Overtraining vs. Undereating



Alex Hutchinson wrote an interesting article about overtraining and undereating in the Globe and Mail. The main point is that when athletes are overdoing it in their training, their appetites can lag behind their calorie needs, so they are unintentionally overeating. This could be made worse for someone who is trying to exercise to lose weight so is also intentionally restricting calories. I had touched upon overtraining previously, but did not know about this connection with overeating. You may need to subscribe to the Globe and Mail to read the article, so here’s his summary:

“Also, for the Globe and Mail, I wrote about an interesting study from an international team led by Trent Stellingwerff of the Canadian Sport Institute, on the overlap between overtraining and undereating. Overtraining syndrome has long baffled scientists, because there isn’t any single reliable way to diagnose it other than by excluding other possible causes of a prolonged dip in performance. One exclusion that scientists sometimes miss is unintentional caloric deficit, since appetite cues don’t necessarily give you an accurate sense of much you need to eat during heavy training. In fact, Stellingwerff and his colleagues found that the subjects in 18 of 21 previous overreaching/overtraining studies weren’t eating enough to fuel their increased training load. This doesn’t mean that overtraining itself isn’t a real phenomenon, but if you’re worried about it, you should first ensure that you’re eating enough.” He is referring to this study. (If you enjoy this type of information from Alex, you can subscribe to his newsletter for free here).

Overtraining vs. Undereating 1
Conventional wisdom about overtraining (https://www.myithlete.com/what-is-hrv/avoid-overtraining/prevent-overtraining/). Note there’s no mention of checking the athlete’s diet, so I’m not sure how well known this connection is.

My main symptom of overtraining is that when I increase the amount of training I do, it feels great, up to a point. After that, I start feeling crumby after workouts or don’t recover as fast. And I get grumpy. Since one of the main points of exercise for me is having fun, it’s then time to cut back. But next time I might also see if perhaps I’m not eating enough…