feel super hungry. When we feel hungrier, it can lead to increased portion sizes, more frequent snacking, and over-consuming sweets when we finally give into those cravings.

We should be eating an amount where we are feeling satisfied, not too full but also not hungry. While a decrease in calories may initially sound like you’ll always be feeling hungry, choosing more whole food options (which provide more volume in your meals) and balancing your meals and snacks is a great way to combat that. When you eat more nutrient dense foods, like veggies, you can actually eat a ton of food for not a ton of calories.


Sign #2: you’re moody. You know what comes with being hungry all the time: that hangry feeling.

Hangry is defined as “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.” So, you started to eat significantly less food, your body starts protesting by increasing the production of ghrelin, and now you may or may not be starting unnecessary fights with friends and family or you may feel a bit more irritable in general. This mood shift is a classic sign that you aren’t eating the right amount to reach your goals.


Sign #3: sleep and stress issues.

Let’s start with sleep! You’ve likely heard a lot about how sleep deprivation has been found to lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, but did you know that under-eating while following strict dietary patterns can also interrupt your quality of sleep? One small study followed 10 young women dieting for 4 weeks. They found these participants had difficulty falling asleep and less overall deep sleep. Another study found that the starvation-level calorie restriction led to a reduction in slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep. This can also alter our stress levels. A large study of more than 2500 Australian teens found that “extreme dieting” was not only associated with decreased sleep quality but also high levels of depression and anxiety which will affect another important hormone in our health and wellness journey.

Let’s talk about cortisol. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” because it’s released in response to stress. Most of us have heard a lot about cortisol when it comes to inhibiting weight loss goals. If you’re constantly limiting your intake which leads to increased stress and lack of sleep, your body’s cortisol is likely elevated. Elevated cortisol levels will not only alter our metabolism, but it will also cause water retention which may mask any fat loss occurring.


If you’re experiencing mood shifts, constant feelings of hunger, or sleep and stress issues, you might be eating too little. Now let’s talk about why eating less to lose weight isn’t always the answer.


What happens when we under eat, and your body doesn’t get the energy it needs? Initially the body will use fat stores for energy and that’s how people begin to lose weight. But over time, the body will adjust to this chronic calorie deficit and metabolism will slow. The body isn’t burning energy as efficiently. Weight loss eventually stops because the metabolism has slowed down. Then it becomes extremely hard to maintain your weight eating anything more than the set number of calories your body has adjusted to. Additionally, it also becomes very, very difficult to lose weight – despite hard efforts at “eating clean” and exercising regularly.


After hearing this you may feel like losing weight is a hopeless cause, but that is far from the truth! I encourage you to try thinking about it this way: rather than focusing on the result of weight loss, focus on the journey of building healthy habits with your nutrition. Rather than focusing on eating less calories, focus on eating more whole food options that provide less calories than processed foods. Yes, processed foods are more convenient but those whole foods provide way more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and volume! If you think about a day of eating fast food, one meal can be upwards of 1000 or more calories! If you stick with more whole foods, you could eat multiple meals and snacks for that amount. Who doesn’t want to eat more food?!


Rather than getting sucked into fad diets and the seemingly endless cycle of under-eating, find a professional who can help you build a plan and keep you accountable for reaching your goals!


Are you looking to break the cycle of eating too little and start building healthy habits for reaching your goals? Here are some simple tips that can help: eat ½ a plate of non-starchy veggies at lunch and dinner, drink at least 60 oz of water each day, get 7 or more hours of sleep every night, and schedule a free intro to chat with me about your health and wellness goals, and learn how we can build a customized plan for you!


Stay Healthy!

Nutrition Talk: Rethink Your Drink!

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major contributor to weight gain. Check out this video to learn how to identify sugary drinks (even with tricky labeling), how to increase your water intake, how alcohol can affect your fitness, and how to stay mindful while partaking in alcoholic beverages.


Nutrition Talk: Increasing Your Veggies!

Vegetables are SO important in our nutrition and provide us with tons of essential nutrients, but it can be difficult to hit the recommended daily amount.
In this month’s free virtual nutrition talk, we’ll share 5 tips for increasing your veggie intake, even for the pickiest of eaters!

Making Friends as an Adult

Think about how easy it was to make friends when we were younger. When we were in school, we had friends in our classes or on sports teams. They were readily available to us. For the most part, we were all progressing through similar stages in our lives as we went through school and college and transitioned into our careers. As we got older though, we moved into different stages of life at different times. Some people got married and now have kids. Some stayed single. Some went back to school or changed careers. Unlike when we were young, the older we get, the harder it can be to make friends.


