IT'S OKAY TO FEEL HUNGRY.
Your body has an incredible ability to store fat. From a physiology stand point your body needs to store fat to survive. The issue we run into when it comes to health and fitness is storing unwanted body fat. Would you agree?
Why do you even need body fat?
Fat cells are formed in the developing fetus during the third trimester of pregnancy, and later at the onset of puberty, when the sex hormones kick in. It is during puberty that the differences in fat distribution between men and women begin to take form. Fat cells generally do not generate after puberty. Your body can store more fat but the number of actual fat cells generally stay the same. Each fat cell simply gets bigger!
Fat is a tissue that is needed by the body for a wide variety of functions such as temperature regulation, proper reproductive capabilities (particularly in women), shock absorption, the regulation of other nutrients and to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails.
Why is hunger a necessary evil to lose fat?
Hunger strikes big in moments where you are going through a calorie deficit to lose body fat. The body doesn't know you are only temporarily going through a few months of cutting your calories back to lose fat or starving to death. It sends the alarm of starvation which is why that hunger signal is so loud and can be overwhelming to you.
You are purposely trying to lose tissue that your body is consciously programmed to hold on to. So if you want that fat to go, you must feel hunger. Simple as that.
A sound way of losing body fat includes a nutrition structure that will allow you to optimally maintain muscle and strength while losing fat. If you are training with weights and include a good amount of protein in your nutrition then being a little hungry during a fat loss phase is okay. Hunger in this case means you are losing fat and keeping muscle.
So don't give into that feeling of stopping at the fast food restaurant on your way home because chicken nuggets sound good. Don't eat the rest of your kids food just because. Leave that candy bowl alone at work and don't eat the cupcakes that Jane brought for everyone because it is her birthday at the office. You are on your way to being leaner if you are experiencing little bouts of hunger.
That all being said, sometimes hunger gets a bit out of hand and you have some desperate moments. Here are some tips to combat hunger without ruining everything:
- Sugar Free Jell-O: You would have never thought it, right? But it is barely any calories. And it takes up some of that empty space in your belly. At the end of the day when you are starving it could save you from raiding the pantry.
- Caffeine: Research shows caffeine in small doses (under 400 mg a day) can have some positive benefits for suppressing appetite. Caffeine can also help you burn an extra 50-100 calories a day and fuel tough workouts when energy levels might be low. Grabbing a diet soda or having a couple cups of coffee are just fine.
- Sugar Free Gum: Yes, chewing something that is like almost 10 calories can help you get through the day when your stomach is growling but it may not be time to eat. I chew a couple pieces a day and it helps me when my calories are low from a calorie cutting phase.
- Dill Pickles: I'm giving away all my secrets. My wife can attest to the fact that I always keep a jar of pickles around. They help me in moments where those bag of chips look so tasty and when I really want to satisfy that salty craving. Don't lose it and eat the whole jar, but a couple will help and serve as a low calorie treat.
- Flavored Water: I can save the debate of whether artificial sweeteners are good or bad for a later blog post. But let’s just say that there are no bad foods or ingredients, but there are portion sizes that can be detrimental to anyone. Drinking plenty of water keeps your belly full, and flavored water can give you the feeling that you are getting a treat. Not to mention that you need a good amount of daily water consumption to keep things moving properly through your body.