In one of the seminars I spoke at recently someone asked me about hunger and what to do on days when they are just hungry throughout.
I’ve had those days, I know my clients have, and I know you have too.
You just literally want to eat anything and everything. It almost feels uncontrollable and you think “oh great here we go again. I’m never going to reach my goals with this hunger I cannot control.”
Mentally, the first step is realizing that while you can’t control if you get hungry or not, you can take some steps to lower your hunger levels on these days.
The second step mentally is realizing that some hunger and cravings are going to be part of the process, you have to accept this, no one ever got the body they want by not making any sacrifices and dealing with absolutely zero hunger, if they told you that, they are lying.
In this previous blog I go over why hunger and cravings increase when you diet.
I believe that being aware of what’s going to happen allows you to manage it much better.
However, lets say its just one of those days and hunger is higher than normal, maybe you ate more tasty foods the day before, maybe you drank a little bit the night before, who knows but you are hungry and could eat anything and everything.
Here are some things I will recommend to online clients on days when they have this feeling.
Workout, walk, run, whatever it may be, just stay active. A lot of times this extra hunger comes down to just being bored and not having anything to do.
A study also showed that those who are more sedentary may have some dysregulation of their appetite.
Not only do you burn more calories when staying active, but you also will regulate your appetite better throughout the day.
At some point though doing too much activity will probably lead to you wanting to eat more so there can be too much activity. But the point is to avoid those days where you are just very sedentary as they will more than likely lead to bored eating and a day full of hunger.
I personally LOVE to have clients track their steps throughout the day. This is a great way to ensure they are staying active and it can be done in conjunction with other things like household chores, walks with a loved one, walks listening to a podcast (shameless plug for the Mind Muscle Connection Podcast).
I have written a few blogs on the importance of NEAT for weight loss and weight maintenance. Read them here and here.
Aim for atleast 5-6k in steps per day.
Ok who doesn’t love caffeine? The good news is that caffeine can be a hunger suppressant. For me personally when I am in a fat loss phase I will increase my caffeine intake to help manage hunger.
I’m sure you have been there before where you have a little bit more coffee than normal and then you find yourself not as hungry and more active.
Caffeine can also help you get up and get moving on those days when you are feeling low energy, and as we just discussed the best thing you can do to manage hunger is to stay active.
Try to stick to zero or low cal options. Too many people hear coffee and then they think they can get that 700 calorie coffee dessert.
Be careful with consuming too much caffeine though as this can lead to increased levels of anxiety, shakiness, and if you consume too much too late in the day it can start to negatively affect your sleep.
✅Reduce snacking/focus on meals
Most snacks won’t fill you up and are very calorie-dense. A lot of times people will complain of how they just kept snacking all day and could get full. Well yeah its because the snacks you were eating were low protein high fat and carbohydrate and you never really filled up on the nutrients your body needed so you just kept eating.
These snack foods are designed to get you to eat more and pack a lot of calories for the amount of food.
Think about this, just three Oreos packs as many calories as a 4oz chicken breast. Which one is going to keep you feeling full after eating it?
A recipe for overconsumption.
Instead focus on full meals. Snacking is a HUGE culprit to people sticking to their diets. HERE are some tips on how to snack better.
Aim for 3-5 meals that consist of the foods below as this will fill you up on the nutrients your body craves and these foods also do a GREAT job at keeping you feeling full.
✅Increase your protein and vegetable intake for the day
Protein and veggies do a great job of keeping you feeling full and they provide plenty of nutrients to help you feel great overall.
Protein also uses the most energy to absorb and digest.
Aim for around 1g per lb of bodyweight.
Here are a list of protein sources to help you out:
- Chicken Breast
- Lean Steak Cuts
- Turkey Breast
- Ground Turkey
- Pork Tenderloin
- Low-Fat & Non-Fat Dairy
- Egg Whites
- Greek yogurt (my favorite is the oikos triple zero)
- Tuna packets
- Protein powder
✅Drink more water
Your brain just knows when your stomach is getting full, by drinking water we can “hack” our brain by thinking we are filling up. Oh, and water makes you feel great and keeps you hydrated. By drinking water, we are also ensuring we are not drinking our calories (which don’t keep you feeling full).
✅Slow down when eating and enjoy
One of the biggest mistakes people make is scarfing down their food when they are hungry. I do it a lot myself, but when I am in a fat loss phase I really try to dial that back and slow the hell down.
One thing that can really help with this is to try to eat at the dinner table and avoid mindless snacking on the couch. If you do decide to eat a less nutritious option then just SLOW DOWN and enjoy it.
You don’t have to do all of these each day you are super hungry, but the next time you are hungry try a few of these and see what happens. It may not make a big difference on that day, but if done consistently it will add up over time.
If you are finding yourself being extremely hungry for long periods of time it may be time to stop restricting energy and focus on maintaining to give your body a rest.
If you need more help with your nutrition or just need more structure then fill out the online coaching application HERE and let’s get to work!
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