I remember asking myself the same question years ago. You feel hunger because you’re human. You have a body. It’s a normal physiological reaction when your body needs fuel. If you haven’t been eating enough calories to sustain your bodily functions and your energy needs, your body will “turn on the gas light” and let you know it needs fuel. This is hunger.
When you have a goal of fat loss, it can be a tricky balance between meeting your needs while staying in a calorie deficit. It’s much more realistic to eat at a slight calorie deficit. A big deficit will make you super miserable and you most likely won’t be able to sustain it for the long term. The trick is to find a good balance between getting enough to eat and still remaining in a calorie deficit. This doesn’t mean your body will function on less calories, it still needs fuel. But it will start dipping into storage for the energy it needs. We want it to use your stored fat!
If you’re worried about your level and frequency of hunger, below are some reasons that may resonate with you:
TOO BIG OF A CALORIE DEFICIT
-When you eat too few calories for a day or more. Your body will protect itself by kicking on that hunger cue. You’ll most likely eat a large amount of food or crave high calorie foods to make up the difference. It’s a natural urge.
TOO MUCH SUGAR
-Sugar can dull your hormonal responses to hunger and fullness. It can make you feel hungry when you’re not and also trick you into thinking you aren’t full, when you are. Tricky little devil.
YOU NEED MORE FIBER
- When you eat a lot of processed foods, you’re missing out on fiber. Fiber is what helps you feel full longer. When it’s in your digestive system, fiber swells and make you feel satisfied. You can get more fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and other whole food sources.
-Your gut isn’t happy. If you don’t have a happy gut, you can feel some rumblings in your stomach and mistake them for hunger cues. A LOT of people have issues with dairy, myself included. You can try cutting dairy out for a week or two and see if those hunger pangs go away.
YOU’RE REALLY THIRSTY
-When you’re low on fluids, you can easily mistake those thirsty feelings for hunger. Make sure you’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. I like to aim even higher. I try to drink 100 oz a day and I encourage all my clients to do the same.
- Many times we self soothe by eating comfort foods when we’re worrying. When you start reaching for that bag of chips, stop and take an inventory of what you’re feeling. One way to tell the difference between hunger and emotional urges, is to try deep belly breathing for 10 breaths. If you’re just emotionally buffering with food, you’ll be able to calm down and know that you really aren’t hungry right now. If you’re truly hungry, eat something for heaven’s sakes! Just try to pick a balanced snack to feel your best.
In any case, please don’t beat yourself up over feeling hungry. It’s a NATURAL, NORMAL feeling. Either your body is sending you signals or your emotions are. Either way it’s not because you’re weak or incompetent or stupid. You’re human. You have a body. Listen to it and treat it with love and respect.
You’ve got this.