Being on a diet to lose body fat usually consists of some calorie deficit. By definition, this means you’re giving your body fewer calories than it needs to sustain it’s current weight so that your body uses stored body fat as a fuel source.
But eating less food than you need also comes with the discomfort of feeling physically hungry. And while a little bit of hunger isn’t necessarily a problem, it can be useful to have some strategies to deal with it. Here are 6 tips to help you do just that.
Tip #1. Protein
Eating foods which are rich in protein keep you feeling full for longer. That means that you’re far less likely to snack between meals or overeat at mealtimes. The protein aids dietary compliance and helps you stick to your calorie target, making it effective in weight loss. Foods high in protein could include meat, fish, animal products such as eggs, or some meat substitutes like tofu. When planning meals, start with protein.
Tip #2. Pick Solid Foods
Getting the majority of your calories from solid foods can help reduce hunger. Solid foods need to be thoroughly chewed, as opposed to liquid calories that can be drunk. Research suggests, if the same foods were consumed as a meal that needed to be chewed, it would reduce hunger and increase satisfaction compared with the same foods drunk as a shake or smoothie. Whole foods mean less hunger, less desire to eat and a more pronounced feeling of fullness and satiety.
Tip #3. Coffee
Warm drinks have been a dieter’s friend for a long time, but of all of them, coffee may have the edge. Coffee increases the peptide YY, which, released into the gut, promotes a feeling of fullness. Interestingly, decaf coffee seems to have the best effect, with reports suggesting it delays the onset of hunger for up to three hours.
Tip #4. Water
Drinking water before your meal can help create a feeling of fullness in the stomach, which prevents the overconsumption of calories. Rather convincingly, studies suggest that people that drink two glasses of water before consuming a meal eat up to 22% less than people that don’t drink water before eating.
Similar effects have been found when soup is used as a starter to the meal. The conclusion of the research seems to be that provided the liquid is ingested close to the start of the meal, it will affect reducing the overall number of calories consumed. Just be mindful of the type of soup you have, aim for clear soup with veggies and no cream.
Tip 5. Mindfulness
It can be common in the modern world to eat a meal at a desk or in front of the television. Eliminate distractions, put away your phone, and focus your attention on the food to further reduce hunger and increase awareness of fullness and satiety during the meal. Mindfulness can improve food enjoyment and has been effectively used to reduce episodes of binge eating.
In practice, this could mean eating sitting down at a table and eating at set mealtimes throughout the day. A beneficial technique is to put your fork down while you chew and to focus your attention on the texture of the food, the temperature of the meal, and appreciating the flavours.
Advice from Precision Nutrition is not to pick up your fork again until you’ve thoroughly chewed and swallowed what’s already in your mouth. This is excellent advice as the digestive process begins in the mouth, and rushing your meal could mean not chewing properly. This can lead to digestive discomfort, bloating and gas.
Tip #6. Choose A Smaller Plate
Serving your meal on a smaller plate can help overcome the need to clear everything on the plate when you are already full. This is something that many people feel that they ought to do, and was instilled in them from a young age. Since this is often a long-standing behaviour, it can often be challenging to overcome. Rather than battle with it, you can use a smaller plate to feel like you’re having a relatively large meal.
Feeling some hunger is normal when you’re dieting, and not treating it like an emergency is vital to learn. You can sit with a small amount of physical hunger for a while with no adverse side effects. Although there are many methods that you can use to help reduce the discomfort of feeling hungry, it’s important to distinguish between physical hunger and craving.
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