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Always Hungry When Dieting? How You Can Manage Hunger While Losing Weight

Do you want to learn how you can stick to your diet without feeling hungry all the time? Keep reading for some evidence-based strategies to help you stay full and lose weight as painlessly as possible!

We are biologically wired to seek out food. This old instinct is the very drive that kept early humans alive. It’s also the same feature that leads many of us to overeating. 

When we experience the challenge of being on a diet, it’s this survival instinct we are bumping up against. It’s what makes the concept of dieting so simple but the execution so very difficult. Each time we cut our calories to lean up, our body sends us hunger signals to make sure we don’t starve. 

Even though these are unique challenges to be up against, there are some smart ways to work around persistent hunger while dieting. 

So how can we diet, lose weight, and manage our hunger? Here are my top tips:

Don’t Starve Yourself 

First things first: don’t cut out too many calories. 

While I understand this sounds like controversial advice, eating too few calories when dieting is a recipe for failure. By cutting out an unreasonably large number of calories, our energy decreases and our hormones can dip, making our metabolism slow down and causing extreme hunger. 

Instead, you should eat in a moderate calorie deficit. This means that your calories are slightly lower than what you burn, but not so much where it creates a physical strain.  The key word here is “sustainable.” You need to be eating enough calories to support your body’s processes and a quantity you can stick with over time.

Eat High Volume Food

High volume foods are an amazing tool to fight off hunger without taking in added calories. These foods physically take up lots of room in your plate and in your stomach while still being low calorie. The end result is that both your mind and your body feel satiated, reducing overeating. 

Try eating one really big salad a day to help stay full without loading up on calories!

Eat Plenty of Protein

Every time we talk about weight loss, we end up discussing protein. While a common diet trope, protein garners attention for some very good reasons.

For one, protein keeps you fuller for fewer calories than fat or carbs. This increased our satiety, reducing overeating and persistent hunger. 

Second, the body uses more calories when digesting protein compared to other nutrients. This is due to something called the thermic effect. Through the thermic effect, you can boost your daily calorie burn just by digesting your meal!

Finally, getting enough protein means you don’t have to worry about excessive muscle loss while dieting. 

For a bit of inspiration, here are some of my favorite sources of protein:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Dannon Greek Light & Fit Yogurt
  • AE 2% Cottage Cheese
  • Egg Whites
  • Whey Protein Powder
  • Kodiak Cakes Flapjack and Waffle mix
  • Built Bars

Eat Nutrient Dense Foods

Like eating enough protein and calories, eating a nutrient dense diet helps our body stay nourished and satisfied. Having ample micronutrients also keeps us as healthy as possible, meaning we feel better and more energized even while eating fewer calories. 

Many clients I talk to however, have the wrong idea about nutrient-rich foods.

See, eating a nutrient-rich diet does not mean eating bland meals and abstaining from all sugar. In fact, a nutrient dense diet does the exact opposite by encouraging you to eat from a variety of food groups and explore a variety of new meats, fruits, and colorful vegetables. 

Eat High Fiber Foods

Contrary to popular belief, fiber does way more for the body than regulate digestion. 

High-fiber foods help stave off hunger in two notable ways: they are slow to digest and they retain water. 

When we digest fiber, the slow digestion of these materials means they stay in our stomach longer. This physically keeps us full and satisfied. While there, fiber also absorbs water, making it physically take up more space over time. 

For suggestions on some high-fiber foods, try incorporating the following into your diet:

  • Raspberries, pears, apples, bananas
  • Peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, potatoes with skin
  • Spaghetti noodles, quinoa, oats, popcorn
  • Lentils, black beans, chia seeds, pistachios

Drink Plenty of Water

Good hydration is important for many reasons, some of which are more surprising than others. 

In addition to keeping your skin supple and your digestive system happy, getting enough water is actually a natural way to reduce hunger. Here’s why: sometimes the body mistakes thirst for hunger. 

To stave off dehydration, try to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you don’t like the idea of drinking plain water, try some of these low-calorie additions:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Diet Soda
  • Crystal Light packets

Watch Out for Sneaky Sauces

Most of us put condiments on some of our meals. We don’t think twice about seasonings and sauces designed to make us enjoy our meals even more. Unfortunately, those same sauces are often a hidden source of excess calories. 

Choose the wrong condiments and you can add hundreds of excess calories and fat to your diet without ever boosting your satiety. 

However, not all condiments are bad. There are several low calorie options ready to explore:

  • Bolthouse Farms salad dressings (my favorites are Classic Ranch and Green Goodness)
  • Simply Heinz ketchup
  • G Hughes Sugar Free BBQ Sauce
  • Lemon Juice
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Spices – such as Thyme or Rosemary
  • Tapatio hot sauce
  • Mad Butcher Salsa
  • Cary’s Sugar Free Maple Flavored Syrup

Eat Consistently

While there is no right or wrong way to structure your meals, it’s important to be as consistent as possible. When dealing with hunger, knowing exactly when your next meal or snack is will help keep perspective and reduce non-scheduled snacking. 

Finding what plan works for you often requires a bit of trial and error. Do you like to eat larger meals less frequently? Do you want to leave room for snacking throughout the day? Choose something that is closest to your instinctive eating pattern to make the schedule easier to maintain. 

Once you uncover what works for you, it opens up the door to a new level of stability in your daily routine. 

Some ways to enhance this meal stability is through meal prepping, meal planning, and preemptively setting aside your food for the next day. This all helps you keep to your diet by removing the guesswork of daily nutrition. 

Speak to a Nutritionist

I hope you found this article helpful to your weight loss journey and realize that it’s entirely possible to diet, lose weight, and manage your hunger!

For more strategies that can help you to be consistent and successful, check out my article 7 Simple Ways to Stick To Your Weight Loss Diet: Mental Strategies for Success.

Send me a message if you’d like to chat more! I’d love to help you with your health and fitness journey.

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