By the time we’re in our 30’s and 40’s, we are pretty set in our ways. We spend most of our time at our jobs or with our families or partners. If you’re married and have kids, your partner and your kids have become your priority, which can make it even more difficult to make friends or keep close relationships with the ones you do have. You have less opportunities to make friends and much less time to spend with them.


Since we spend most of our day at work, we think this can be an easy place to make friends, but the truth is that can also be complicated. Let’s say you get close with a co-worker and you share too much of your personal life with them. Then you have a falling out and that can create a pretty awkward environment for all parties involved and could potentially have an effect on your work performance. While it’s good to have friends at work, we tend to keep these friendships more surface level to avoid any potential drama.


We might have friends from our past, from high school or college, people we met from past jobs or social groups, or friends we made while dating an ex. They are friends, but not people that you interact with every single day. They’re not people you have a deep and meaningful relationship with. So, we count them as friends, but would they be someone you would call if you really needed help? As our lives have changed over time, maybe these relationships have drifted, and these people are no longer considered close friends anymore.


Take a moment to think about your close friends. Not the peripheral friends I just mentioned, but your close friends. The ones you have a real connection to. The ones you can call in the middle of the night for help. The ones who support your story and your goals. Do you still have friends like this in your life? If so, where did you meet them? If not, why not?


Making friends as an adult doesn’t have to be hard.


The first thing you can do is set an intention to make friends. Friends aren’t just going to find you. You need to put the energy out into the universe and make an effort.


Pick a hobby or an interest that you wish you had more time for. Fitness is an easy one. Not only are you prioritizing your health by being physically active, but if you join a fitness community, you automatically have a built-in social network as well. The next step is to make sure you’re engaging with people in that community. Talk to people. Introduce yourself.


I get it. It can be so scary to put yourself out there. It feels unnatural to approach strangers as an adult looking for new friends. It can almost feel forced or fake or like we’re trying too hard. We also run the risk of being rejected in these interactions. If you don’t take that risk though, you’ll never be able to find and develop those real friendships.


Put down your phone and engage with your surroundings. This seems so obvious but think about it. How often do you go to a coffee shop or walk your dog and you’re glued to your phone? You need to engage with people in person! Put your phone away. Make eye contact. Smile at someone. Say hello. Engage with the people around you.


Don’t say no to anything social. Get out there! You’re not going to make friends sitting at home watching Netflix on the couch. When someone asks you to do something social, do it, even if it’s not something you would normally say yes to. Be open to new experiences and enjoy being present in the moment. You can also take the initiative to plan something social with people you know. Ask them to bring friends so you can make new connections.


It can also be helpful to take an inventory of your friends every now and then. Do your friends have your best interests in mind? Are they supporting you and giving you the space to grow? Are any of your friendships one-sided? Maybe you have a friend who is draining your energy and is always focused on the negative. If they’re not willing and able to change, maybe invest less time and energy in this friendship and invest more time in others.


Meaningful friendships where you can truly connect with another person and feel supported are so important to your happiness and success. Take some time to think about your current friendships. If they aren’t meeting your needs, use some of the strategies we talked about today to expand your social network and create better friendships.


Set an intention to make friends. Pick a hobby or activity that you’re interested in and engage in that community. Get off your phone and engage in your surroundings. Don’t say no to anything social. Foster positive relationships and invest less time in those friendships that are draining you.


Looking for a fitness community to join? Come check us out!

Breaking Bad Habits

Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? If you have, you know exactly how hard it can be. Life would be so much easier if we could just stop our bad habits, but unfortunately just stopping is way easier said than done and it doesn’t lead to a sustainable behavioral change.


The science of habit formation and behavioral change has come a long way. We have a much better idea of how our brains work and we can use this information to help us overcome our bad habits.


Take a moment to think about ALL of those little things you do on a daily basis with very little conscious thought or effort. When your alarm goes off in the morning, you roll over and turn it off, check your phone notifications, make your bed, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed, cook and eat breakfast, make your lunch, grab your keys, drive to work, and buy a coffee all before 8a. These activities become habits. We do them every day over and over until they become ingrained in our routine and we don’t even need to think about them. If we had to consciously think about every single action, we would be completely exhausted. These daily habits help us conserve our energy for more challenging tasks.


Unfortunately, the brain doesn’t differentiate between good and bad habits. All of our habits (both good and bad) are ingrained in our brain, ready to go on cue. When we think about our habits, we can think about them as 3 components: a trigger, a behavior, and a reward. Let’s say we have a habit of checking our phone first thing when we wake up. The trigger is waking up (most often to your alarm). The behavior is checking your phone. The reward is the good feeling we get when your notifications light up. For all of our habits, there will always be a trigger that prompts us to perform the behavior and then some sort of payoff or reward at the end.


