The Fitness Zone

Nutrient Deficiencies That Mess with Physical & Mental Health

May 02, 2017 | by AIF

Do you suffer from cravings? Do you often find yourself overeating?

Great news…..We spoke to Fitness Coach Louise Lawrence who shared that the solution could be as simple as including more essential nutrients in your diet!

If you’ve been beating yourself up and blaming your ‘lack of willpower’ then please STOP and take a moment to assess your craving habits and, more importantly, WHAT you are craving as this may well explain ‘WHY’. More often than not, the answer is that you have a deficiency of certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. If this is the case, then the result can leave you craving anything and everything from pizza and popcorn to burgers and chocolate.

This is where the message is messing with your mind, as the foods you crave are typically only indicators of what your body actually NEEDS. Consider this: maybe the cause of your snacking and overeating could be your body’s way of trying to make up for the nutrient deficiencies that you have from not consuming enough of the right foods in the first place. It’s possible that your body has cravings because it’s trying to tell you to eat more of the essential nutrients that it requires to be truly healthy and function efficiently.

By providing your body with a nutrient rich diet, you can effectively eat as much as you want without gaining weight. A 2004 study completed by The National Bariatric Center found that individuals who ate a nutrient-rich diet were able to lose weight without reducing their total amount of calories consumed.

Study participants were placed on a nutritionally balanced diet of 2100 calories per day, divided into seven equal servings. The participants were encouraged to eat all of the portions and even more if they were still hungry. According to the findings, the average weight loss and the amount of fat around the waist were significantly reduced by the nutritional diet.

Food cravings and, in turn, overeating typically leads to weight gain, which is something that most of us try to avoid. Habitual snacking of the foods you crave throughout the day can hurt your health and therefore your body, if you don’t look after your body where else will you live?

Let’s take a closer look at 5 common nutrient deficiencies that might be messing with your mind and body causing you to overeat.

Calcium & Magnesium

If you find yourself craving foods high in sugar and salt then you may be low in calcium and magnesium. The irony is that if you consume excess sugar or are under stress, the result is a further depletion of these highly important minerals that go hand-in-hand. So what’s the fix to curb these cravings? Increased consumption of dark leafy green vegetables like kale and broccoli, and dairy products such as milk and yogurt will improve your calcium levels. To increase magnesium you will want to get your hands on more spinach, nuts, seeds, fish, beans and avocado.


Are you feeling tired, sluggish and craving a big juicy burger? This is symptomatic of an iron deficiency and a common feeling for women going through certain phases of their menstruation cycle or pre-menopausal women. I have even met with vegetarian clients that experience meat cravings. To treat this, eat more meat, fish, poultry, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, beans and watch these cravings disappear! Note: To get the best bang for your buck, include some Vitamin C rich foods like kale, which will aid your body in its absorption of iron.

B Vitamins

When you are stressed or depressed your body needs more B vitamins, leaving you wanting to overeat or even binge. The downside here is that when we find ourselves in this state we also tend to opt for things like coffee, alcohol and refined sugars which all have a depleting effect on B vitamins. These vitamins are essential for our bodies to cope in times of stress, and have a regulating effect on our moods by forming certain neurotransmitters. Consume more bananas, avocados, egg yolks, dark leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, meats, poultry, seafood, dairy and watch your energy levels and mood improve!


As we age, our zinc levels tend to become more depleted. This is also common in people suffering from depression. Low levels of zinc will cause a reduced sense of taste, leading you to a preference for foods high in salt or sugar. Other signs of zinc deficiency include foggy thinking, thinning hair, poor immune system function, acne and eczema. To help improve your zinc levels, include oysters, crab, liver, dark chicken meat, cooked oatmeal, tofu, and nuts in your diet – your taste buds will love you for it!

Omega 3s

Do you find yourself experiencing cravings for pizza or other cheesy foods? A deficiency of omega 3s could be responsible. A healthier alternative is to include foods rich in omega 3s such as salmon, sardines and tuna. Vegetarians need not worry – including more eggs, flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds and brussel sprouts in your diet will provide ample amounts of omega 3s…. so hold the cheese and ask for these.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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