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What Are the Effects of Undereating?

In most developed countries, including the U.S., the main goal of doctors, dieticians, and members of health- and wellness-focused media is often to rein in people’s eating habits and address the effects of overeating, such as obesity or cardiovascular disease. However, there is an often-underrepresented issue that affects many people in every country: undereating. Although it may not seem as serious or life-threatening as other health issues, a lack of proper nutrition can easily lead to any number of challenges, some of which could greatly impact a person’s quality of life. To help you recognize the signs of undereating in yourself or someone you know, the team at ENU – makers of weight maintenance shakes – has put together this piece to provide an answer to the question, “What are the effects of undereating?” Keep reading to learn more.

Common Effects of Undereating

If you’ve ever thought about undereating and its consequences, identifying the issue and coming up with solutions may seem easy, but the opposite is often true. Most people don’t know how to spot the effects of undereating, and even when they do (or think they do), addressing the problem may prove difficult in its own right. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effects associated with undereating.

Chronic Fatigue

We all know that food is what gives our bodies energy – in fact, calories are a measure of the energy content in food – but not everyone knows that fatigue is a common effect of undereating. If you take in too few calories on a consistent basis, your body may not be able to function properly, leading to difficulty concentrating, lower energy levels, and a general feeling of malaise.

Frequent Infections

When the body is invaded by a foreign organism – whether a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite – it needs energy to fight it off and a well-fueled immune system working as intended. For the former, calories are called for, while the latter requires enough of the nutrients that power the production of antibodies and other immune cells. Without those dietary elements, a person can get sick more frequently or for longer periods of time.

Feeling Cold

Another effect of undereating that comes down to a lack of energy from calories is feeling cold. Someone who doesn’t get enough food may find that their core body temperature takes a dip, causing them to be chilly when others feel quite comfortable.

Loss of Hair

Like other types of cells, the tissues that make up your hair require raw materials from food. If you don’t get enough because you’re undereating, you may find that the thickness, structure, or color of your hair could change, and probably not in a good way.

Skin Issues

Skin problems tend to show up in someone who undereats for the same reason that hair problems arise: the body just doesn’t have enough resources to make new, healthy cells for the skin.


Although it can be tough to draw a direct line between depression and undereating, this mental illness has been linked to poor nutrition. In particular, a lack of vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids has been connected to depression, so if you have been eating very little and struggling with low mood, talk to your doctor about this possible effect of undereating.

Reduced Sex Drive

When resources are scarce, the body tends to shift its focus away from bodily functions that aren’t essential to support life, such as reproduction. For this reason, one possible effect of undereating is a lack of sex drive or reduced fertility as the body deprioritizes those systems.

Failure to Thrive

It’s a cliché that growing children need to clear their plates, but it exists for a reason. Constantly undereating could cause failure to thrive, the technical term for when a child doesn’t grow the way they should because they are undernourished.


Though it may not seem as alarming as a lack of growth or loss of hair, constipation is one of the easiest effects of undereating to identify. Because the body doesn’t have enough food matter to turn into stools, a person who undereats may experience only one or two bowel movements in the span of a week.

How to Deal with the Effects of Undereating

Undereating can undoubtedly become a serious issue, but it’s one that requires time to take effect. If you or someone you know is undereating, know that it may be possible to avoid the aforementioned effects if you address the problem quickly.

The objective here should be to increase the person’s overall food intake each day, so any strategy that accomplishes this goal should be considered. Common solutions people use include the following:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals or healthy snacks every few hours
  • Focusing on nutrient-dense foods (those with lots of beneficial nutrients in a small volume, such as meal replacement shakes)
  • Reducing energy expenditure in consultation with a physician
  • Adding protein shakes for weight gain to their routine
  • Working with a dietician to come up with meal plans

Ultimately, whatever strategy fits best into your routine may be the ideal solution, even if it’s not what someone else might do. However, be sure to make any changes only after talking to your doctor, as they will have the best idea of how to help your particular situation.

Try an ENU Nutrition Shake or Powder for More Calories and Nutrients Each Day

Getting more food in your diet is all well and good, but it’s important that any addition include a wealth of healthful nutrients. That’s why ENU nutrition shakes and nutritional powders include a mix of protein, complex carbs, and other essential elements that make up a healthy diet. Learn more about how ENU can help with undereating by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.

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