I’ve been working as a nutrition coach for over three years now. Of course, everyone comes to me from different backgrounds and with different goals. But more often that not, I get the same question. People want to know how to not be hungry all the time.
My number one goal when working with anyone is to help them find the joy in food. Part of that includes…actually eating food! And it makes me sad to say that, in general, people aren’t eating enough.
Or – in other cases – their caloric intake is really high, but the actual nutrients they’re consuming is really low. This is usually due to the fact that their diet is made up of the typical foods that the Standard American Diet is known for. Processed, refined, high-sugar, high-fat foods…
So one of my first strategies in helping people figure out this problem is to make sure they know just how much food they should be eating. And what types of foods should end up on their plate.
I also try to educate on what components make up the foods they put into their mouth. We talk all about the importance of knowing the macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These nutrients play a HUGE role in keeping your body feeling satisfied and functioning properly.
There are also micronutrients that are just as important. Your body doesn’t need these in such big amounts as the macronutrients – but even so, they are essential to proper health.
By starting the conversation about hunger here, it allows my clients to have an understanding at *why* it’s so important to be aware of the foods that need to make up your daily diet.
If you’ve ever wondered the formula for how to not be hungry, I’m going to use today’s post to run through some of the major points I talk through with my clients.
Disclaimer: Nutrition is incredibly individualized so these points are very general. The best way to figure out exactly what works for you is to work with an experienced coach who can guide you through the process.
Table of Contents
Eat Enough Food
Like I said before, more often than not my clients are not eating enough real foods. So, of course, if you’re not feeding your body the food it needs, your body is going to respond with those hunger cues. Hunger pangs, growling stomach, slight headache, etc.
The first lesson I give my clients is to eat balanced meals as often as you can. What exactly do I mean by “balanced?”
Balanced means that you have a source of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat, and at least 1 cup of veggies on your plate. If you stick to this plan, you’ll ensure that you’re generally getting all the nutrients you need to feel your best.
Here are some of my favorite sources of each macronutrient…
Potatoes, all fruits, white rice, parsnips, beets, butternut squash, acorn squash, lentils, beans (not paleo…)
Eat More Protein
Get to know how much protein you need to eat in a day. A good starting place is at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. If you’re active or exercise regularly, that total needs to be closer to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Of course, the best way to make sure you’re hitting this goal is to weigh, measure, and log the protein you eat. For some people, this could be a realistic practice to implement into your day-to-day routine. You’ll need a food scale and your favorite food tracking app. I like Cronometer.
For others, just estimating protein portions could be a great starting point. For women, try to eat a palm-sized protein portion every meal. For men, two palm-sized portions.
Protein is important for so many functions within our body. First off, it helps with satiety – or that feeling of being satisfied. Protein is also the building block of muscles. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating enough protein can also make sure that you don’t lose all your muscle in the process.
Of course, buy the best quality protein that your budget allows. Opting for grass-fed and finished, pasture raised, wild-caught, etc.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber is a nutrient found in plant-based food that is indigestible by the human body. Think fruits and vegetables – these are loaded with the nutrient.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Both types are necessary for healthy digestion.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel. This can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and helping control blood sugar.
Insoluble fiber keeps things moving through our digestive system. If you struggle with irregular bowel movements or constipation, chances are you need to up your fiber intake.
The recommended intake for women is at least 25 grams a day and men 38 grams. To reach this goal, you’ll have to make a concerted effort to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. This great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they take up a lot of room in your stomach.
If you eat two cups of vegetables with every meal and 1-3 pieces of fruit a day, you’ll do well to meet your fiber goal. BUT ALSO – chances are you won’t be hungry – because let’s be honest…that’s a lot of food.
You already know that your water intake is important. But most of the time it’s a lot easier said than actually done. The standard recommendation is 64 ounces a day – or 8 glasses.
That’s a good place to start – especially if your water intake is practically non-existent. But in an ideal world, your intake is closer to 1/2 of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. That means if you’re a 200-pound man, you’re drinking closer to 100 ounces of water on the daily.
Besides the obvious benefits of drinking water that you’ve heard about since you were 6 years old (helps you feel fuller, helps curbs cravings, helps carry nutrients to different parts of your body), water is going to be important for another major reason.
If you’re significantly increasing your fiber intake by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, you will most definitely want to make sure you’re drinking enough water to keep things moving through your system.
Insoluble fiber traps water from your digestive tract to ensure that waste keeps moving. If there’s not much water to trap, you’ll more than likely end up constipated.
So…moral of the story. Drink your water. Stay hydrated. Fight off hunger.
Side note – please consider buying a reusable water bottle. My favorite is my Hydro Flask. I take it everywhere. Anything you can personally do to cut down on your single-use plastics, the better off our Earth will be.
Check Your Sleep
Sleep is so important for so many reasons. But when specifically talking about hunger, sleep can directly affect this through our hormones.
Two hunger hormones – ghrelin and leptin – are impacted by your sleep…or lack thereof.
A quick hormone refresher for you. Ghrelin is the hormone that kicks your appetite into action. Leptin does the opposite. When you don’t get enough sleep, the level of ghrelin in your body goes up – therefore making you hungry. Leptin then decreases, so it’s a lose-lose all the way around.
But, if you’ve ever been sleep deprived, you also know that all those snacks that you may secretly love but aren’t exactly the healthiest start to sound so good. It’s not uncommon to crush some cookies, chips, candy bars… whatever is calorie-heavy and low in actual nutrients.
This is because there’s a chemical reaction going on in your body. Sleep deprivation seems to trigger the endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that is impacted by marijuana – and that makes eating foods feel so satisfying.
So – if you’ve considered all of the points above and you’re still feeling hungry, take a look at your sleep. Aim for *quality* sleep – at least 8 hours a night. Check out our article if you want to learn more about sleep and how to get some high-quality zzz’s.
Life Is Too Short
Life is too short to be hungry all of the time. If you’re a person who frequently finds themselves facing this problem, start with these simple tips.
Again, nutrition and health is incredibly individualized, so it may take some experimenting to find out exactly what works for you. But this is a great place to start!
If you liked this article, check out these others:
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