Long ago I wrote a post on why you shouldn’t really try to supress your hunger but rather implement some strategies that help your body work efficiently and achieve maximum satiety, as well as keep hunger under control, because hunger is really just a tool that the body uses to let us know that it needs more fuel. There are many things and processes that affect hunger and satiety, from your diet to hormones, and both depend on many other factors, like sleep, lifestyle choices, etc.
Recently, I decided to translate that post into Russian and found that the post no longer satisfied me in the quantity and quality of information provided. It only slightly covered each subject and I feel like it lacks any depth, so I started to add more and more and realised that I cannot squeeze all of the information in one post anymore. This is how the series on smart weight loss without hunger started, and I am now writing it in English for my English-speaking readers. Let’s start.
It is no news today that strict dieting and starvation are not the ways to lose weight. They might help in the short term, but they can severely affect your health in the long run. But there are still a lot of people who believe that the less they eat, the leaner they will become. For the sake of the looks, some people think that skipping dinner is a good idea, while others skip breakfast. The best one yet is skipping dinner so that they could eat a muffin and overeat. But oftentimes overeating is not the problems. It’s not how much you eat, but what you eat that matters. By not eating enough you could lose a pound or two, but you will just as easily gain them back as soon as you up your food intake. Suppressing your hunger or going against it and not eating when you feel that you need to will not make you slim, but it can effectively lead you to binging.
No need to encourage yourself to be strong and wait till the next meal (or even worse, next day), no matter that your stomach hurts and you start getting dizzy spells. Hunger is the body’s way to tell you that you need energy, and the only way to stop it is to eat. And, of course, the hungrier you are at meal time, the more likely you are to overeat. If you avoid that way-too-hungry feeling and eat at the first sign of eat, it will be much easier to stop eating when you’ve had enough.
Some people also seem to get stuck on 1200 kcal a day. They think that is the perfect number that will make them lose weight. In reality, unless you are a very tiny person, 1200 kcal is what you need in a day for your body to function only. These 1200 calories are required for your brain to regulate all the processes in the body, including metabolism. If you do not eat enough, the metabolism will shut down and make it almost impossible for you to lose weight. To live your life to the fullest you have to consume over 1200 kcal every day, in ideal, just about 250 to 300 calories less than you would require for weight maintenance. The amount of calories required for your weight maintenance will depend on your gender, age, height, current weight and activity level.
Another thing about the calories is that they are not all created equal. There is a huge difference between eating 1000 calories from McDonalds and 1000 calories from fruit and veg, and I will discuss this in detail in the next post, but for now forget the number 1200 and focus on what’s coming next.
And one last thing before we go: there are 2 ways to lose weight – diet and exercise. But both ways are quite limited in their abilities to sustain your weight loss, and sooner or later you will hit a plateau, so to achieve the best results you really need to complement one withthe other. Losing weight through diet only is not the smart way to lose weight. It’s not only the pounds on your scales that matter. A body to be healthy requires healthy and toned muscles. Muscles are the key to life, they make the movement possible, they let us use the body the way we want. If you don’t train your muscles they get atrophied – weak, or wasted. This will not only give you an unhealthy thin look, it will also put a strain on your joints, increasing the risk of injuries, especially the knees. So to lose weight successfully, you do need both diet and exercise. Today we will talk about diet.
The Rule No. 1 of the Smart Weight Loss:
- Eat well and regularly.
You might say it is easier said than done, but that’s not true. Eating right is not difficult when you have a plan and know exactly what to do.
- Ideally, you should eat about 5-6 meals a day: 3 main meals + 2-3 snacks.
This is a common problem for working people and students, because they don’t have enough time to space their meals correctly, but it also happens in those who stay at home. Many people tend to skip breakfast, either because they are not hungry (after a late night meal), or because they don’t have time. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It has to be quite rich in calories and nutrients to keep you full till lunch or at least a mid-morning snack. According to several studies, those who eat breakfast regularly tend to lose weight better and faster and also make better food choices and eat less throughout the day.
It is important to pay attention to what you eat for breakfast. A toast or a scone with butter and jam is NOT a good breakfast choice. It could be anything but toast. Porridge – oat, millet, buckwheat – you name it, eggs – scrambled, boiled, poached; wholemeal bread, rice cakes, whole wheat minimally processed crackers, fruit and vegetables – better in combination to get all the macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fat, and the micronutrients as well – vitamins and minerals. Add nuts and seeds to your porridge to get some extra protein and fat if you’re not a fan of eggs.
For a snack you can have a fruit salad, an energy bar made of dried fruit, figs, dates, nuts and seeds. You can make them yourself, it’s even better that way. Other options include cottage cheese, natural yogurt – add fruit or muesli to it, vegetables with hummus or yogurt. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t forget about balancing carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Try to include all of them in every meal.
The same goes for lunch. Balance is the key. Choose whole grains, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta or buckwheat or starchy vegetables like sweet potato as the main source of carbohydrates, Add to it a good serving of vegetables, fresh on their own or in a salad, steamed or baked, and a moderate serving of protein. A good rule is to use your hand as a guide:
One serving of starchy carbohydrates equals the size of your fist.
One serving of non-starchy vegetables equals the size of two cupped hands.
One serving of protein equals the size of your palm without the fingers.
One serving of fat equals the size of your thumb.
Otherwise, you could visually divide your plate in sections. 50% of your plate should go to vegetables, 25-30% should go to starchy carbohydrates, and 20-25% of your plate should go to protein. Add to it 1 tsp of fat.
If you are hungry in between the meals, have a small snack, just enough to keep you till the next meal. You should be hungry at the mealtimes but not starving. The hungrier you are at a meal time, the likelier you are to overeat. But please do not eat crisps and chocolate for your snack, they contain a lot of energy but little nutrients. It’s very easy to overindulge on them and stave off your progress. Choose products that are natural and not sweet, when possible.
No matter how much you ate during the day, do not skip dinner. Just make it light: skip the starches and get a salad with fish, shrimp, lentils or beans – something that is easier to digest. Steaming or baking is best. Do not eat very late and too much for dinner or you won’t be hungry in the morning, plus your body will not get the much needed rest trying to digest the food. Leave about 2 to 3 hours between the last meal and bedtime. If you suddenly find yourself hungry before bed, snack on something very light and protein-rich, not rich in fat or carbohydrates. Yogurt would be a good example. Check out Raita – an Indian condiment made of natural yogurt with thinly diced or grated cucumber and mint or dill, and sometimes chilli.
So, to it up for today: Eating well is not hard, it just takes a little planning and preferring homemade foods to take outs or store-bought.