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Last month, Nick wrote about his weight loss journey after gaining weight during Lockdown I. Having successfully lost two stone and 6.5% bodyfat since July, Nick talked about how calorie tracking has helped him manage each stage of his weight loss to balance it with an evolving fitness program.
Since publishing the calorie tracking article, Nick has been inundated with members asking him about his experience and the same question keeps coming up: “Do I always have to feel hungry to lose weight?”
Nick explains, “I’ve had a few people say they’re trying to be eat less but feel hungry all the time, so I thought I would share some of the techniques that have helped me.”
“The feeling of fullness can feel like a distant memory when you’re trying to lose weight. Losing weight can be tough anyway but fighting off hunger pains just makes it even harder. Luckily, it is possible to feel full and satisfied after each meal whilst continuing to drop the pounds.
The feeling full or feeling satiated, which is the more scientific term, is largely down to what we eat. Individual foods high in protein, fibre and water are shown to be the most filling. If we apply this to our own diet, a good starting point is to make sure that we have a good protein source which isn’t too high in fat (and thus calories). An example would be, if you had the choice of 5% fat mince or 15%, we would go with the 5%. After starting with the protein source, we then want to add in your carbohydrates and fibre. A great way of introducing more fibre in your diet is by increasing you intake of vegetables like carrots and broccoli. This leads onto my next point pretty nicely…
You don’t need to eat less to lose more – in fact, it is counter-productive.
We need to make sure our calories are lower, but we can actually eat more if we talk about mass – the heavier the serving weight, the fuller you’ll be.
It is important to understand why. Ghrelin – the hunger hormone – is responsible for the increasing feelings of hunger when your body is eating less than normal.
What is ghrelin?
The hormone, ghrelin is produced in the gut. From there, it travels through your bloodstream to the brain, telling you to feel hungry and to eat. It increases appetite, making you eat more and store fat. Sadly, ghrelin levels increase within a day of a diet, and increase to 24% over six months. Therefore the longer you diet — and the more body fat and muscle mass you lose — the higher your levels will rise. Hence the vicious circle of yo-yo dieting.
This is the reason why maintaining the amount the eat is so important.
What you eat, not necessarily how much you eat, will make the difference to your weight.
The best way to do this is to bulk out meals with lots of salad or vegetables. Salad items and vegetables add mass without adding calories and can also had more fibre into the diet. If we use myself as an example, my evening meals are now always overflowing with broccoli or green beans!
Remember, fruit is high in sugar therefore vegetables and salad should always be first choice to bulk meals, rather than loading up on fruit. The sugar in the fruit will convert to calories.
Another tip that may sound like common sense but should be said nevertheless – make sure that when you’re eating your meals that they taste good, but not too good. The nicer a food is, the more you’ll want to eat of it! If you think about foods you want to consume, for instance ice cream, you keep eating because it tastes nice, it’s rarely because of the small nutritional benefits or because you need all of those calories.
Balance is key. Plan for the week, not the day and you will be able to vary your diet to allow for little bits of what you like without feeling guilty.
Finally, remember the importance of water.
Often we confuse feeling hungry with feeling thirsty. By staying hydrated, we can keep our hunger at bay for a longer time compared to if you’re dehydrated.
Keeping a full water bottle with you at all times is a good way to keep drinking throughout the day. Also starting the day with a pint of water before your feel touch the floor, is a great way to wake your body up and start the day hydrated. Similarly, water or herbal tea half an hour before bed, helps to ensure I don’t go to bed feeling like I want to eat more.”
If you’re increasing exercise, it is tempting to increase the food you’re eating. This is another example where making the right choices will make the difference. You can avoid feeling like your extra exercise efforts aren’t paying off. Sorry, but a workout doesn’t warrant a Mars Bar – grab a banana, nuts and more water to increase protein while curbing the post-workout hunger pangs!
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