Low Appetite with High Volume Training
Written by Fritz Nugent

A member who attends my sessions regularly is training for a triathlon and has increased their weekly training from three 60-minute Muscle & Motor classes a week to – over the last month – adding in running and biking miles each week plus swimming practice as they work towards their triathlon goals. 

I asked them yesterday how their nutrition and training are going. They said they feel great and are becoming addicted to triathlon training already because of how hard it is. They then said that their appetite has decreased. They are barely hungry anymore and only eat one meal a day. 

Loss of Appetite After Increased Training

This drew up a large red flag for me. As a nutrition coach, I know that loss of appetite after an athlete increases training volume is a sign of overreaching or overtraining. Because this athlete is still in the early stages of training and feels good, I strongly believe that they are overreaching and are not overtrained, yet. They are on the way there, though, so I encouraged them to monitor some things.

Signs of Overtraining

Sleep 

When approaching overtraining, the body demands more sleep and fatigue begins to set in.

Appetite 

When appetite decreases, this is a sign of high stress.

Soreness

When soreness increases from “normal” training, this is a sign that the body is bogged down with recovering from many stressors and is becoming overloaded to the point of breaking. 

Desire to Train

When this decreases, it’s a sign that you psychologically are burning out.

Performance

When performance begins to slide during high volume training, this is a sure sign that the body does not currently have the ability to completely recover from the stress you are placing on yourself.

How to Prevent Overtraining Syndrome

We all want gains, fast. However, if we overshoot our body’s ability to recover from the stressors we incur, the long-term result is injury and burn-out, and you have to start over again to do it right or repeat the train-break-start-over process again!

While overtraining may seem scary, you don’t just feel great one day and then wake up the next overtrained. As stated above, overreaching comes before overtraining syndrome; it is a process. I think it’s also important to note that although training is the major contributor to overtraining syndrome, occupational, educational, and social stressors are accumulative and play a significant role.

The general definition of overtraining is a syndrome occurring in athletes who train too frequently/in excess OR who may not allow for adequate recovery from intensive exercise. As a result of this inadequate recovery, performance is impaired. So recovery is the key word here. Check out these articles for more information on what this means and to make sure you are going about your training in a sustainable and healthy way!

Further reading on “recovery” for athletes…

Important Elements of Rest & Recovery

Active Recovery – An Important Piece to Any Program

Recovery from Your WOD – With Microbes in Mind

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