You’re working out every day, watching your calories, making sure you don’t go over a set number, and making sure you aren’t eating much fat, but getting plenty of fiber. You think you have it all straight and are making progress, but then the hunger pangs start. Your belly growls…Again. You just ate breakfast! You think, “What the heck? I seriously just ate 30 minutes ago!”
If you’re working out every day and cutting your calories without paying attention to the type of calories, you are essentially starving yourself. Your body views that as stress! And with stress comes comfort food cravings.
It’s great to move every day, but you don’t have to work out strenuously for hours each day. That’s over-training, and it’s doing more harm than good. Your body needs rest just as much as it needs movement. You can still gain muscle, lose fat, and be healthy by working out for less time, 3-4 times a week (more intense training like HIIT, Crossfit, TRX).
You do not need to work out to burn off what you eat – that’s not how the body works. It’s much more complex than that. (If it were that easy, we’d ALL be lean.) Obviously, if you’re starving all the time you are not fueling your body well enough for what you are doing and are most likely overdoing it.
Calories, schmalories! Yeah, they are important but 1 calorie of carbs does not equate to 1 calorie of fat nor does it equate to 1 calorie of protein. The body uses each of those macronutrients for different things. If you are limiting your fuel because you’re trying to keep it under some silly number, you could be short changing yourself and creating an environment of constant hangry-ness. (You know…hungry and angry? In other words, blood-sugar-crash-moodiness!)
Eat fat! Mainstream media loves to tell you not to eat fat. Reduced-fat, low-fat, fat-free = chemical crap storm! And without fat, you are also hungry. You need fat at every meal. Think about meat and eggs… they come in this complete, balanced little package of fat and protein. What does that tell you? That maybe nature intended for you to eat protein and fat together for the best benefit. Fat is also essential for nutrient absorption. Heard of fat-soluble vitamins? They need fat in order for your body to use them. Saturated fats are good for you! It’s the hydrogenated, trans fat, and rancid PUFAs that are bad for you. Fat will keep you feeling full between meals.
Don’t obsess over fiber! Fiber is fine, but honestly, it’s overrated. You do not need it to poop. (Yes, I went there! You can read more about that here.) A balanced meal of fat, protein, and carbs from veggies/roots and tubers is perfect for digestion and will keep you full. Soluble fiber from veggies and fruits is easier to break down, doesn’t typically cause gas, and is all the fiber you need. Insoluble fiber from grains just expands in the stomach with water creating a sense of fullness that is fairly short-lived. Focus on fueling your body instead of just filling your belly and you will go a long way at keeping hunger pangs at bay.
So, don’t over-train, avoid empty calories, fuel your body instead of just filling your belly, eat balanced meals with all 3 macronutrients (especially fat), don’t make fiber more important than it needs to be, and I’m sure you will see a difference in your hunger levels.
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