In 2014, I did my last competitive bodybuilding show and placed 5th out of 12 participants. Some may have been upset with that, but I wasn't. The other competitors looked excellent, and I was pleased to have placed in the top 5. The prep went great, and I was the leanest I had ever been! That being said...
I dealt with some pretty extreme hunger throughout the process, and it only got worse as I lost more fat. The craziest thing was that I was still hungry after eating a good size meal. At one point, I ate 8 cups of broccoli, and I was still starving. Even after my competition, I couldn't stop myself. I ended up eating an entire large pizza by myself and felt miserable. I felt like I was losing control, and I couldn't stop thinking about food.
Increased hunger is a natural response to fat loss, and your body has natural defense mechanisms to protect you from starvation. Essentially, when your body recognizes you are losing fat, it starts to adjust your hunger and fullness hormones. This can really affect your ability to stick to your diet and can impact your results.
Below, I am going to go over a few tips that might help you control your hunger so that you can continue to get great results!
Increase your protein intake
Protein is more satiating when compared to carbohydrates and fats. It has a higher thermic effect, it can help you retain muscle during fat loss, and most lean protein sources are packed with nutrients.
Science would say that if you are training and trying to lose fat, .8 grams-1.0 grams per pound of body weight of protein is an excellent place to start. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, this would equate to 160-200 grams of protein per day. Now, If this seems extreme for you, feel free to do less as this is just what would be considered "optimal."
What are the best sources of protein? My Favorite sources are below:
Eat low cal, high volume foods
One of the best ways to curb hunger is to eat foods that have very few calories. Eating lower-calorie foods will allow you to feel like you are eating large amounts of food while staying under your calorie budget. One other key benefit is that you can burn up time snacking on these foods in the evening as many people struggle between dinner and bedtime.
Getting more sleep
Check this out. A lack of sleep can increase hunger and cravings. When you sleep less, your body wants to make up for it with more food, and that is why you should focus on sleeping more. Even if you only sleep for an extra 30 minutes per day, it is worth it. Thirty minutes a day equals around 23 extra nights of sleep per year! Crazy, right?
There is another benefit of more sleep. It shortens the time frame you have to eat. If someone only gets 6 hours of sleep, they have 18 hours available to eat versus someone who gets 8 hours of sleep only has 16 ours. We all know how much damage that can be done within a 2-hour eating window! This is a huge deal and something that you should consider.
Lastly, intermittent fasting can be helpful for some people with their hunger and cravings. Generally speaking, Intermittent fasting refers to having an 8 hour eating window which is typically done from 12 pm to 8 pm.
By fasting, you are allowed to have larger meals later in the day. This works exceptionally well if you don't get that hungry in the morning. So in that case, you take advantage of that and you push more calories into the latter part of the day. For people who struggle with snacking, skipping breakfast will give you extra calories so that you CAN snack if you want.
So, if you are dealing with nighttime hunger and cravings, this could be an excellent fit for you. Most people have a lot of motivation early in the day and it wanes as the day goes on. So, even though you might have hunger in the morning, it should be easier to avoid food then when compared to the evening when you are sitting around watching tv.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to deal with hunger from day to day. Hunger is inevitable during fat loss, as that is a normal protective response in the body. Just make sure to put some of these tips to good use, and you will significantly improve your fat loss and adherence to your nutrition plan.
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