To lose weight, you’ve got to burn more calories than you consume. The concept is simple, but putting it into practice isn’t easy for most people. The crux of this weight-loss dilemma is hunger. Most people have a hard time resisting the urge to eat when they’re hungry, but losing weight almost invariably involves being hungry occasionally.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep hunger to a minimum when you’re losing weight. Your stomach will probably still growl now and then, but by making smart food choices and timing your meals well, you can cut down on the hunger that results from reducing your food intake.
Drink Calorie-Free Liquids
Water, black coffee, and tea are your friends when you’re cutting back on calories. They fill you up, hydrate you, and won’t increase your calorie count for the day.
Hunger pangs are often a sign of dehydration, not an indication that you need to eat, so drinking plenty of liquids is your first line of defense against a growling stomach. A hot cup of tea or a tall glass of ice water in the afternoon can also distract you from snacking.
Diet soda isn’t as good for you as tea, coffee, or water because of the artificial sweeteners it contains, but if you’re not ready to give up soda yet, diet soda is a better choice than regular – or better yet, switch to sparkling water.
Focus On Fiber
Foods that are high in fiber take up a lot of room in your stomach, making you feel fuller faster. Since your body can’t break fiber down, fiber-rich foods also take a long time to digest. This has two benefits: it keeps you feeling satisfied for longer after eating and it ensures your blood sugar stays stable, meaning that you’ll have fewer hunger pangs and cravings later on.
Eat Your Veggies
Vegetables come in an appealing rainbow of colors, can be cooked and seasoned to suit any taste, and contain lots of nutrients your body needs. They are also almost all low in calories and high in fiber. If you want to be able to eat a lot of food without blowing your calorie limit for the day, vegetables are the way to go.
Be adventurous when adding vegetables to your diet – try adding finely chopped onions, greens, or carrots to casseroles or pasta dishes, combining different veggies in stir-fries, or experimenting with different combinations of greens and toppings in salads.
Just make sure that you focus on fibrous vegetables and don’t go crazy with starchy ones, like potatoes. While starchy vegetables are still good for you, they contain more calories than fibrous veggies and can spike your blood sugar if you eat too much of them, making you feel hungrier later.
Add Healthy Fat To Your Diet
Contrary to what you might think, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat is an important nutrient that your body needs, and it promotes satiety, which is important when you’re trying to lose weight.
Fatty foods tend to be high in calories, but they keep you fuller longer than low-fat foods, so you’ll be less tempted to snack throughout the day. Make sure to choose foods with the right kind of fat, though – fried, greasy foods contain a lot of fat, but they won’t do much to help you lose weight.
Add some olive oil to your salad, spread avocado on your toast, or enjoy a small handful of almonds to enjoy the delicious benefits of healthy fats.
Experiment With Timing Your Meals
If you tend to get hungry often, you might find it easiest to divide your calorie allotment into five or six small meals that you space out through the day. If you’re never hungry in the morning, don’t force yourself to eat breakfast – try saving all your calories for a bigger lunch and dinner.
Everyone’s body responds to food and hunger differently, so experiment with the timing and spacing of your meals to see what works best for you.
Adjust Your Thoughts
If you expect to feel hungry and miserable all the time when you’re trying to lose weight, you probably will. On the other hand, if you focus on how much you enjoy the fresh, delicious foods you’re choosing and how good you feel when you’re eating a nutritious, reasonable diet, you’ll feel like you’re doing yourself a favor by eating well, not depriving yourself.
When you get hungry, remember that it’s a normal part of losing weight. Remind yourself of your long-term goals, and you’ll realize that you are stronger than a little bit of hunger. When you’re focused on what you ultimately want instead of what you want right now, it’s easier to ignore the vending machine down the hallway or the stale donuts in the office break room.
Feeling hungry isn’t much fun for most people, but it’s an inevitable side effect of losing weight. To reach your goal weight successfully, it’s important to make peace with a little bit of hunger and adopt strategies that maximize the satisfaction you get from your food.
Eating high-fiber foods, healthy fats, and plenty of veggies can keep you fuller longer, make your meals more filling, and help you achieve your weight-loss goals while keeping your hunger to a minimum.