One of the most challenging struggles we deal with when eating for fat loss and maintaining a caloric deficit are feelings of hunger. This is especially true when one first begins limiting their calories and their body hasn’t had time to adapt to their new nutritional allowance.
I wish I could tell you that you can completely eliminate feelings of hunger when losing fat. Unfortunately, to some degree you will just have to deal with it.
Sorry, but this is the truth.
That said, there are strategies you can employ that will help you to take control of your hunger, decreasing the likelihood of you giving in to it and, either going over your nutritional allowance, or doing what is oftentimes the end result of feeling incessantly hungry: indulging in an epic cheat meal and gorging yourself on your favorite comfort foods.
One massive cheat meal can absolutely destroy your results in a given week. So be sure to keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to binge and go on a see-food diet – even for just one meal.
Nobody wants to feel hungry. I get it. I don’t like feeling hungry, either.
In some respects, feelings of hunger are simply the natural result of maintaining a caloric deficit.
That being said, over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about keeping my hunger at bay and I can honestly say that my ability to control my hunger has paid dividends in terms of my ability to experience consistent results and maintain a lean physique.
Because questions about hunger abound in my email inbox, I want to provide those of you who find yourself feeling hungry and aren’t sure what to do about it with some much needed help.
I’m human like everyone else and I’m certainly not immune to feelings of hunger. But there are a few strategies I regularly employ that help keep my hunger to a minimum while leaning out that I’d like to share with you.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you kick those feelings of hunger to the curb and make consistently complying with your fat loss diet that much easier.
Eat Your Green Veggies
I don’t know about you, but my mother used to always have to remind me to eat my broccoli, salad and green beans. I would usually indulge her by taking a quick bite of veggies before moving back to whatever protein happened to be on my plate that would satisfy my carnivorous desires.
They say we all grow up to be just like our parents and I’m going to lend credence to that by telling you to…
You guessed it: Eat your green veggies, fool!
When fat loss is the goal, green veggies are your best friend. They’re high in fiber, low in carbs, low in calories and slow to digest.
So they will fill you up and keep you satisfied longer, without packing on a magnitude of calories that would inhibit your ability to maintain a caloric deficit.
Feel free to be generous with them and eat until you’re satisfied. I’ve never heard of anyone getting fat from eating lettuce, broccoli or asparagus – and you won’t either.
Allow Yourself a Lean Protein Snack
Allowing for snacking is usually a good plan. But, for whatever reason, when we think of snacks we automatically revert to junk foods. I am no exception.
When I hear the word “snack”, here’s a list of what immediately comes to my mind:
• Granola bars
• Bowl of Frosted Flakes
• Protein bars
• Snack cakes (Twinkies anyone?)
• Protein shake
But I’ll bet the word “snack” doesn’t exactly conjure up the most healthy, fat-burning food options in your mind, either.
So what’s the answer?
To give you an idea, a 4oz. grilled chicken breast only contains 220 calories, zero carbohydrates and will fill you up a whole lot more than a comparable number of calories from a granola bar, bowl of cereal or any other junk food.
It will also take longer to digest – keeping you satisfied longer – and is more metabolically active.
For every hundred protein calories consumed, about 30 will be expended through digestive processes. This is compared to approximately 8 calories being expended per 100 consumed from carbs and around 4 calories per 100 consumed from fats.
Plus, lean proteins won’t cause a massive spike in your blood sugar and induce the subsequent fat-storing insulin response that would result from consuming typical carb-rich snack foods.
There’s no better satiating bang for your caloric buck than green veggies. Although, lean proteins like chicken breasts, egg whites, bison, or tuna – to name a few – are definitely a close second.
Have a Cup of Coffee
Caffeine-containing coffee is a stimulant. Decaf…Not so much.
Some of the properties of caffeinated coffee I have come to know and love include:
• Giving me an oft-needed jolt to get me going in the morning
• Improving my ability to concentrate
• Allowing me to be more productive
• Staving off feelings of hunger
Not to negate the importance of the first 3 points, but I’d like to focus on the last one for just a moment.
As I’ve already alluded, it’s perfectly normal to experience some level of hunger when maintaining a caloric deficit. Nevertheless, this hunger is notorious for leading to bouts of cheat meals and binge eating.
So if you have a means of temporarily suppressing that hunger at your disposal, it can be a powerful tool, indeed.
Coffee is exactly that! Whenever you feel hungry between meals, grab yourself a cup of black coffee (or coffee sweetened with stevia) and you will see your hunger quickly subside.
Just be sure not to drink coffee any later than 3pm as it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and will inhibit your ability to get a good night’s rest.
You’ll also want to avoid loading your coffee up with sweeteners or creamers. I’ve witnessed people prepare cups of coffee that literally contained several hundred calories by the time they were done.
This is obviously not what we want when working on leaning out our physique.
Exercise or Do Something Physical
This is a tip I sort of stumbled upon while experimenting with training while in a fasted state.
Before training I would feel hungry and thought there was no way I’d be able to make it through my workout without having to stop to eat. Much to my surprise, though, by my 3rd or 4th set, my hunger was completely gone and I was firing on all cylinders.
Even more surprising was the fact that I wasn’t hungry immediately after my training sessions and wouldn’t feel the hunger return until about an hour after training.
As this study points out, intense exercise actually reduces the level of active ghrelin in the body. Ghrelin is a hormone that controls our hunger, and it turns out that science attributes my experiences with entering training feeling hungry and leaving without a hint of hunger to the reduction of this hunger-inducing hormone as a direct result of intense physical activity.
While exercising may not be the first thing on your mind when you’re feeling hungry, you can rest assured that your hunger will quickly subside soon after you start moving your body and your heart rate becomes elevated.
Besides, what better way to take control of your hunger when working on fat loss than to train your body?
Keep Yourself Busy
Ever notice how when you’re sitting in front of the television watching sports or your favorite reality show the pantry seems to, without fail, beckon you to invade it?
It’s a little odd, but why is it that when we find ourselves in this situation it’s always the Doritos, Twizzlers and ice cream calling our name?
This is exactly why you should take heed and keep these foods out of your house whenever possible. If they’re not there you’ll be forced to find something that isn’t loaded with HFCS and little more than empty calories.
On the other hand, I’ll bet you can remember a time when you found yourself so busy that you’ve skipped a meal and not even noticed. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop and they’re also a surefire way to bring eating to the forefront of your mind – even when you’re not all that hungry.
So stay busy. If you start to feel hungry and aren’t ready to eat a meal, sit down at the computer to write, do a little shopping on Amazon.com, get out of the house, play the guitar, whatever.
Even firing up the PlayStation or Xbox will usually be enough to keep your mind off of food until you’re ready for your next feeding.
Whatever it is, just find something you can do that will keep you busy, engage your mind and keep it from wandering to the first place it tends to take us: the kitchen.
No one likes feeling hungry. Unfortunately, when maintaining the caloric deficit required for fat loss, it kind of comes with the territory.
Hunger can be difficult to control at times and, I hate to say it, often times gets the better of well-meaning men and women trying to lose fat, resulting in any number of undesirable consequences – not the least of which being the negation of any measurable results they might have otherwise received for all of their efforts.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that these 5 tips for controlling your hunger will give you the edge you need to guarantee that it doesn’t get the best of you and ultimately keep you from getting the body you desire and deserve.
Perhaps the best advice I could leave you with would be this:
Learn to deal with your hunger. It will not cause your immediate death. In fact, by learning to control all of your desires you will gain more control over every aspect of your life.