Strategies For Dealing with Hunger Throughout the Day
Strategies For Dealing with Hunger Throughout the Day
Would you consider hunger a major roadblock in your quest for attaining the body of your dreams? Many people do.
In fact, far more people find it difficult to maintain an appropriate diet than to find time to exercise, indicating that hunger is the main culprit behind many failed attempts to lose weight. That’s why it’s important to know some strategies for dealing with hunger throughout the day.
In this blog post, we highlight some of the most effective ways to manage hunger that feels like a runaway train; helping you tame it and get back on track with your goals.
The Mechanism Behind How Hunger Occurs
You may find it difficult to believe, but hunger is actually a fairly complicated process. It all starts in the brain with the hypothalamus, which acts as an alarm clock of sorts and tells your body when it’s time to eat.
When the hypothalamus detects signals that you are running low on energy, it will trigger hormones like ghrelin and leptin to send a signal of hunger to the brain. This is why when you are running low on energy, it’s more difficult to ignore your hunger pangs.
Insulin is also a hormone that plays a significant role in hunger, as it regulates your blood sugar levels. When your insulin levels are low, it signals to the brain that you need more fuel — hence why many people experience increased cravings when their blood sugar is low.
Some people may experience hunger pangs more often than normal as a result of several factors, some of which we discuss below.
Why You Feel Hungry All the Time
Hunger is actually not a bad thing at all; in fact, it is an important signal that we need to eat and get energy for the day’s activities. It’s only when this feeling of hunger is disruptive or excessive that it becomes an issue.
These are a few of the most commons reasons why you might feel hungry so often:
You're Not Eating Enough Protein
If you're not eating enough protein, you're likely to feel hungry all the time. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can prevent energy crashes and cravings throughout the day.
This alone makes protein excellent at helping to control excessive hunger, but it also has a strong thermic effect, meaning it takes more energy to digest than other nutrients.
You're Not Eating Enough Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are another essential nutrient that can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Unlike unhealthy fats, healthy fats do not promote weight gain or contribute to heart disease. Instead, they help to improve cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
This stabilization of blood glucose can also help to prevent cravings that come from energy crashes. Healthy fats can be found in foods like avocados, nuts, nut butter, olive oil, and fatty fish.
You're Not Eating Enough Fiber
Insoluble fiber is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the body. However, it is an important nutrient that helps to keep you regular and prevents constipation. Fiber is also known to promote satiety, which can help to reduce hunger and prevent overeating.
And then there's the big benefit of it helping to slow glucose absorption, which can be helpful for managing cravings, but also in controlling blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich foods include legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
Don't underestimate the importance of soluble fiber as well, which also helps to slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
You're Not Getting Enough Sleep
Want to know one of the fastest ways to cause appetite dysfunction? Create a sleep deficit. Sleep is incredibly important for overall health and well-being. Without it, you will experience disruptions in appetite hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which can lead to increased hunger.
Getting enough sleep not only helps you regulate your appetite, but it also helps to maintain a healthy weight and improve energy levels throughout the day. The mental support it offers will help you combat the psychological aspect of hunger as well, which, for example, is a common occurrence under states of high anxiety or depression.
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality shut-eye each night.
You're Not Drinking Enough Water
If you're not drinking enough water, you're likely to feel thirsty and hungry all the time. That's because when you're dehydrated, your body may start to confuse thirst for hunger. As a result, you may start eating when all your body really needs is a glass of water.
Not only this, but water in itself is a great natural appetite suppressant. Studies showed that people who drink a glass of water before meals eat less food and consume fewer calories overall.
If you find yourself feeling hungry all the time, try drinking a glass of water first to see if it helps.
You Have an Intolerance or Allergy
If you have an intolerance or allergy to certain foods, you may feel hungry all the time even if you're eating enough calories. That's because your body is unable to properly digest or absorb the nutrients from those foods.
As a result, you may end up with some extent of malnourishment, which can cause increased hunger. The best way to manage this is to identify food intolerances or allergies and eliminate those foods from your diet.
