If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of hunger that comes along with it. Feeling some type of hunger while dieting is actually a good thing because it means were right where we want to be, in a calorie deficit.
To lose weight we MUST be in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than we consume) which essentially means were not giving our body the amount of food it wants. Having some feelings of hunger throughout the day is a good indicator that you are currently in a calorie deficit. When you’re in a calorie deficit your body will start sending these hunger signals to your brain in attempt for you to eat more food. Remember, your body doesn’t know that you’re trying to drop some pounds for vacation or you have an event coming up that you want to look good for. Your body was built to survive, not to diet.
So now we're all thinking “Great, so I just have to be hungry all the time if I want to lose weight?”
Nope! There are many tips and tricks to use that can help keep you full while dieting. Adherence is the key to a successful diet, but it gets difficult to adhere to a protocol when you’re feeling hungry all the time.
Follow these 6 steps to help keep you full while dieting and allow for the most success and progress towards your weight loss goals.
1. EAT YOUR PROTEIN!
I find that most people I talk to severely undereat protein. Protein is actually the most filling macronutrient when compared to carbohydrates and fats. Studies also show it can help to reduce ghrelin (your hunger hormone). Need I say more?
Unless you are significantly overweight, you should be eating 0.8-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. I recommend you have a serving of protein with every meal to make sure you’re spreading protein intake throughout the day and keeping your hunger under control. Also, try to eat the protein off your plate before you start eating your carbs/fats, this can help to reduce overeating.
If you need an easy way to make sure you’re getting enough protein in, take your total grams of protein needed for the day and divide by how many meals you eat. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be consuming 120-150g of protein. If you eat 5 meals a day, you should be consuming 24-30g of protein with every meal.
2. HAVE 3-4 SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables are important to supply our bodies with the micronutrients it needs. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that are directly related to our metabolism, energy output, and muscle building.
Not only will eating fruits & veggies ensure you’re getting micronutrients in to keep you healthy and promote weight loss, but they can also keep you satiated and full. Vegetables and several types of fruits are high volume foods, meaning you can eat a lot of them with fewer calories. They are also a great source of fiber; fiber digests slower making you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
3. OPT FOR HIGHER VOLUME FOODS
Volume eating is a strategy that can help bring success to weight loss. One of the main reasons diets don’t work is lack of adherence. If you feel hungry all the time, it will most likely be difficult to adhere to your diet. Volume eating will allow you to prioritize high volume foods that will keep you full without increasing calories.
Volume foods are typically high in water and fiber which will aid in satiation. There is also a mental aspect involved. Sometimes we “eat with our eyes”, especially when we feel hungry. Volume eating will allow you to have larger portions of foods to fill up your bowl and plate, something that can be visually satisfying when you feel hungry.
Here are some tips to help you volume eat and stay full while dieting:
1. Eat one big ass salad everyday, seriously this is a game changer
2. Watermelon for a sweet tooth, you can eat a ton for low calories
3. Serve meat dishes on a bed of lettuce
4. Mix cauliflower rice with regular rice
5. Snack on popcorn instead of chips
6. Cucumbers and ranch seasoning, yum
7. Use salsa and hot sauce for condiments
Just to put this in perspective, you can have one cup of lettuce for 5 calories; in comparison one cup of rice is 200 calories. You can have one pound of watermelon for 130 calories; in comparison one pound of cookies is over 2,000 calories.
Be aware of what foods you are choosing to consume and swap out some calorie dense foods (cheese, butter, sugar, nutes, fatty meat) for some volume foods.
4. DITCH THE “EMPTY CALORIES”
Avoid liquid calories or “empty calories” as they will still leave you feeling hungry & usually do not provide any nutritional value.
Drinks like fruit juice, gatorade, Starbucks coffee, and alcohol can be loaded with hidden calories and provide you with minimal to no satiation. You could swap a 300 calorie Starbucks coffee for an entire meal that will keep you full for hours.
I recommend that any liquids/drinks you consume while dieting are “0” calorie. Swap out high sugar drinks for diet juice, gatorade zero, SF syrups for coffee, and almond milk for creamer. Make sure you’re getting plenty of water in, the best 0 calorie drink out there! You can always use flavor drops or infuse your water with fruit if you want something more flavorful.
5. HAVE A DIET SODA
Diet soda has 0 calories and 0 sugar.
I know there’s a lot of misconception around drinking diet soda and that the artificial sweeteners will kill you lol, but there's minimal research to back that up.
Obesity is actually one of the most deadliest diseases were faced with, so I think if you can drink diet soda and lose weight you will be in a better position that not drinking diet soda and keeping weight on.
Carbonation can make you feel full and curb hunger, so feel free to opt for sparkling water or other zero calorie carbonated drinks. They will both provide benefit to you while dieting.
6. PRIORITIZE SLEEP
Getting enough sleep is HUGE!
Your hunger & satiation hormones regulate while you sleep. This means, if you do not get enough sleep, ghrelin, your hunger hormone will increase and leptin, your fullness hormone will decrease. This will leave you feeling hungry all day and never feeling satisfied. It typically leads to overeating and mindless snacking.
On top of that, poor sleep makes you tired which means you’re less likely to get in movement throughout the day and burn calories. With increased energy input (more food) and decreased energy output (less movement), you can easily knock yourself out of a calorie deficit.
Weight loss is not easy, I won’t fight you on that! What I will say is there are so many ways to make weight loss more tolerable, sustainable, and successful.
Remember, in order to achieve successful weight loss you must be in a calorie deficit. If you need help navigating a weight loss phase or you need that extra accountability and support to push you forward, click here.