Starving Marvin, hungry hippo or got the munchies. Whatever you call it we have all experienced hunger and it is even more apparent whilst trying to lose fat! Reducing calories sucks and that is why most people find it hard. The mental and physical battle with hunger can throw you off track and normally ends in a weekend binge. I want to provide you with a few tips on how to minimise and combat hunger, and also how to be aware of situations that may trigger cravings.
Drink lots of water
Hunger and thirst can easily be confused. If you are not keeping your body hydrated throughout the day you will have a negative impact on training and recovery but will also make you feel hungry.
TOP TIP: Try drinking sparkling water instead of still water. The bubbles fill you up preventing unnecessary snacking.
Fibre is usually associated with taking a dump (highly technical term), but fibre also plays an important role in the gut. It slows digestion through your body which keeps your stomach full. High fibre foods also expand when subjected to water, filling you up even more. Winner!
High volume, low calorie foods
The aim of the game here is to eat as much as physically possible whilst not breaking the calorie bank in the process. There 340 kcals in 1kg of broccoli compared with over 5700 kcals in a 1 kg of almonds. By eating foods that will fill you up as well as give you lots of nutrition is key.
Avoid trigger foods
What is that one food that you know if you eat you won’t be able to stop? Look at Pringles for example, they even use it as there slogan. “Once you pop you just can’t stop”. Think of foods such as crisps, nuts, pic n mix, and popcorn. I don’t think a share bag of Doritos has ever been shared. Before you know it your hand has reached the greasy foil bottom of the bag and the evidence of an orange glow around your lips is giving it away. We have all been there. Avoid these foods for a while until you know you can control the cravings.
When we are tired we don’t make great decisions. I haven’t made a single rational decision when I’m tired, hungry or cold. I have even had to go and buy a hot chicken in the supermarket, come back out and eat it in the car, before I would even go in and attempt my weekly shopping. Studies have shown that sleeping just 5 hours a night instead of 8, increases your food intake by up to 5%.
All foods are not created equal, especially when it comes to hunger. Protein has greater effect on satiety. By filling every meal up with lots of protein you will prevent snacking in between meals.
Eating at regular times throughout the day builds habits and creates your body’s own internal schedule. If you always eat at 12, then the chances are you will be hungry at 1 if you have a late lunch. Plan according your schedule and have a backup just in case that doesn’t happen. For example, plan your meals for the day but also take an emergency protein bar in case you have to work late.
Eating at the table
Studies have shown families that eat dinner at the table tended to have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index – A measure of your height against your weight). I’m a big fan of sitting at the table and eating as a family, not just for calories but for ‘family time’. It’s an opportunity to get your head out of your phone, switch off for the day and talk with your loved ones. Sounds cheesy, but even if your family are arseholes, it’s nice to hear about other people’s day.
Psychology of hunger
There are many reasons we feel hungry or have cravings, but that doesn’t mean your body actually needs food. I’ve created a list of a few reasons you may get cravings along with a tip on how to prevent it, or at least make you aware of them.
When we haven’t got much going on in the day and have some down time, the only thing on your mind is when you are next going to eat. Wasting time between meals can be the attitude at times, especially when hungry. Try and keep yourself busy or have kids (I’ve heard they keep you busy).
Buying a house, got exams or is your boss giving you a hard time? It’s easy to take comfort with food or have that extra glass of wine just to “chill out”. The solution is not food, you need to either remove yourself from stressful situations or learn how to deal with stress and anxiety better (both easier said than done). Try a simple 20 minutes of mediation in the evening, it works wonder for me. If that doesn’t work, I go to the gym until I can move my arms or legs any more.
Obviously this only applies to the ladies. Due to hormones within the body, this triggers a hunger response due to potential of your baby making abilities. I can’t comment too much about this one as I can’t don’t have previous experience.
Cinema, Birthdays and Sunday lunch. These are all examples where it seems socially acceptable to stuff your face until you can’t move. If you were to sit at home watching a film, the chances are you wouldn’t eat your own body weight in popcorn washed down with 2 litres of Coke. Having a blow out on these small but regular occasions you will be putting a damper on your fat loss efforts. I’m saying you need to be a hermit and lock yourself away but you can make sensible choices instead of ‘the usual’.
Butchers, bakers (but not a candlestick maker) all have smells associated to them, and can all make us hungry. With all the willpower in the world I don’t think anyone can turn down a freshly baked loaf or a fresh batch of cookies. I dare you to test me (please bring chocolate chip cookies).
Friends can be arseholes when you are trying to lose some timber. When invited out for a meal you opt for the sensible chicken dish, with a side salad and not the chips. Your friend on the other hands orders the full rack of ribs with a side of spicy hot wings, onion rings and chips. Secretly hoping your ‘friend’ chokes on their dinner you slowly much away on your side salad.
Don’t feel pressured by other people’s opinion on your own goal. Tell others about what you want to achieve and hopefully they will support you towards that goal.
With so many distractions such as phone, TV and just life, it’s easy to not think about what we are eating. Sitting on the sofa endlessly shovelling food into your face whilst engrossed in the latest series is easily done. You are so disengaged with what you are eating or how full you are, there is no stopping you. Try to eat slowly and enjoy the food, think about how full you are feeling and don’t eat until you are in discomfort. If your top button of your jeans is ready to pop off, you may have eaten too much (or for some strange reason you wear skinny jeans).
Now I’m not saying you can avoid all of these situations, but by being aware that they exist if the first step. By being aware of cravings and the reasoning behind them, you are more likely to overcome them.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.