With the winter months having come and gone, and the summer months quickly approaching, many of us are starting to realize it’s time to dial things back in and return to our pursuit of the ideal beach-bod. Unfortunately, this means one very particular thing: back on a diet we go.
We’ve all heard that same (para)phrase, “It isn’t the work in the gym that is hard, it’s the work done in the kitchen that is tough”. It’s a popular phrase, mostly because it is so true – dieting can suck. Or rather, hunger sucks.
Today we are going to cover a handful of tips to make your diet a bit more enjoyable and the hunger a bit more… well… bearable.
Eat More Protein
While fats and carbs frequently get all the press in regards to fat loss pros/cons, it is actually their lesser talked about brother protein that remains King.
We all understand the important of protein while trying to build muscle, but it can be all too easy to overlook its importance on a diet as well, especially in terms of satiety. Not only will protein help preserve precious muscle mass while on a diet, due to its slow digestion rate, it’ll help keep you fuller – longer.
Pro Tip: Try adding in a hefty dose of lean protein at each meal. This can range from anything to chicken to egg whites to your favorite Myprotein powder (Chocolate Peanut Butter, FTW).
Drink More Water
We all know how important drinking water is for basic health and physiological functions, but did you know that drinking more water (or not enough) can have a major impact on how hungry you feel?
Dehydration has a funny way of masquerading itself as hunger, leaving us craving an indescribable food source when a nice glass of ice water may have gotten the job done. Help offset this possibility by making sure you drink plenty of water through out the day, staying thoroughly hydrated.
Pro Tip: Before each meal try drinking one to two glasses of water. You’ll take care of any minor dehydration AND you’ll help fill up your stomach a bit, making the upcoming meal go a little further.
Get Plenty of Fiber
When it comes to hunger, there are a few major aspects that cause true physiological hunger, two of which are: negative energy balance (lack of calories) and gastric emptying (an empty stomach). The first is something we can’t do a ton about, a (modest) calorie deficit is virtually mandatory when trying to lose weight. The second – the search for a full stomach – that is something we can attack.
We just discussed how water can help fill your stomach when the calories are low and the meals are small. Luckily, we can augment that benefit even further. Fiber and water tend to go hand in hand. When fiber enters the stomach, it absorbs the water around it, expanding and further filling your stomach.
The hunger benefits don’t end there though, fibrous foods also tend to have insane volume-calories ratios, meaning you can eat much more for less of a cost on your caloric budget. And beyond that, fiber also takes much longer than typical to digest, leaving your stomach fuller for quite awhile.
Pro Tip: Add in a serving or two of veggies to each meal. Veggies carry with them plenty of health benefits, but more specifically, they are also highly fibrous. Making vegetables a staple in any good weight loss program.
Make Sure You’re Exercising
It’s easy to think of diet and exercise as two separate things but, in all reality, they actually go hand-in-hand. And as such, exercise can actually offer a handful of hunger-reducing benefits. Outside of the mechanical benefits exercise can induce, its most important benefit is one of a psychological nature. By being active in a productive nature, you will typically find yourself naturally in a better “head space” or mindset. This alone keeps your outlook positive and your motivation high.
The one caveat to exercise and hunger is that it can be done incorrectly. The key is to not fall prey to common fitness mistakes like: overdoing it and subsequently using it as an excuse to overeat.
Pro Tip: Make sure you’re participating in regular modest exercise; consisting primarily of things you enjoy. An active lifestyle will help blunt hunger all while upping your caloric burn. Win-Win.
While there is a multitude of ways to impact your hunger, the ones above typically are the easiest and accompany the biggest bang for your buck. If followed, each one of these tips can have a drastic effect on your long-term dieting success.
With that said, there is one last takeaway that I want to leave you with: It won’t be easy. And eventually, you will get hungry.
Those are two things you will need to come to grips with. Dieting should never be tortuous, but it will almost always be some degree of difficult. You should do all you can to make things as easy as possible, but the real key to lasting long-term when the hunger starts to hit, is to expect it and know how to handle it.
Be smart. Stay tough. Eat right. And you’ll get to where you want to be.