“Dieting” is not a good approach to losing weight. For one, dieting is a short-term approach to weight control. It only works temporarily by causing you to lose a few pounds. Without a long term plan, you’ll gain them back – and more. Plus, most people equate diets with deprivation and hunger. Unresolved hunger isn’t something you can sustain long term. Even if you manage to cut way back on calories in an attempt to lose weight, it’ll eventually catch up with you. When it does, your appetite hormones will send you scrambling to the kitchen for a snack. Appetite hormones are powerful and they’re usually determined to get their way. After all, they have an important job to do – protecting you from starvation. If you’re taking the right approach to losing weight, you shouldn’t feel hungry. Here are some tips for keeping hunger in check when you’re trying to lose body fat.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients. Carbohydrates and fats won’t give you the same sense of fullness and satisfaction as protein will. Research also shows that protein has a thermogenic effect. Your body has to expend a little more energy to digest it and break it down. Plus, an eating plan higher in proteins helps you hang on to lean body mass while you’re trying to lose body fat. Take advantage of this by eating a source of lean protein at every meal to keep hunger in check while you’re losing weight.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Choose More High-Volume Foods
High-volume foods are ones that have higher water, air or fiber content. These foods expand in your stomach so you feel full, but they’re low in calories because they’re not very dense. Good examples are fruits and vegetables. You can pile your plate high with vegetables without adding a lot of calories. This has the psychological benefit of making you feel like you’re eating lots of food. Another approach is to begin a meal with a bowl of soup or salad. Research shows people eat less when they eat foods with high water content. You have to love loading your plate up with healthy foods knowing you’re not taking in a lot of calories.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Stay Hydrated
Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. Before reaching for a snack, sip a cup of unsweetened green tea or drink a glass of water with a squirt of lemon or lime. Then reassess your hunger level. Staying well-hydrated has other bonuses as well. It helps you feel more energetic and alert. Research shows even mild dehydration can negatively impact your mood, energy level, and focus. Plus, it can cause fatigue and headaches. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume about 2.7 liters of water a day from food and beverages. If your urine isn’t almost clear, you’re not drinking enough. Stay hydrated and you’re less likely to confuse hunger and thirst.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Think Fiber
Foods that are high in fiber are usually low on the glycemic scale. This means they’re less likely to cause blood sugar and insulin spikes. Why is this important? When you eat foods that are rapidly absorbed like processed carbs, your blood sugar rises quickly and drops just as precipitously. The drop in blood sugar brings on hunger and causes you to crave carby foods. It’s your body’s attempt to help restore your falling blood sugar. Fiber and protein both lower the glycemic response to a meal or snack. Use them to help keep hunger at bay.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Have a Weekly Cheat Meal
A weekly cheat meal is beneficial from both a psychological and a physical standpoint. Psychologically, it lets you enjoy some of the foods you don’t normally eat because they’re too calorie-dense. Secondly, increasing your calorie intake with a cheat meal helps to boost leptin. Leptin is a key appetite hormone that reduces hunger and speeds up your metabolism. When you’re eating a lower calorie diet, leptin levels usually drop. A “refeed” meal increases leptin and sends your body the message that you’re not starving. Cheat meals are fine, but avoid turning a cheat meal into a cheat day. Indulge all day and you could undo some of the progress you’ve made.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Don’t Skip Breakfast
Research shows eating a protein-rich breakfast helps with appetite control. The best approach is to eat a breakfast with protein and fiber like hot quinoa cereal or oatmeal and an egg. The worst thing you can do is not eat breakfast at all. Breakfast gives your metabolism a jump-start and helps control hunger throughout the first half of your day. Give yourself a little more time in the morning so you can enjoy an unhurried breakfast. Make it no-fuss by using a slow-cooker to make hot, fiber-rich cereal or stock the refrigerator with Eggland’s Best hard-boiled eggs for fast protein. Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or a high-protein smoothie are other fast sources of appetite-taming protein.
How To Not Feel Hungry Tip #1: Don’t Skimp on Sleep
When you shortchange your body by staying up too late, it wreaks havoc with your appetite hormones. Research shows skimping on sleep reduces leptin levels and increases levels of another appetite hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that sends your appetite into overdrive. Plus, lack of sleep is linked with a greater BMI. Burning the midnight oil sets the stage for hunger and weight gain.
The Bottom Line?
Hunger isn’t a requirement for losing weight. In fact, it can work against you by leading to unplanned binges and feelings of failure when you can’t stick with the plan because you’re too hungry. Healthy weight loss comes from sustainable lifestyle changes and long-term hunger isn’t sustainable. So, don’t think you have to be hungry or deprived to achieve your weight goal. Combine regular exercise, both strength and aerobic, with nutrient-dense, high-volume foods that won’t make you feel hungry or deprived and enjoy the benefits of better health and healthier body weight.
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FoodNavigator.com. “Protein-Rich Breakfast Can Curb Appetite Throughout the Morning”
PLOS Medicine. “Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index”
WebMD. “The Dream Diet: Losing Weight While You Sleep”
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