The more we repeat this process of responding to a trigger, performing a behavior, and receiving a reward, the more we will continue with that habit. When you’re trying to break a bad habit, you have to remember that you’ve spent weeks, months, or years with this behavior that has become embedded in your programming.


In order to break a bad habit, we need to disrupt the loop! The first step is to become aware of the behavior and more importantly what is triggering that behavior. When you notice your bad habit, stop and ask yourself what triggered you to do it.


The next step is to make a choice to change. You have to take responsibility for your actions. In this step, it can be really helpful to reflect on WHY you want to break this habit. Think about the benefits if you do change your habit and the consequences if you don’t.


The next step is to make sure you’re not being exposed to the trigger. If your bad habit is eating cookies while watching TV at night, you can remove the chocolate from your house or you can do another activity at night other than watching TV. You won’t always be able to completely eliminate the trigger, but there are ways that you can reduce your exposure.


The next step is to replace the behavior. We are wired to do things that make us feel good. If our bad habit is resulting in a reward that brings good feelings, it can really override our willpower to change when we’re exposed to the trigger. In this case, we can try replacing the behavior with something else that will provide us with a similar reward.


You also want to get support. Having a network to support and hold you accountable can definitely help keep you on track. Tell a friend about your habit. Surround yourself with people who participate in the behaviors you want in your life.


Make sure to monitor and track your behaviors. Keeping a log of the days you complete your new habit can provide a visual reinforcement that you’re putting in the work. We use a habit tracker in our nutrition challenges. It’s a great daily reminder to stay on track and help you build the healthy habit into your lifestyle.


We’ve all heard the saying “old habits die hard.” While it can take time to break old habits, it can also take time to create new ones. Practice your new habit consistently until it becomes part of your everyday life. We’re looking for sustainable changes, behaviors that can free up your energy to feel good and live your life without the consequences of bad habits.


If you need help breaking bad habits and building healthy habits into your lifestyle, please reach out! I’d be happy to help work through these steps with you.


Stay Healthy!

-Coach Karen

Nutrition Talk: Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prepping

Have you ever finished up a long day at work and the LAST thing you want to do is figure out what to cook for dinner?
Have you ever gotten home to realize that you forgot to defrost the meat you were planning to cook?
If you can relate, this nutrition talk is for you!
Meal prepping for success is a MUST to reach your health and wellness goals, but it can be tough to figure out how to get started.
In this month’s free virtual nutrition talk, Coach Karen will share 5 easy steps to start meal prepping like a pro!

Nutrition Talk: Fueling for Performance

Have you ever started a workout and realized that you didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish? Or you were in the middle of the workout and felt light-headed? Odds are that your nutrition played a role with that!
In this virtual nutrition talk, Coach Karen shares some simple tips to help you fuel your body for optimal performance, including some strategies for eating around your workouts.
Thank you to Vale Food Co. for sponsoring this talk. Vale is a Florida-based health food restaurant founded to provide convenient, quality, and nutritious food options.

Are you eating enough?

“I’m always hungry, but I’m not losing weight.”

“I eat healthy, I don’t understand why I’m not seeing results.”

“I’m so hungry at the end of the day, I can’t help but reach for those nighttime snacks.”


Have you heard the saying “calories in vs. calories out?” When we think of this in terms of weight loss, we think that by eating less than we’re burning, we’ll lose weight. And while this may be true for some, there’s much more that goes into this equation than just that.


We have what we call a resting metabolic rate. This is the calories required to keep you alive (your basic body functions) combined with the calories needed to support your daily non-training activities. If we are a bit more active, like we take the stairs at work or we take our dog for a long walk, that number will go up a little. Combine that with your intentional exercise calories and that is considered to be your ‘calories out’ part of the equation. If we’re looking to drop some body fat, we’ll have our ‘calories in’ be slightly lower than this number.

What typically happens though is that we see this equation and we think, ok, well I want to lose weight faster, so I’ll just create an even bigger calorie deficit. You end up eating WAY less and guess what? You don’t see any results.


So, what happened? Your body is very smart. It knows when it is not getting enough calories in to support its basic functions, so it slows down your metabolic rate to compensate. So instead of your resting metabolic rate being somewhere around 1200 calories, your body has adjusted its resting metabolic rate to somewhere around 900 calories.

