Advice for athletes eating healthy but not seeing results

Posted on July 23, 2021 by

There is nothing more frustrating than committing to a plan for change with drive and determination and then feeling like you’re not getting anywhere.

If you have changed your eating habits and food choices for more vitality, better energy, weight loss or muscle gain and you’re not seeing results, don’t immediately think you aren’t good enough or put yourself down.

Everybody responds differently to food and training and comparing yourself to the results other people have achieved is a quick way to feeling disheartened and confused.

Below are some other areas you might need to explore in assessing your progress and it doesn’t just mean training harder or eating less.


1. Reassess your goal

It may be that you’ve set yourself a big goal to achieve and that simply won’t happen straight away. You might use this goal to guide your motivation but track progress with smaller goals along the way. For example, you won’t lose 20kg overnight but if you set the goal to say, not go back for seconds at dinner for a week, then you can see that you have done that to stay on track and have a more positive experience and sense of achievement.


2. You are not mentally ready

We can eat our emotions and negativity around what we put in our body or how we look, feel and view ourselves can all play a role in the body’s ability to let go. If you’re looking at what you eat through a lens of negativity and not enjoying the lifestyle and your journey it’s unlikely you will reach a positive outcome. If you’re focusing on a goal for the wrong reason and using it as a quick fix or distraction from real issues then it may be that it’s harder to get your behaviours to align with your purpose.


3. You are eating more than you think

Particularly if your goal is weight loss. A lot of health foods are great for the nutrient density they contain but some health foods, and those touted as ‘health foods’, like raw snacks and coconut yoghurt may seem like they can do no wrong but they are very energy dense. While they may not be detrimental to overall health, they have a high energy density and if you have a low energy budget it might be maxing out. Similarly, things like juices and smoothies can also be packed with nutrients and antioxidants but  can have the energy content of a small meal.


4. You are not eating enough

The body needs a certain amount of energy to function healthily. The impact of not eating enough could mean some body systems wont function effectively and may leave you feeling tired and lethargic or do longer term damage to your health due to low energy availability.

If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a tricky balance to be in a slight negative energy balance but not a large one consistently. Similarly if you are training to gain muscle mass you need to be eating enough protein and total energy to be in a positive energy balance to lay the foundation for more muscle mass.


5. Clinical inhibitors

Not all foods are healthy for all people. It may be that an intolerance to a food for some reason is causing additional inflammation in the body or the gut isn’t digesting food effectively. This will impact weight, mood, memory, focus and fatigue in some people. While body composition doesn’t cause a problem there are health issues that impact how good you feel.  You might have an imbalance of hormones or nutrient deficiencies that are making systems not work effectively to allow the best health outcomes. It may be worth getting a check-up with your doctor to explore your health and understand your body better to give it what it needs.


There is not one single marker of success. The benefit may be showing up in different ways in your health. You may not have lost weight but your cholesterol has gone down. You might not feel stronger, but your energy levels and focus is so much better during the day. Look for all the different signs of improvement and you will notice other benefits on the way to self-improvement and getting to where you need to be.


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