5 Signs You’re Under-fuelling

I feel like I can run all day long. A lot of that has to do with diet and being committed to it, and watching what I eat.”


1. Your sleep is disrupted

Under-fuelling can negatively impact your sleep by reducing the amount of time you spend in a deep sleep as well as how long you sleep for. You may also find it harder to fall asleep and wake up in night sweats. All up your poor quality sleep can can leave you feeling exhausted the following day.

2. You’re often injuried or sick

Every process in the body requires fuel to function. Our bodies need fuel for growth, digestion, breathing, circulation, and keeping your immune system healthy as well as for daily activities and exercise. If the fuel required to exercise grows too large in comparison to the fuel you eat in your diet, some of your body systems miss out on the fuel they need to keep us functioning at our best. Inadequate fuel can affect our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness and infections. Under-fuelling also impacts how well our body recovers from exercise. Training puts stress on the body and without adequate fuel we cannot recover properly, and overtime this lack of fuel makes us more prone to injury.

3. You find it hard to focus

Your mind also takes a hit when you’re under-fuelling. If you’re not eating enough, there is a good chance you will be finding it harder to concentrate. You may find it difficult to focus during meetings or stay on task when completing important projects. If this sounds like you, take a look to see whether the amount of food you are eating is enough to match the amount of energy you are using throughout the day.

4. You feel tired all the time

Food provides you with the energy your body and mind need to get through the day. Under-fuelling means you are running on empty. Fatigue can also be caused by poor nutrient intake, even if you are getting enough fuel in the way of kilojoules. Deficiencies in micronutrients such as iron, vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B12, and folate can lead to tiredness. B vitamins are our energy vitamins because they help unlock the energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat so that our cells can use it, while iron plays a critical role in transporting oxygen to cells, tissues and organs throughout your body. Inadequate iron means your blood carries less oxygen to your muscles and brain, making you feel lethargic and weak.

5. You can’t stop thinking about food

If food is constantly on your mind and you are constantly hungry there is a good chance you are under-fuelling your body. Research shows food cravings and appetite increase in response to severe kilojoule restriction. This is due to the fluctuations in the levels of hormones that control hunger and fullness.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it might be time to visit a accredited sports dietitian who can help you meet your energy and nutrient requirements.