Then, find suitable alternatives that are rich in the nutrients you need, and voila!
A great starting place is Field of Greens superfoods powder, which delivers a spectrum of nutrient-dense ingredients to support your health.
Specific Health Conditions
Medical conditions, especially those affecting the gastrointestinal tract such as Crohn's or Celiac disease, can lead to increased hunger and cravings. This is because in these states there is often some degree of impaired nutrient absorption, leading to malnutrition and increased hunger.
The same goes for conditions like hypothyroidism, diabetes, and PCOS since they can all affect hormone levels, which in turn may affect appetite.
It's important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to address any underlying medical conditions. This will help you better manage your hunger and cravings in the long run.
How To Manage Hunger and Cravings
Understanding the possible causes of your hunger was step one, but now it's time to implement some fixes to get it under control. Here are some of our best tips.
Eat Enough Protein
We touched on the fact that a protein deficiency could be the cause of your hunger, so make sure you're getting enough of it in your diet. Protein helps to slow digestion and keeps us feeling full for longer. Aim for 25-30g per meal; a good rule of thumb is to fill up 1/3 of your plate with a lean protein source like chicken or fish.
Plus, it is important to keep in mind that many hormones- including those critically involved in hunger such as ghrelin, leptin, and insulin, are all peptide-based; meaning that they are made up of amino acids.
If you are still having a difficult time getting enough protein in your diet due to one reason or another, don't hesitate to include a protein powder supplement. We highly recommend a collagen-based protein such as Radiance to fortify your diet.
Opt For Fiber-Rich Foods
Low-calorie vegetables can be a real godsend when it comes to the management of hunger. This is because we can eat an almost unlimited amount of them without consequences for our waistline, and the high fiber content makes them incredibly filling.
Pile up your plate with plenty of colorful veggies at every meal, and you'll find it much easier to satisfy your hunger. You'll also be getting a trove of anti-oxidants and rare nutrients that are otherwise very difficult to obtain.
Choose Solid Foods to Tame Hunger
While liquid foods sometimes bring convenience, there is one major drawback to them- they rate low on the satiety factor. This is why you should always prioritize the consumption of solid foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and animal-based protein over liquid meal replacement products, whenever possible.
These are all slower to digest, which helps to keep hunger at bay for longer periods of time.
Plus, they contain lots of other nutrients that help fuel your body and mind throughout the day, making them a far better option than energy drinks or sugary beverages.
The only exception to this rule would be protein shakes, which are very helpful under two scenarios- to supplement an already good diet, and when speed is critical, such as the peri-workout period.
This is surprisingly helpful, and something many busy people scarcely take the time to consider. Eating quickly can lead to overconsumption and feelings of fullness, which in turn causes misery as the meal progresses.
Take your time savoring each bite, and chew thoroughly and mindfully. This way you will be able to fully appreciate the flavors of your food and recognize when you are beginning to feel satisfied; rather than running past this important marker.
And yes- it takes a hot minute for your brain to perceive the satiety, so don't eat with a sprint in mind; take it more like a casual marathon.
Get Enough Sleep
We touched on the issue of insufficient sleep causing disruption to the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety, so it's important to make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality shut-eye per night; this means investing in blackout curtains, proper temperature control (cooler is better), and minimal electronics use before bedtime. Make sure you have a cozy mattress and pillow and practice calming pre-bed rituals such as stretching, yoga or meditation.
These practices will ensure that you wake up feeling rested and energized each morning; which will in turn help to keep hunger at bay throughout the day.
If you're still having difficulty sleeping despite your best efforts, an all-natural sleep aid like DREAMZZZ can help.
Manage Your Stress Level
Do you know why perceived stress triggers hunger? It's because the hormone cortisol, which is the main stress hormone in our bodies, triggers cravings for high-sugar and high-fat foods.
This type of craving can be a real nightmare when trying to achieve dietary goals such as weight loss or muscle building.
The only solution is to find ways to manage your stress level throughout the day; this could include taking regular breaks, going for a walk, or doing yoga.
