4 Min Read
How to Manage Hunger Without Feeling Like You’re on a Diet
Do you get hangry? You know that feeling of irritation, headache, and shakiness that happens when you haven't eaten in a while. Are you sure that's hunger speaking, or could it be another factor in our biology screaming for attention? Maybe it's an addiction!
Hunger is a primal instinct that occurs when our bodies lack the energy to perform their vital functions. You may notice that your hunger feelings occur at roughly the same time of day. Usually, this is right before a regularly scheduled lunch or dinner time. That's when physiological alarms blare, announcing that it's time to eat.
A few factors affect how quickly you get hungry after a meal;
- How many calories did you consume?
- What was the macronutrient mix of your meal (proteins, carbs, and fat)?
- What's the speed of your metabolism?
Is it hunger?
In modern society, especially in wealthy countries like the United States, hunger is often misunderstood. There's a difference between hunger, appetite, and addiction.
Hunger is a biological process occurring when your stomach is empty, and the digestive tract releases a hormone called ghrelin. Referred to as the "hunger hormone," ghrelin signals your brain to produce the acids that prime the stomach to receive and process food. After a meal, ghrelin production stops, and you no longer feel hungry.
People who eat too quickly tend to overeat because they don't allow time for the ghrelin process to signal the brain that they're full.
Appetite is more of a psychological response to food. We confuse desire for hunger because both are mechanisms requiring you to eat. Think of appetite as wanting food and hunger as needing it.
Here's a few examples of appetite;
- Eating out of habit
- Eating out of boredom
- Eating for stress relief
- Eating as a response to an aromatic or visual cue
If you eat too many carbs or processed foods, the physiological response you feel might be withdrawal. Do you think you're a carb addict?
According to psychologist Dr. Adi Jaffe, "You are addicted to carbs if consuming them interferes with life in a meaningful way over a period of time, and you're having difficulties changing your behavior to stop the mounting consequences."
In other words, if you feel you can't stop eating carbs and it creates a physical response like trembling hands or headaches, you're probably addicted to them.
The key to managing hunger is avoiding the foods that stimulate appetite and addiction. Foods high in sugar activate the brain's reward centers in susceptible people.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stop eating high-carb foods? Who can stop at one cookie or a single potato chip? Artificial sweeteners also have this same effect, and studies report that people who consume them eat more. Drinking that diet soda with zero calories is making you fat.
Ditch the carbs
Several studies report that when people dramatically cut back on carbs but are allowed as much protein and fat as they want, they end up automatically eating less because they're no longer as hungry. If you ditch the carbs, you'll eat less food and consume fewer calories per day.
Eat more protein
Protein is an essential amino acid your body needs to build and maintain muscle. But don't run to GNC and buy a bunch of protein powders, shakes, and bars. To manage hunger, prioritize foods with a high protein to calorie ratio.
Protein increases your metabolic rate during digestion and provides that feeling of being comfortably full and satisfied. Getting enough protein at every meal can lower ghrelin levels and increase hormone levels that make you feel full.
When we choose foods with high protein percentages, it helps us feel full, so we naturally end up eating less without going hungry.
Eat high-fiber vegetables
High-fiber foods will help keep you feeling full for a more extended period. These foods take longer to digest and are usually lower in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals.
So what are high-fiber, low-carb vegetables? The simple rule is if they grow above the ground, they're generally lower in carbs. Below the ground, or root vegetables, usually contain more carbs.
The common misperception of high-fat foods is that eating them makes you fat, which is simply not true. In fact, fat not only adds to the flavor and richness of our food, but it's also where we should get many of our calories.
It doesn't take much fat in a meal to help you feel full. Keeping the skin on your chicken, tossing a pat of butter on your veggies, and dressing salads with oil and vinegar are tasty ways of conquering hunger.
Eat better food
The best way to manage hunger and your waistline is to eat better quality food. Always choose quality over quantity and buy the highest, most nutritious food you can afford. Higher quality foods require you to eat less of them, which in the long run is less expensive than buying loads of cheap, processed, nutritionally lacking junk.
Eat better to live better.
Anther. Male wellness where it counts.