Forum: Advice / Health & Nutrition

intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By RulerOfTheArts
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 06:37 AM

Just a little background info: Started working out exactly a year ago with ballet added in (danced years before that but stopped for a bit due to illness)...some months ago I started varying it with elliptical, swimming laps, and treadmill running miles as well as weight training to help my ballet..everyday except Sundays. two months ago I worked at level 13 on the elliptical, half hour, going 100% percent; long strides and full arms. Last week however I decided to increase my cardiovascular endurance and in addition to level 13 on the elliptical 100% strides, I added lap swimming afterwards Monday through thursday. I was so tired on Saturday I took two days off. Yesterday I started again but I am feeling like my body is tired for the last couple of months. I would think I would be used to all of this, but my body says otherwise.

I don't know if this is important but I am 28 years old, very skinny with very low body fat and technically underweight but I eat whenever I am hungry and do not deny myself anything. My periods are very irregular but the doctor said it is because my body is trying to get used to the new low weight of mine (I've been slim most of my life but for the last 5 months this is the thinnest I have been since my anorexia years ago). It has leveled off though and I haven't lost any more for a while now.

Based on my weight I don't need many calories each day and no matter how hard I try with the exercising I don't burn many calories so I really don't need a ton of food everyday, right? I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full and my diet is rich in fish, meat, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Do you guys think seeing a nutritionist would help? I have been told that my fatigue is due to not getting enough nutrition.

Any advice on how to cope with the intensity of my workouts?

16 Replies to intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired

re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By saaammiemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 06:59 AM
I really think it sounds like you probably need to eat more. Seeing a nutritionist like you mentioned is probably a really good idea.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 07:00 AM
It probably couldn't hurt to go to a nutritionist, because my immediate thought was that you're not eating enough to fuel that much working out.

Which, baring that you don't have some sort of heart condition or anything, not eating enough to fuel your workouts is the most logical solution.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired (karma: 1)
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 09:30 AM
Have you calculated your TDEE to find out what your calorie needs are? Since you are underweight, and you are burning probably hundreds of calories at day, I would calculate your TDEE and add however many calories you estimate you are burning on top if that so you are at a slight surplus of calories to what you burn in a day (both naturally and through exercise).

Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. Many people who are thin are used to not eating very much or have a skewed idea of what a lot of food is so they have to force themselves to eat a bit more or more frequently. Do you also track how many calories you eat? You need to know how many you are getting. How is your macronutrient breakdown in your diet? Are you getting enough fat and protein?

Also, why all the steady state cardio? What are your fitness goals? Eating at a deficit and doing so much cardio means your body will be losing muscle mass along with fat whenever you lose weight. As an athlete, I'm sure you don't want that. If you ate at a caloric surplus for a while, lowered the steady state cardio, and did more weight training (heavy weight training!) you would gain muscle mass and a bit of weight.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By RulerOfTheArts
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:04 AM
Many thanks to the 3 of you. Coccinella, I used the formula I found online to calculate how many calories I need to be eating. I think it came out to 1600 or something for high intensity workouts...which really isn't very much. The thing is, I don't want to gain weight because I kind of like the lean look for ballet. And since I am not burning that many calories exercising I feel like I don't have to eat a ton to replenish myself..you know?
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By buckeye2
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:15 AM
Why don't you think you are burning many calories from your workouts?

You should be with the intensity that you are at.

How long are you working out?

It may be a good idea to try a heart rate monitor or something that can be programed specifically to your body to find out just how many calories you are burning.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired (karma: 1)
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:33 AM
There has to be some sort of balance between a lean look that leaves you feeling fatigued and without a menstrual period and a lean look that gives you energy and means you are healthy and strong. Eating at maintenance won't mean that you all of a sudden gain 10 pounds of fat, it means you'll have the energy to be a strong athlete and that your body can actually do what it needs to do to build muscle from your strength training.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By imadanseurPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:59 AM
Totally agree with Coccinella. If you are tired that means you are not eating the right things for energy, or not eating enough. Chances are if you have very low body fat, you are burning a lot more calories just sitting around than the normal person. Add some exercise into that formula and you need more than 1600. Seriously, bump up to 1800 (if you were my fitness client I would probably suggested 2000) and see if that makes a difference. That isn't going to make you gain a ton of weight.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:19 PM
^Completely agree with all the above. The only thing I have to add is another potential side effect, injury. Being tired and under-fed and working out the way you do could lead to bad form and/or weakness, which can in turn lead to injury.