Deep breathing and positive self-talk can also be helpful in moments of intense stress. If needed, you may even want to try incorporating some adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha into your diet; these are known to be very calming and restorative to the nervous system.
Exercising regularly not only helps to burn off calories, but it also can help to curb hunger. It is believed that exercise helps to regulate the hormones that signal fullness in the brain, so when done on a regular basis it will make it easier for you to stay within your desired caloric intake and avoid binging.
Plus, even if you are already at a healthy weight, it is still important to stay active and move your body regularly; this will help to improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, increase energy and just make you overall feel better.
Don’t Deprive Yourself
Caloric restriction is tough enough by itself. Coupled with the deprivation of food choices, it can downright feel like torture.
This is why it's important to allow yourself some low-calorie treats like fruit, dark chocolate, or popcorn throughout the day. Just be sure to enjoy them in moderation; an excellent rule of thumb is to eat treats mindfully and gradually, savoring every bite as opposed to just gobbling them up like a black hole.
Finally, having snacks on hand that are both filling and healthy can make a real difference when trying to satisfy hunger cravings. Foods such as nuts, seeds, low-fat yogurt, and dark leafy greens are all wonderful options that will help keep your stomach full and energy up throughout the day.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
If you find yourself feeling the munchies often, but you generally don't eat much at any one sitting, splitting up mealtime into smaller, more frequent sittings can help a lot.
For example, instead of having three large meals a day, have five or six smaller ones; in doing so you will not only keep your appetite satisfied throughout the day, but you will also be getting more of the essential nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to function optimally, instead of leaving food on the table.
In addition, this “grazing” approach to eating can actually improve your metabolism, as the body is better able to break down smaller amounts of food at once instead of having large meals.
So if hunger pangs are a problem for you, try splitting up mealtime into more frequent sittings and see if that helps!
Eat Breakfast and Don't Skip Meals
What's the worst feeling when you're hungry? Not having a meal has to rank right up there with the worst of them.
One of the best ways to keep hunger at bay is to make sure that you are never skipping meals. Eating breakfast is especially important, as this will help kick-start your metabolism and give you energy for the day ahead.
People that eat ( a good) breakfast are also less likely to suffer from hunger cravings mid-morning or afternoon, as their bodies will have enough fuel to last until the next meal.
Go For Low-GI Carbs
Low GI carbs, or carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed, can help to keep you fuller for longer.
These include whole-wheat bread, oats, beans and legumes, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables. Eating these types of carbs will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day; this in turn will help to reduce hunger and cravings.
Avoid simple sugars or high GI carbs since these will cause your blood sugar to spike and crash, leading to cravings and overeating.
Chewing gum can help to reduce hunger and cravings as it sends a signal to the brain that you are eating, which helps to suppress appetite.
Think of it as a temporary fix that can help to reduce hunger and cravings until your next meal.
Be sure to choose sugar-free varieties, since they won't add any unnecessary calories.
Keep A Food Diary
Sometimes, having an awareness of what and how much you are eating can be helpful in reducing cravings.
Keeping a food diary can help to alert you if you're not receiving enough nutrients from your diet; this will also give you insight into what foods tend to make you hungrier throughout the day, which will then allow you to tailor your meals according to your needs.
Learn How to Meal Prep
If you don't practice meal prepping, or even know to cook for that matter, you're going to have a hard time. The absolute worst time to have hunger hit is when you don't have any food available.
Meal prepping is the act of cooking a bunch of meals in advance so that when hunger strikes, you have something ready to go. Meal prepping can save time and reduce stress throughout the day, as well as provide your body with nutritious, filling foods that will help to keep it running optimally.
As much and as often as possible, bulk-prepare meals on the weekends so that you have a supply of healthy, nutritious, and satiety-promoting meals available on demand to smash hunger pangs,
It isn't possible to fully quash your hunger pans, but the strategies outlined above can definitely help you manage it in an effective manner.
Apart from those, supplements that are marketed specifically as appetite suppressants may help, although they do little to address the root cause.