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Does losing weight mean being hungry all the time?

The photo above was sent to me a few weeks ago by one of our nutrition accountability clients who is working on establishing a few food-based habits to work toward weight loss. One habit, identified by the client himself, is to prep an entire meal, then sit down and eat it instead of grazing throughout the kitchen and eating whatever. He noticed that when he grazed he ended up eating unhealthy foods, often felt unwell after mealtimes, and wasn’t satisfied for long before feeling hungry again.

He sent the photo after a truly successful meal prep/meal and I thought, “My Lord, that looks MUCH more satisfying than half a bag of chips a bunch of random stuff from the front of the fridge.”

Diet culture has taught for years that losing weight is about denial. Hungry? Drink water…chew ice…make coffee…chew gum, but for heaven’s sake don’t do the one thing your body is looking for…CONSUME FOOD.

You’ve heard these myths and so have I, but at Shores Fitness & Nutrition we are in the business of the health have’s, not the have not’s. We believe that to make yourself healthier and happier, you have to consume the things that support that mission in the form of food, water, relationships, technology, mindset, and messaging.

The path to losing weight, getting healthier, getting stronger…whatever your goals may be…should not be paved with persistent hunger. Here’s how to avoid it:

Know How Much Food Your Body Actually Needs

As humans, we tend toward a bit of extremism when we really want to achieve something, and it can lead us into dangerous territory when it comes to assuming how much or little we need to eat to achieve a healthy body weight. The focus on better health and weight loss should be better quality food, not massive levels of restriction in it’s quantity. The best approach is a balance of both.

Let’s consider this scenario… your Base Metabolic Rate BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to live and function each day. If your BMR is 1800 calories per day, it means that it utilizes that many calories each day for basic functions When you decide to exercise in your pursuit of better fitness, you burn approximately 200-400 calories that day. If you then consume only 1200 calories per day of food, that scenario puts you at a caloric deficit of 800-1000 a day. How are you going to feel after one day of that or even several? You will be irritable, sluggish, unable to maintain healthy levels of exercise, unfocused, and sleeping poorly. You will be undernourished and your body will be begging you for attention.

If you are wondering about your Base Metabolic Rate, find a gym, nutritionist, or health centre near you where they run body composition monitoring. If you’d like me to run some calculations to give you a rough estimation of your numbers free of charge and without leaving home, I’d be happy to. Send an email to info@shoresfitness.com. It’s important to know your BMR so that you can stay in an appropriate deficit that will allow for weight loss at a steady and healthy weight, and with no negative side effects.

Include Macros At Each Meal

What’s a macro? Macronutrients are types of food that your body needs in large amounts in order to function at it’s best. Though we hear most often about three of the macros – protein, carbohydrates, and fats – there are actually 5 with the inclusion of fibre and water.

The macronutrients work together to help your body utilize the foods you eat for energy and to feel satisfied. Fats assist with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Pairing fats with carbohydrates high in these vitamins (like sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and spinach) helps your body to make the most of the vitamins you consume. Carbohydrates, often villainized, actually help your body absorb the amino acids in protein for muscle building.

A simple way to know if you are eating the macronutrients in proper proportions at each meal is to simply look at your plate. Aim to make your plate:
– 1/2 a non-starchy vegetable (like spinach, beans, or eggplant)
– 1/4 protein (meat like beef, chicken or pork, seafood, or non-meat sources like soy products)
– 1/4 whole grains (which will also include fibre)
Pop a glass of water on the side and you are in for a nutritious meal that will keep you satisfied for hours!

Slow Down & Eat

Eating mindfully may seem like another dieting brain trick, but this idea is really about engaging with and enjoying your food, not denying yourself it. Mindful eating prompts you to just eat at mealtimes and to use the lack of distraction to focus on your food. When you aren’t eating on the run or in front of a TV, you can enjoy how food tastes, think about what you enjoy about it, and take some mental notes on how certain foods make you feel.

Eating more slowly also allows your brain and body to stay in step with one another. You will be more aware of your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues and more likely to avoid the uncomfortable physical effects of overeating like upset stomach, nausea, and bloating.

Almost all changes that we commit to in life lead to a level of discomfort as we adjust to a new kind of normal. It’s usually the friction of the old habits that we’ve learned to depend on and the new habits that fit a bit like an itchy sweater at first. Discomfort in life is okay, it’s to be embraced and it helps us grow. What we don’t need to embrace, though, to be healthy and whole individuals is a level of extreme denial that leaves us hungry for food, experiences, and relationships. As you embark on your fitness journey, we’d implore you to nourish yourself so that fitness can be about more than just a number on a scale.

If you’d like to start (or restart) pursuing better health and need guidance on where to start and how to get to your goals, we’re here for you no matter where you are. Reach out to us at (226) 784-2321 or click here to book a time to talk with us about food and fitness.

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