I would say, see a nutritionist, because I think you may have a bit of a skewed view of how many calories you're burning and how many calories you need to stay consistent and healthy.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By RulerOfTheArts
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 05:08 PM
Edited by RulerOfTheArts (152924) on 2013-04-16 17:11:57 to address coccinella's question
Thanks to all of you. This might be triggering:


















Buckeye, I I know I am not burning much because the elliptical says 300 calories after 30 minutes strenuously working out. I work out probably a little over an hour when I add swimming into it. Today I did 40 minutes of the elliptical because I couldn't get to the pool and did another 100 calories there. If I were to back off the intensity I would only burn 200 calories on it..which is hardly anything. Running I burn even less.

The heart rate monitor sounds cool!! I should try that. Today I got in 1700 calories and I eat pretty much the same way every day so that is probably what my daily caloric intake is.

Coccinella, I tend to get winded quickly and have shortness of breath so I am trying to increase my cardiovascular endurance.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 07:04 PM
Are you sure your calculations are correct? 1600 seems quite low for the amount of activity you are describing, combined with your slim physique, I would have expected closer to 2000. Just as a basic starting point, women aged 18-35 weighing 110 pounds should consume ~1800 calories. Then you need to add anywhere from 240-860 calories based on your level of activity. (of course there are better ways of doing calculations, but I would only be able to guess on your height/weight).

Eating more than you are now does not necessarily mean you will gain weight, same with cutting down a bit on exercise! Have you ever had someone go over your nutrition and workout regimen with you? Those calorie trackers on fitness equipment are rudimentary guides at the best, they can't know exactly how many calories you are burning. While it can be a useful tool to count calories and watch the numbers, it can also be detrimental. You need to pay more attention to what your body is telling you even if the numbers "don't make sense" so you don't overdo it. Remaining lean doesn't have to be at the cost of being tired and fatigued all the time. Try keeping a very detailed log of what you eat and when you exercise for a week and take it to a nutritionist. Your body sounds like it is craving more energy.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By imadanseurPremium member
On Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:50 PM
Actually those calorie monitors aren't the best thing to go by always. They can't factor in your body fat which is going to change how many calories you are burning. You being 110 pounds on a cardio machine with only 15% body fat (or less) will not burn the same amount of calories as someone who is 110 pounds and 25% body fat AND more importantly how many calories you'll be burning after your workout because you have a higher percentage of muscle will be greatly different.

It could be that you aren't eating enough protein, you have too much sugar, not enough healthy fats etc. A nutritionist would definitely help sort it out for you.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By webstArmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:45 AM
Are you getting enough fat and protein?


It could be that you aren't eating enough protein, you have too much sugar, not enough healthy fats etc.


Based on the intensity that you're working at, by best guess is that it's actually carbohydrates that you're not getting enough of. They get a bad rap in the fitness and weight-loss industry, but athletes working at a high intensity NEED to be consuming carbs. They're the most common substrate utilized for energy in the body, and if you're not eating enough carbs at meals, you're not replenishing your glycogen. That feeling of constant fatigue is likely due to not enough glycogen in your body. Also, there's NO way that 1600 calories a day is enough.

Also, what are your workout goals? Right now, there seems to be SUCH a heavy focus on the calories that your burning (which are highly inaccurate on those machines) without any legitimate rationale. You're underweight, not getting your period, and tired all of the time. For what? Just something to consider..
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:56 AM
If you are doing all that steady stage cardio with the hopes of increasing your endurance for dance, you probably aren't going to see the results you want. Dance is, for the most part, an anaerobic activity in that it is very much an activity that is constant start-stop-start at high intensity during the "work" time. You'd be better served to train in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) but doing Tabata sprints or other interval based exercises.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:12 PM
If you are undernourished you may not not see or feel cardio improvement. You might not be out of breath because you need to train more, you may be out of breath because you need to EAT more. It's not as complicated as you are making this out to be.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By SwordInStone
On Wed Apr 17, 2013 05:58 PM
Cardio raises your metabolism for awhile even after your workout is over. Even if the elliptical says 300 calories burned, you're going to be burning more than before workout afterwards.

Adding some carbohydrates is a good idea, but some more calories probably won't make you gain weight. At least try it for a week or two. If you gain weight you can always stop and look for another solution.
re: intense workout schedule is leaving me feeling tired
By RulerOfTheArts
On Thu Apr 18, 2013 06:09 AM
Thanks to each and every one of you for responding..you guys are the best. I am going to add more calories and see a nutritionist.

I have been ill for the last two days, and this particular cold has been making me ravenous, lol..so i probably have been closer to 2000 yesterday and today, though I wasn't even counting.

Thanks again. =)

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