Losing weight is about fewer calories in and more calories out. Right? The problem with eating fewer calories than we burn is that intentionally cutting back on food intake inevitably makes people hungry. As you cut back on your daily intake, there is a sense of deprivation, your body goes into panic mode, and you get hungry. You develop cravings and urges to eat. You keep expecting the constant gnawing of hunger pangs will pass, but instead you feel compelled to eat more. Occasionally, you go back to your old ways of eating and the pounds creep back on.
While calories do count, it's a sense of fullness and satisfaction which are necessary ingredients for long term success. Here's the scenario: When your stomach is empty, nerve impulses automatically signal the brain to increase your appetite. In addition, a powerful brain chemical, neuropeptide Y (NPY), is released to stimulate appetite. If you restrict food for any reason – your body can not tell the difference between a diet or famine – nerve impulses and NPY soar in an effort to make you eat.
What you need to prevent these signals is larger quantities of the right kinds of foods. Instead of walking around starved all day, there are multiple ways to keep your body feeling happily full, and all the while losing weight. Here are ten powerful and practical ways to keep your hunger satisfied.
1. Eat Less. More Often.
Rather than eating one or two large meals, create structure for yourself by dividing your eating into several smaller portions through the day. How frequent should meals be? Three mid-size meals a day may suit some people, but for many five or six little ones may be a better plan. Decide how many meals and snacks work for you and then stick to your plan. Once you get good at following your eating schedule, then you can experiment with becoming looser with your eating. Eating smaller meals more often can give you the constant energy levels that leave you feeling more balanced and productive. Plus, you will be less likely to overestate when you feel reassured that more food is available shortly.
2. Balance Complex and Simple Carbohydrates.
Make those frequent meals about 300 to 500 calories each, with a mix of protein (nuts, eggs, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, beans, fish, lean meat, soy or poultry without the skin), fruits and vegetables, and whole grains to keep insulin and blood sugar levels even.
Simple carbohydrates, found in fruit juice, soda, candy, or highly processed foods like sugary cereals, digest quickly and provide an immediate source of energy. Complex carbohydrates, including vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain breads and cereals, and beans take longer to digest and provide a longer lasting source of energy. Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion, help stabilize blood sugar levels, and keep your energy at an even level. By creating a balance, and limiting processed carbohydrates you can feel satisfied longer after your meal.
3. Eat Solidly.
Solid food is more filling than liquid food. Yet, we are now drinking more calories than ever before – soft drinks, Frappucinos © and other fancy coffee drinks, frozen Slurpees ©, sports drinks, alcohol, juices, sugary teas, and flavored water. A particular problem with liquid calories is that they do not fill us up or keep us satisfied like solid foods. Without having a sense of fullness, we do not compensate for the calories in juices by eating fewer calories from other foods.
4. Snack Sense.
Eat snacks that contain fiber, protein, and water. The more of these ingredients a food contains, the longer it will satisfy. For example, a sandwich made with whole grain bread, lean protein, lettuce and tomato, and an apple is going to be far more satisfying than a few rice cakes and iced tea. In general, the more satisfying food feathers, the more effectively they prevent nibbling. Rather than downsizing your normal portions when trying to lose weight, which can make you feel hungry and deprived, try eating more of low-calorie, high fiber, protein, and water content foods. Examples include hummus and whole wheat crackers, oatmeal made with skim milk and topped with raisins, cottage cheese with fresh fruit, or protein energy bars that are high in fiber and fruit and low in sugar.
5. Pile on the Veggies.
Sometimes you've just got to have some cookies, ice cream, pie, or chips. But to keep excess weight off – and stay healthy – include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. High fiber foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, oatmeal, whole grains) fill you up and help you eat less. High fiber foods tend to be bulkier, filling up the stomach quickly. This stimulates receptors in your brain to let you know you're full. They also slow down digestion, helping keep you full longer. And if you're full longer, you're more likely to eat less later on.
6. Soup is Good Food.
Research shows that soup is one of the most satisfying foods there is. Soups may be of value for weight loss because they tend to be low in calories and high in a large volume of liquid. Soup weighs a lot. Just a few minutes after you've eaten them, soups and other foods high in water (ie vegetable stews or boiled potatoes) fill you up quickly and tell the brain you're adequately fed. Soups made from tomatoes, vegetables, beans, peas, or lentils are especially effective. (Note – soups made with cream, cheese, or sausage are not likely to be beneficial.) Excellent hungry busting soups include barley soup, lentil soup, split pea, tomato, and vegetable soup.
7. Losing Weight with Peanut Butter.
Peanut butter may seem like a guilty pleasure, but research shows it could be a healthy habit. A two-tablespoon portion size is packed with 8 grams of protein, 190 calories, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Research shows that dieters who eat nuts tend to stick to their diets because the fat and fiber content of nuts are very filling. As a result, they are not as hungry and extremely eat less and lose more weight.
8. Protein Power.
The addition of protein to a meal can increase the amount of a hunger-fighting hormone. The hormone, known as peptide YY (PYY) may help reduce hunger and aid weight loss. Research suggests that low-fat foods containing protein produce stronger and more sustained feelings of fullness and decrease the likelihood of overeating later on. Including small quantities of seafood, lean meat, skinless poultry, reduced-fat dairy products or soy products with each meal may be excellent appetite subduers. Especially lean choices of protein include flounder, cod, crab, sole, tuna, egg whites, sirloin, tenderloin, skim milk, Canadian bacon, and loin pork.
9. Drink Up!
A glass of water has absolutely no calories, yet it can help keep you satisfied. The trick is in the timing. Drink water on an empty stomach and it will pass right through you too fast to stimulate a signal of fullness. But ingest it with your meal, and the volume and weight it adds to your meal will make you finish sooner.
Also, many times people mistake thirst for hunger. When your body is sending signals, we tend to absorb it needs food. Next time you're hungry but "should not be" try drinking a glass of water, Perrier, or herbal tea instead of reaching for a snack. It may be just what you need.
Breathe before you eat, breathe while you eat, and breathe after you eat. Breathing before you eat moves you away from your thoughts and worries and connects you to consciously noticing, smelling, touching, and tasting the food that is in your present moment. Breathing more fully while you are eating eggs oxygen into your body that helps digest the food. Breathe into the vibrant, welcoming, energy contained within your food. When you are breathing you are noticing your body and more able to notice when you've reached your fullness or satisfaction point. Breathing after you eat affirms yes to accepting the life and energy contained within your food.
Feeling hungry can underline your best-laid weight loss plans. By adopting a few smart strategies listed above, you can make it through those moments of hunger-or prevent them from occurring in the first place.