Fit Family: It’s OK to Be Hungry When Losing Weight

by Mike Levinson

weightlossWith many people trying to lose weight, I like to focus on the positive, such as what to eat rather than what not to eat and what to do rather than what not to do. But after spending time with many fitness minded people, they often tell me, “I didn’t know what I was doing wrong before; now I get it.” I’m always happy to hear that, because it means they’re not just following my advice, they’re understanding the logic behind my recommendations. That’s key because when you’re in the dark, you’ll just unknowingly perpetuate the patterns that work against you. That said, one of the most common missteps I see that keeps people from getting results is being afraid to get hungry.
Intense hunger, when you can’t concentrate, you’re irritable and you want to shove the first thing you see into your mouth doesn’t feel good. But mild to moderate hunger is normal, and it’s something you should be experiencing about four times a day. It’s a signal that your metabolism is in gear, that you’ve used up or burned off the previous meal and that it’s time to refuel for the hours ahead.

Many people eat on a schedule, which is great, but they’re never really hungry, which is an indication that they’re eating too much. And a little extra food day after day can be what’s causing them to hang onto those unwanted pounds. In other words, even when you’re eating super healthy meals in the right balance at the right times if you’re never hungry, you’re probably eating more than your body needs to reach and maintain your ideal weight

If this sounds familiar, try an experiment: Eat a balanced breakfast, like a small bowl of cooked oats topped with fresh fruit and nuts with a glass of skim or soy milk; then pay attention to how long it takes you to feel physical sensations of hunger. You shouldn’t be starving, but you should feel a little stomach rumbling. If you’re still not hungry five hours after the meal, try cutting back a little on your portions the next day. The goal is to establish a steady hunger/fullness pattern–you want to be hungry when you wake up, then mildly hungry every three to five hours after that. Hunger is kind of like your body’s built-in meter for keeping you in balance–embrace it (again not intense but mild to moderate hunger) and use it to your advantage. 


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