Now you’re burning less calories overall AND to top it off you’re also hungry. You’re dealing with sleep and hormone issues and you’re not seeing results which can lead to some serious frustration.

Your body wants to stay in a safe space to support fat loss, and if it feels out of balance, it will adjust your metabolism to do so. So, while we do want a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, your calorie deficit needs to be appropriate to support metabolism and promote fat burning. We need to eat enough but not too much.

While calories in versus calories out is a basic principle in changing your body composition, it’s not as simple as it appears. The goal is to decrease your calories just ENOUGH to burn fat without causing changes in your metabolism.


When I start working with a nutrition client, one of the first things we do is get a baseline for their current nutrition habits. We walk through what a typical day looks like for food: how much they’re eating, what times they’re eating, and what food and liquids they’re consuming. Nine times out of ten, people are just not eating enough. It seems counterintuitive to us to eat MORE food to lose weight, but if you work with your body and fuel it properly, you can start to lose weight without having to be hungry and miserable. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather feel full and satisfied than hungry all the time.

Keep in mind that when you start to add in more food than you were used to eating, your body will need some time to adjust before seeing changes. It can be a few days or weeks to start seeing that fat loss. You’re also going to be eating more food and you’ll probably be feeling full for a while as your body is adjusting. If you’re someone who has been eating a lot of processed foods, which are not really nutrient dense, adjusting to more whole foods, which can be more filling, will definitely take some time.


If you’re guilty of eating less to lose weight and you’re tired of being hungry all the time and still not seeing the results you want, please reach out. At B3 Gym, we work with Registered Dietitians through Healthy Steps Nutrition to make sure you’re getting the right amount of food to get your metabolism in a safe space to help you burn fat.


Stay healthy,

Coach Karen

Nutrition Talk: Is Your Diet Failing You?

Missed our February Free Virtual Nutrition Talk? Check out the recording!

Are you sticking with the nutrition changes you committed to at the beginning of the year?!
If not, you’re not alone. Every year millions of people start their weight loss journey which inevitably ends with frustration at the lack of progress OR losing weight fast just to gain it right back!
In this free virtual nutrition talk, Coach Karen covers the top 3 reasons your diet failed you and share some tips on how you can take control of your health and see lasting results!


Don’t miss our next nutrition talk on March 6th at 11a on Fueling for Performance. Registered attendees will be entered into a drawing for a $20 gift card to Vale Food Co.!

Starting an Exercise Routine


Exercise has many benefits including stress relief, decreased fat storage, and improved mood. But let’s face it, if you aren’t already in an exercise routine, it can be really hard to start one. The reality is that a good workout isn’t easy and that can deter you from sticking with it!

The first thing you need to remember is WHY you want to exercise in the first place. We don’t mean the surface level version where you just want to look better. We are talking about that deep down reason you probably don’t want to share with too many people. This WHY is what will help you get on track and stay there.

The next thing you need to decide is what type of exercise you want to do. It should be something you enjoy.

So you know your WHY, you know your WHAT, now let’s talk about the 4 things you NEED to start an exercise routine.

#1 An Awesome Playlist

Believe it or not, music has a ton of benefits when working out. It can keep you motivated, improve your performance, provide a fun distraction and much more. This can be a great way to keep you on track and excited about working out. Take some time to create a playlist of songs that make you want to get up and dance. It really helps.

#2 A Positive Mindset

Ever heard the saying “fake it until you make it?” For some, that may be the approach for #2, and that’s okay! Having a positive mindset, including positive self-talk, is known to increase a person’s willingness to exercise.

Tell yourself things like:

  • “I am going to feel great when I finish this workout”

  • “I know this is hard, but I can do it!”

  • “I am so thankful my body is able and I am going to take advantage of that!”

#3 An Accountability Buddy

This is a biggie! There will be times that your WHY, the music, and your mindset just aren’t enough to make you get up and go exercise. We all experience that from time to time, but when starting an exercise routine it can occur a bit more often because it hasn’t become a habit yet.

So find that person that knows your WHY and is willing to put some pressure on you when you just don’t want to do it. Remember, you have to be willing to do the same for them!

#4 A Set Schedule

If you don’t make the time to exercise, then it most likely won’t happen. Sit down and take a good look at your schedule, then decide the optimal time to get in a good sweat.

For some, the optimal time is waking up a bit earlier to get it out of the way BEFORE life interrupts your plan. For others, maybe it looks like hitting up a gym on your way home so you don’t get sidetracked or discouraged from heading back out.

If you need help beginning an exercise routine, I can help! All you have to do is book a free intro to get started.

-Coach Karen