The reason why most people fail at reaching their dieting goals is due to this simple fact:
Your inability to control your hunger. The cravings break you down mentally. You give in to the temptation of grabbing that oreo cookie crumble sundae.
I’ve been there. In fact, I still struggle with these temptations every single time I diet. I like eating out with friends and I refuse to give up my social life for the sake of losing weight.
So, I decided to write this article to give you some of the strategies I use to control my hunger and still burn fat when I’m dieting.
It’s no secret that dieting for weight loss means creating a calorie deficit. This can be tough when you’re eating out often like me.
Putting yourself into a deficit can bring you some uncomfortable symptoms: hunger, cravings and low energy to name a few.
How do people do it? How do they stay on track and not dive into ice cream sundaes and bags of chips like vultures after meals?
1) Know The Science Behind Hunger and Satiety
There’s nothing magical about what I teach. If you can make yourself feel “full” throughout the day, then you’ll have an easier time on your diet.
First things first: either eat all the snacks in your house, or throw them out. This is tough when you’ve got a family who likes to snack on chips all day.
Perhaps you should use this as an opportunity to introduce whole food meals into your household instead of crummy foods.
Anyway, feeling satiated is a science. Our bodies act a certain way when we don’t feed it the calories it wants. Our eating instinct are determined by our current insulin, ghrelin and leptin levels.
Insulin’s job is to transport food’s nutrients to our cells for use. When it’s done doing that from the last food consumed, it drops down to a normal level.
Keep in mind that insulin is the hormone that prevents fat utilization. This means that following a meal, blood sugar will rise because of the amount and type of carbs consumed.
If the carbs are processed, they will be absorbed faster, making blood sugar rise. This makes the pancreas release insulin, which makes muscle, liver and fat cells take in the blood sugar and remove it from the blood.
Elevated blood sugar is toxic for the body meaning that crummy carbs are best avoided for health reasons.
Leptin and ghrelin are the main hormones for regulating our appetite. Both are peripheral signals, meaning they are in our body and affect our brain.
Leptin can be found in fat cells while ghrelin is in the lining of the stomach. Leptin decreases hunger while ghrelin increases the cravings.
These two hormones make hunger control harder and harder the fatter you are. This is because leptin increases as your body fat percentage rises.
This is bad because your metabolism will slow down if you don’t eat proper meals during your diet. On the flip side, the less leptin you have, the more hungry you’ll be.
Sticking to healthy, whole meals during your diet will make the process a lot easier. Your body doesn’t want to be in a deficit. It wants to continue eating what it’s used to. It wants you to stay fat. Don’t give it that satisfaction.
As I often say, get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Not only is this tip great for dieting, it’s great for life. Disrupt your normal way of living. Shake things up. This is part of the Lean Warrior Philosophy.
Keeping your hunger under control is a lot easier when you implement these strategies I’ve written for you. Let’s dive in to these.
2) Eat More Protein
One of the best ways to make dieting easy is to increase your protein intake. If you’ve never tracked your macros before, now would be a good time to start.
Download the MyFitnessPal app and start weighing your food. Look at the labels of everything you eat. Track how much protein, fats and carbs these foods have. This is a skill that will carry you far in your health journey.
While you don’t need to track everything if you’re overweight, as you get leaner and leaner you’ll need to be very accurate with your daily calories.
Research shows that a diet that’s high in protein will reduce your overall appetite. Therefore, eat at least 30 grams of protein per meal if you can.
Most people get fat because their diet is low in protein and high in carbs and fats. Adding more protein to your diet helps you lose weight because the body won’t store any extra protein as body fat.
Like mentioned about leptin earlier, protein can satisfy that sensitivity so you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time.
How much protein should you consume per day on a diet?
It really depends on your current body weight and whether you’re a man or woman. The basic understanding is that more protein is better.
As a lean male, I aim for around 170 grams per day. I good starting point is to set your daily protein goal to be the goal weight of what you want to weigh.
So, if you’re currently a fat 225 pound male and you want to get down to 160, consume at least 160 grams of protein per day.
Similar rule applies to women: eat around the goal weight. If you want to be a lean 110 pound woman, then try to eat 110 grams of protein per day.
Protein bars and protein shakes will make it a lot easier to hit your goals every single day. Have some healthy carbs with your shakes and you’ll feel full.
Some sample foods to eat daily include spinach, broccoli, kimchi, green beans, grass-fed beef, pork, tuna, wild salmon, chicken, eggs and egg whites, turkey, greek yogurt, almonds and cashews for sources of protein.
3) Avoid The Low Carbohydrate Diet Fads
I’ve tried the Keto Diet in the past, and it does help you lose body fat. However, I personally don’t enjoy ketosis as I’m constantly hungry on that diet.
Therefore, I find it better to stick to a diet that doesn’t restrict carbs. This is also better if you’re hitting the gym several times per week (which you should be doing).
Low carb diets reduce your strength levels drastically. It’s really hard to find the motivation to hit the gym and keep your muscles strong when your glycogen levels are low.
To make matters worse, research shows that low carb, high fat diets suck at controlling hunger because dietary fat doesn’t increase your leptin levels.
When your leptin levels are low, you’ll feel hungrier. You’ll be tempted to give in to the cravings that you have.
I recommend to keep the fats low and increase carbs. Healthy, whole carbs increase your leptin levels dramatically. Combine that with protein each meal and you’re bound to be satiated throughout the day.
Empty, processed carbs won’t help you with hunger. You need to stick to healthy, whole carbs.
