10 Ways To Deal With Hunger When Dieting
Getting leaner means feeling hungry - but you don’t have to feel miserable...
When you’re dieting to lose body fat, one thing is for sure. You need to be in a calorie deficit. Calories in vs calories out are the fundamental rule of getting leaner. And a calorie deficit means you’ll feel hungry from time to time.
Hunger will come and go on a diet. And the amount you feel will depend on how lean you’re trying to get.
But don’t panic. You need to accept the fact that getting lean means feeling hungry, but there’s lots you can do on hungry days.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned from coaching other people, and getting myself lean for stage.
1 Food Volume
One of my favourite approaches. Get more “bang for your buck” by using high-volume foods. By using some of the foods below, you can make a 300-400 calorie meal fill a huge bowl or plate. You’ll hit the same calories, but for much more food volume. This helps you psychologically (your eyes think you’re eating more, and it takes you longer to eat), and physically (food volume fills you up for longer).
- Cauliflower (grated or mashed, and even added into other dishes)
- Courgette (grated, and added into things)
- Protein “fluff” (hit me up for my recipe)
- Egg whites
- Stir fry veggies
- Large salads
- Puffed cereal (like plain puffed rice or puffed wheat - no added ingredients)
2 Get Your Sleep Right
If you haven’t slept well, you’ll find it much harder to control your hunger. It’s nothing to do with will-power. It’s hormones. Lack of sleep throws hunger and satiety hormones out of whack, and can make you crave stodgy comfort foods. Try your best to sleep well on a fat loss diet and things will be easier for you.
3 Low-Cal Options
These days we have more low-cal and zero-cal options than ever. Use things like zero-cal noodles and rice, and cauliflower rice bulk out meals. Drink zero-calorie fizzy drinks and energy drinks. Have sugar-free jelly in the cupboard. Choose low-calorie veggies like celery, green bell pepper, lettuce, and crunchy green leaves like park choi. Keep track of these foods and drinks just the same as you do everything else. But use them to your advantage. Things like zero-calorie noodles and cauliflower rice can be a game changer when you get to dinner time with hardly any macros left!
4 High Fibre Veggies
Eating lots of veg is great for your health, but can help beat hunger too. Load of on high-fibre vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and all kind of leafy greens. Keep track of your fibre intake, as some people find too much causes bloating. But if you hit a hungry patch, remember that a veggie stir fry or salad will fill you up for very few calories.
5 Clean Your Teeth
This simple trick really does work. If you’re struggling with hunger, go and clean your teeth. The minty sensation will distract your tastebuds from the thought of food. And you won’t be as keen to eat once you’ve cleaned your teeth. I don’t know why it works, but it does!
6 Have A Nap
Kind of leading on from #5 is my secret weapon: naps! I appreciate that not everyone can nap during the day (work or kids might prevent that!) But if you can, do. Brush your teeth, and have a short nap. Naps aren’t laziness. They’re a serious strategy for beating hunger, balancing your hormones, and improving your wellbeing. Ever heard of the NASA nap? It’s a real thing. NASA studies on military pilots and astronauts found that a short nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. Make your room as dark as possible, quiet, and cool. Get comfy, and relax. Set an alarm for 20-30 minutes later. Napping will distract you from food, and might even get rid of those hunger pangs altogether. Sometimes the “energy” we crave isn’t calories at all - it’s rest!
7 Distract Yourself
Why are you hungry? Is it boredom, procrastination, or stress? If so, distract yourself with a different task. Go and sort laundry, mow the lawn, let the dog out for a wee. Wash up, call a friend, or switch tasks at work. Distracting your brain really does work. You might still feel hungry, but if your mind (and hands) are busy, it will be easier to ignore until meal time.
8 Low Intensity Cardio
If you’re feeling hungry, I wouldn’t advise full on training as a distraction technique. But low level cardio can work. Not only will it pass some time, but could actually blunt hunger signals and get rid of cravings. I advise going for a walk outside.
9 Are You Thirsty?
We often mistake hunger for thirst. Before you reach for an off-plan snack, or opt to move your next meal forward by an hour, have a drink instead. 9 times out of 10 it will help you deal with the hunger. And if it doesn’t, well you’re no worse off than you were anyway. You’re just better hydrated!
10 Remove Food Temptations
This one should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it. If you know certain foods trigger your cravings, or are easy to over-eat…. don’t have them in the house! This might not be possible for parents. If you have to have your “red flag foods” in the house, put them up high, or at the back of cupboards, or behind something else in the freezer. Put them in solid containers (not see-through ones). Make it EASY to succeed… and DIFFICULT to go off track. Make this fat loss thing as easy for yourself as possible.
I hope those will help you as you go through your own fat-loss journey. But you need to know that there are going to be times when you just have to “suck it up” and embrace the hunger. It’s all part of getting leaner!