Watching portions and cutting calories is one way people find success when trying to lose weight. Too bad hunger kicks into high gear, making eating less so miserable, many people just throw in the towel. It is possible to eat fewer calories and not feel hungry, so if you're trying to slim down, follow these tips.
- Eat enough: You total daily calories depend on your goal weight and your activity level, so while it's good to strictly count calories, make sure your total daily calories is enough and doesn't dip below 1,200. Keep your hunger in check all day by eating 300 to 400 calories at each meal, and throw in a 150-calorie snack or two between meals to satiate your hunger.
- Eat these three things: When you sit down to eat meal, be sure to include protein to satiate hunger, carbs to sustain your energy, and fats to help you feel fuller longer. Go for 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal, and include complex carbs that will offer fiber to make you feel even more full. If you snack, avoid crackers or baked goods, and be sure to include a combo of at least two of protein, carbs, and fat.
- Don't be too restrictive: No carbs, no sugar, no bread, no alcohol, no fun! Certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition said the biggest mistake she sees people making when dealing with hunger and trying to drop pounds is "cutting out too much." If your diet is too restrictive, it won't work for the long-term. You'll feel so hungry and deprived that you can't sustain it. Include some of the foods you crave throughout the day, but enjoy them in moderation so you're still able to lose weight.
- Drink water: While there's no need to go overboard and drink a gallon of water a day, since thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, keep a reusable water bottle close by and sip on water throughout your day. Before each meal, drink a full glass of water to help fill you up. If plain water isn't your thing, add lemon or grapefruit slices, sip on tea, or go for sparkling water.
- Increase your fiber: Take a look at your fiber intake and make sure you're getting at least 25 grams. Fiber not only prevents constipation and bloating, but it makes you feel full longer, satiating hunger. Add chia seeds or flaxmeal to smoothies; add berries, beans, and nuts to salads; and spread avocado on your toast instead of peanut butter.
- Slow down: Make mindfulness a habit, eat slower, and take the time to savor each bite so both your brain and your stomach have time to register that you're full. Leslie even said to take a 10-minute break halfway through your meal to assess whether you should continue eating more or be done.
- Ditch sugar: When you eat sugar, it makes you crave it even more, so if you find that you're hungry for sweets, cut down on your sugar intake. It won't be fun the first week or two, but once your body becomes less addicted, your cravings will subside and you'll feel less hungry for baked goods, chocolate, and ice cream — trust us!
- Get enough sleep: Sleep affects the levels of leptin, the hunger-regulating hormone that helps your body realize it's full and also affects ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Not getting enough zzz's lowers your levels of leptin while raising your levels of ghrelin, which can increase hunger and make you eat more. Get to bed early enough to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep, and this will help curb your appetite.