For most people in the western world, it seems like we have to choose between being hungry or being fat. Neither of those choices is particularly appealing, so we tend to make whatever choice seems less painful at the moment.
The common dissatisfaction with two bad choices has led a lot of us to become more accepting of significantly elevated body weights. After all, aren't we really just fighting nature here?
Unfortunately, the medical evidence just doesn't support this mentality. Overweight and obese people are subject to a whole host of health issues and lifestyle detriments.
The good news is that the simple choice (hungry or fat) isn't quite so simple. It is possible to maintain a healthy weight without the constant unpleasantness of hunger. We'll show you how to have your cake and eat it too. Not literally. This isn't about cake.
Protein and Fiber
One of the most effective ways to reduce hunger is to increase your protein consumption.
That's because protein takes a lot of time and energy to digest, which means our bodies continue to draw from a protein-heavy meal for longer. Protein also causes our bodies to produce satiety hormones like leptin, which tell our brains that we aren't hungry.
Fiber is just as important as protein when it comes to helping you feel full. It's helpful to think about fiber as a kind of dietary "freebie". That's because fiber is just a part of plant-based foods that cannot be broken down by our bodies.
Because fiber can't be broken down, it passes through our digestive system without adding additional calories, but improving digestion, and feelings of satiety.
Both hunger and thirst are processed by the Hypothalamus. And while they are technically different impulses, confusing thirst for hunger is incredibly common.
That's because our interpretation of thirst and hunger are somewhat complex, impacted by a variety of factors, including the fact that much of our hydration actually comes from the foods we eat.
To avoid eating when you're actually just thirsty, the simplest solution is to rid yourself of thirst. By the time you're thirsty, you're actually already a little dehydrated. Be proactive about drinking, and avoid thirst altogether. A glass of water upon waking, and a couple more glasses at times that you normally wouldn't drink should do the trick.
Speaking of drinks...
The #1 source of excess calories in the diet is sugar-laden beverages like juice and soda. These liquid calories are a particular problem because they soak up such a large portion of our daily calorie alottment, while doing basically nothing to eliminate hunger.
Liquid passes through the body quickly without allowing stomach expansion to send satiety signals to our brains. And because our bodies process liquid so efficiently, it's easy to take in calories at a much faster rate compared to eating.
What if you took the hundreds of calories that most of us consume from beverages, and replaced them with filling foods. This step alone could be enough to take the edge off of hunger while on a diet.
We all know that sleep weighs heavily on how we feel during our waking hours. What we may not realize is how much insufficient sleep can influence hunger.
Our bodies and minds are adaptive. That's a good thing of course, and allows us to accomplish goals, deal with changes, and just plain survive. The downside of that adaptability is when a deficit in one area is masked by an excess in another.
How does this apply to hunger? Well, once our days begin, most of us don't have the option to take a nap whenever we feel like it. But our body still needs energy, and if we haven't slept enough the night before, your body will look to make it up somewhere. That's where additional hunger comes in.
To ward off hunger, adequate sleep is a must.
You've probably experienced hunger in a few different ways. There's the hunger that basically whispers to you, and is content to be ignored for a few hours if you have better things to do. Then there's the hunger that screams like a banshee and forces you to be snappy with everyone within 10 meters.
If your hunger tends toward the intense, low blood sugar is likely to blame.
What causes low blood sugar? Elevated insulin. What causes elevated insulin? High blood sugar. What causes high blood sugar? Consumption of quickly processed carbohydrates.
That's right, low blood sugar levels are typically the end result of high carbohydrate consumption, which initially raises blood sugar. The whole process is like a roller coaster of ups and downs with regular valleys of high-intensity hunger. This is one roller coaster that you're going to want to get off.
Step one in leveling blood sugar: Cut back on carbs (Mind blowing, right?).
When carbohydrate consumption is restrained, your body doesn't dump insulin and cause hunger fluctuation.
Step two: Incorporate foods that promote steady blood sugar levels throughout the day. Some great options are plain yogurt, whole grains, walnuts, and avocado.
You truly don't have to be hungry to be healthy, but you do have to be smart. Add a few of these changes to your routine, and see if doesn't make things easier for you.