Here’s a list of carb sources that you need to remove from your kitchen ASAP:
- Sodas and sugary drinks of any kind
- Candy and chocolates
- Cookies, donuts, cakes, ice cream
- Energy drinks
- Chips and crackers
- Bagels, breads, tortillas
This list is more than enough to get you started with healthy carb sources. Your diet should consist of greek yogurts low in sugar, fruits, vegetables, rice high in fiber and the occasional treat.
Healthy, whole carb sources will keep you fuller for longer than any high calorie processed carb.
This overall diet will also provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and will be better for your body as a whole.
Healthy carbs help add fiber into your diet. Fiber is indigestible, and it absorbs water as it moves through your digestive system.
Brown rice, wheat bran, nuts, beans and green veggies are good sources of fiber.
One of the biggest problems with the American diet is the lack of fiber we consume. I personally believe a diet absence of fiber leads to cancers because fiber helps “scrub” out the chemicals and other toxins in the digestive track.
Fiber also lowers your cholesterol and helps control blood sugar levels. So, get serious about fiber intake. Weigh out your vegetables and track them daily. Count these healthy carbs.
Last but not least, fiber is filling. Even though a bowl of broccoli might only be about 50 calories, you’ll feel much more full from these vegetables than a bag of chips which has ten times more calories.
4) Consume Healthy Sources of Fats
The easiest way to get healthy fats into your diet is to eat more nuts. Nuts are a source of healthy fats, and they are usually associated with protection against heart disease and diabetes
However, nuts can are usually packed full of calories. You definitely want to weight them out to make sure you’re not over-consuming.
For example, one almond is about 9 calories. A handful of these can be around 15-20 grams of fat. It’s good fat like I said, but your total daily calories will determine your weight loss.
Another healthy source of fat comes from egg yolks. Packed full of vitamin k2 and omega 3 and 6 fats, egg yolk is one of the purest, healthiest foods you can put into your body.
Don’t believe the lies about saturated fats. They’re perfectly fine to consume. Fats are only “bad” when you’re consuming processed foods.
It’s up to you whether you want to eat a high fat or high carb diet. Many people lose weight on high fat diets, and they are full of saturated fats.
At the end of the day, it’s all about tracking your calories on the daily. You need to put yourself in a caloric deficit every single day and eat enough protein to lose weight.
Whether you choose to do this with high carbohydrates (which is what I do) or high fats, it’s up to you — you cannot do both, however.
5) Avoid Foods High In Sugar
Avoid these high-sugar, high-glycemic carbohydrates. The slower the carbs break down, the lower the glycemic index they have.
You may have heard about glycemic index if you know anyone or if you have diabetes, gestational diabetes, high cholesterol, or any weight management issues.
The good news is that even if you aren’t affected by any of these, keeping a diet that’s low glycemic will reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A glycemic index measures the effect of different carbs on your blood sugar level. If the carbs break down quickly, your blood sugar levels will spike. These foods are considered high on the glycemic index.
Why does this matter?
If you eat foods high on the index, which are usually processed, sugary snacks, you’ll want to keep eating more. They don’t satisfy your cravings whatsoever which is why it’s easy to eat a whole bag of sour patch kids even though it’s 400+ calories.
Therefore, your sugar sources should be from natural sources. This means fruit.
My go-to fruits for weight loss are apples, dark berries, prunes, pears and bananas. I have an apple every single day and it’s very filling with some protein.
Yes, fruit is high in sugar. But, it’s natural sugars. Fruit also contains many vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants which are great for the body.
However, make sure you’re weighing your fruits and vegetables. One large apple can be around 30-35 grams of carbs. You must track this like any other carb.
6) Eat Light Meals For Breakfast and Lunch
One of the more popular forms of dieting these days is called Intermittent Fasting. Someday I’ll write an article about this, but that one I linked will tell you all about it.
I personally do not do intermittent fasting. I don’t think it’s nearly as effective as people say it is. As long as you’re consistent with your daily calorie goals, you’ll lose weight.
With that said, I think it’s really helpful to skip breakfast and push it back a couple of hours. My first meal will be around 11am (or later depending on my day).
I’ll try to get 40 grams of protein for my breakfast in the form of sliced meats, eggs, protein bar or shake. No more than 300 calories for breakfast.
With such a low calorie meal for breakfast, this gives me plenty of calories to work with for the rest of the day.
Do my friends want to meet up for dinner? Great! I’ll be sure to eat just protein for the day until dinner time where I’ll get most of my carbs.
This is a very important strategy for those of you who have social lifestyles where you’re eating out multiple times per week.
Whenever you eat out, assume that you’re going to consume at least 800-1000 calories. You’d be shocked at how dense restaurant food is.
On days where I eat out, I try to eat just protein for all of my other meals throughout the day. This could be foods such as egg whites, protein powder, meat slices, ground turkey because it’s really lean, etc.
Basically, I avoid high fat, high carb foods for my meals when I know I’m going to be eating out.
And, just in case someone hits me up at 5pm for dinner?
Well, I’m already eating a very light breakfast and lunch high in protein and low in everything else. Therefore, no matter what happens, I’ll be getting the majority of my carbs late in the day.
Final Thoughts on Controlling Your Hunger
It’s quite easy to control your hunger cravings when you push back the majority of your calories for the afternoon and evenings.
Yes, you might be hungry during the day at work, but just keep yourself occupied and you’ll make it through.
Feel free to pack a protein bar for lunch. I have protein bars that have 20 grams of protein and 190 calories total.
These are great for pushing back early morning and lunch time cravings.
What strategies do you have for controlling your hunger and food cravings? Comment below and let me know!