How hunger can stop you losing weight

Being hungry

Small portion of food on big plate isolated on white

Are you cutting back on what you eat and even now feeling the hunger pains, feeling grumpy? Why is losing weight so much easier yet so hard to lose them?

Losing weight requires your body has to convert stored energy (your body fat) into usable energy. From this comes the concept of calories in vs calories out – but the way your body processes food (and drink) is far more complex than this simple idea. How much energy you need each day depends on your unique body structure, energy needs, body type and many other factors. I never advocate counting calories, however as a concept there is some truth in the essence of it.

If you severely restrict your food intake you will be eating less calories and force your body to get what it needs from your stored body fat, but if you do this for more than one day, your body will send more urgent ‘my stomach is empty’ messages which become increasingly hard to ignore. Using your willpower alone will ultimately fail as willpower strength diminishes over time (see earlier blog on willpower). Losing weight doesn’t have to involve starving yourself: there is a better, easier way that will get your body to use your stored energy (body fat) and lose weight in the process.

 

Losing weight whilst still eating abundantly?

During waking hours, your body receives the “I’m hungry” message 1–3 hours after your stomach has emptied. How quickly this happens depends on what you eat: some foods are quickly processed such as: highly processed foods, foods containing sugar, white flour and white rice as well as some of the very sweet fruits. Other foods such as those containing protein, fat and fibre will take much longer to be processed.

If your stomach takes a long time to process the food you have eaten, but it has a low energy content, you won’t feel hungry, yet your body will be converting body fat to make up its energy needs. Coloured vegetables and whole grains have this quality.

The mythical average woman needs 2,000 calories every day – lets just use this number for guidance for you’re probably not average! Now lets take a ridiculous example. If you ate 4 x 125g bars of Cadbury’s chocolate or 16 heads of broccoli (5.6 kilos) they both equate to 2,000 calories. Neither I hasten to add would be a good choice to eat but if you ate the chocolate, it would be processed by your body quickly and by the end of the day you may well be feeling hungry again (as well as feeling sickly!) whilst I’m fairly sure it’s impossible to eat that much broccoli in one day – but you did you would feel impossibly full. Most importantly I hope you can see the calorie content of the food alone is no indicator as to how your body will process it and how hungry you will feel.

If you begin to switch the proportions of food on your plate (as in the steps below) you will also reduce your energy intake.

Step 1. Really increase your coloured vegetable intake by loading your plate with these at the same time reduce your portion size of foods containing those that are quickly processed by your body.

Step 2. Each main meal needs a small quantity of food with good quality protein (lean meats, fish, eggs, beans and pulses) to go with your vegetables. Animal based proteins will also contain a certain amount of fat – so a small portion is all you need.

Step 3. Your body needs small amounts of good fats (olive, coconut, macadamia, avocado, flax seed, pumpkin seed oils as well as oily fish oils) too. Oils like flax seed oil actually help decrease your bad cholesterol levels. Fats and oils are concentrated energy sources: a small amount goes a long way in terms of making you feel full.

Try changing your proportions and notice how long it is before you feel hungry again.

I am always interested to hear your thoughts, views and ideas. Get in touch via the comments box below.

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