6 ways the body tells athletes if they’re eating enough

Posted on October 27, 2021 by

Most athletes judge the success of their diet as to whether it’s healthy or not healthy, and if they are doing all the things they ‘should’ do.

Perhaps you’re looking at your diet thinking you’re doing all the essentials:

  • Protein after training
  • Carbs before training and during the day and
  • Eating plenty of salad and vegetables

Doing as much as you know may not be enough to reach the performance gains that you think you should be getting by just following the essential rules.

How can you find the next step in using nutrition to advance your performance? By listening to the innate wisdom of your body and the daily signals it’s offering.

Being able to learn from the body to build and adapt your diet to suit your needs is the real game changer.

So rather than comparing your nutrition to the norms, compare it to how you feel and how you want to feel to keep your diet evolving.

Below are a few signs your body is alerting you to how your nutrition habits can support your training demands.

1. Appetite

You feel like you are being led to eat more than you might usually have at different times. If you start a meal and feel like you cant get full or want to keep going back for more, it may be the body is trying to build up energy stores for those times its being pushed without enough energy to burn. Or you simply don’t have an appetite at all.

2. Cravings

Especially sweet craving and sugar cravings, its the fastest way the body can get some carbohydrates back to fuel the body. This is generally around afternoon and after dinner time, especially common when there was a morning training session.

3. Energy levels

You feel like you have to drag yourself off the couch to do anything for the rest of the day. You may feel flat or empty and just struggling to get momentum. This can be due to a number of different factors and deficiencies in the diet but the first to address is total energy intake.

4. Weight fluctuations

Over a day or a week anything in excess of a 2kg fluctuation in weight up or down may mean you need to address your intake to support training demands or hydration requirements.

5. Mood changes

If you’re getting irritable, teary or have a low tolerance for situations that you might normally manage it may be exacerbated by what you’re eating.

6. Decrease in performance and struggling in training sessions

If you’re regularly finding you can’t reach peak outputs, or are dragging yourself through sessions you might normally be able to tolerate, you might not have enough energy stores and need more than you think is enough.


Any of these areas may require a modification to the total amount of food, ratios of macronutrients or timing of meals to be able to better fuel your body.

Discussing these with your dietitian will help them know how to adjust your nutrition to suit your need specifically for you.

In the next few weeks we’ll look further into some of the long term ways you can tell if you aren’t eating enough and the impact this could be having on your health and performance.

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