How To Avoid Feeling Hungry While Dieting
Dieting sucks. You know it. And I know it. So let’s not try to kid ourselves. But let’s be more specific. Feeling hungry sucks the most, right?
For me, feeling hungry is akin to someone grabbing an electric whisk and churning up my innards several times a day.
Ok. So that was probably a little more graphic than I’d imagined. But you get the drift. Basically, I hate being hungry.
And I’m sure you’re giving me a casual nod in vehement agreement. Because you’ve been there. Hell, maybe you’re there right now.
Balls deep in a calorie deficit with your brain whispering, “You’re hungry. You’re hungry. Eat motherfucker. Eat.”
It’s like your brain became detached from your soul overnight. And it’s turned into an anti-dieting maniacal overlord. The war is on.
Every waking moment revolves around food.
Either you’re eating, or thinking about eating. It’s a never ending cycle.
But it doesn’t stop there. As soon as you decide to switch to a calorie deficit it’s like the food knows.
Tapping your new calorie target into MyFitnessPal seems to send signals to the rest of the world. They know you’re on a diet, so goddamn it they’re gonna tempt you at every conceivable opportunity.
Suddenly, the smell of freshly baked goods is stronger than ever before.
Walking down the street you start to zero in on what other people are eating. And like a Nutritional Rain Man you’re rapidly guesstimating calories to see if you can make a slice of pizza fit your plan.
Simply put, being hungry sucks. And it sucks fucking HARD. Like a cheap hooker looking to impress their next trick.
So how the fuck do you avoid feeling so hungry all the time?
The good news is your life doesn’t have to be a calorie deprived food hell. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m going to help you get there.
Let me start off by saying you’re not alone. Feeling hungry goes hand in hand with dieting. Code of the road.
Whether you’re a pro bodybuilder getting shredded for the stage, or 40 year old Mum trying to shed a few pounds, you share a common enemy.
The tips you’ll discover in a few minutes where developed out of sheer personal necessity. And they’re going to have the desired effect, just as they have for coaching clients I’ve helped in the past.
So before your brain convinces you to dig into that tub of ice cream, grab a pen and paper and get ready to take some notes.
Avoid Feeling Hungry By Focusing On Your Macros:
No doubt your efforts to blunt hunger started at the same place as your attempts to answer any of life’s questions. Google.
After finishing your second triple chocolate muffin of the day, you frantically start searching for a solution.
And what came up?
A few crackpot remedies that sound like rejects from a witch’s cookbook.
“Take eye of newt, pubes of virgin, and mix with the butt sweat of McDonalds cashier.”
Either that, or it’s some weird “life hack” from a grass munching lunatic. “Eat two raw whole cabbages a day and never feel hungry again.”
Like that’s something normal people do.
And yeah, I probably never will feel hungry again after gassing myself out with 3 hours on the shitter every day. Trust me, if you hear that sort of advice, you know you’ve got a moron on your hands.
And then there’s the logical, yet equally generic, and boring advice you hear all the time.
“Drink a glass of water.”
Ok. I get it. The water thing has some basis in fact. But how many glasses of water can you actually drink before you end up either drowning or pissing yourself?
So your journey to the dieting promised land starts by looking at macros.
And first up, we have every bro’s favourite, protein!
If this isn’t your first rodeo you’ve heard me extol the benefits of protein many times before. So I’ve got no intention of covering old ground here.
But we are going to cover the highlights. The sexy bits if you will.
Protein is pretty badass. Protein helps build the gains. Basically it’s badass because if gives you a badass. But it has its advantages when dieting too.
It’ll help spare muscle, so you won’t lose any of those precious gains you worked so hard for. On top of that, it has the highest thermic effect of all macros.
“Now what the fuck does that mean?” I hear you cry.
All it means is that your metabolic rate will increase marginally with a higher protein diet. Because digesting protein requires the body to utilise more energy compared to other macros. And that means more calories burned.
So in practical terms 100 calories of chicken is going to take more energy to digest than 100 calories of Haribo.
But please don’t rush off and consume an all protein diet. That would be moronic. Simply, aim for 1.8–2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight.
If you want to have more, that’s cool. And if you want to have less, or find it difficult to consume that much, that’s cool too. Do what works for you, just favour a higher protein diet.
Lastly, protein has one other distinct benefit. It’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer. Or as we like to call it in the industry, satiated. Yes we like to pontificate and appear posh. It helps to rid ourselves of the meathead stereotype. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it does the trick or not!
So you see how protein rules over the macro kingdom. Now let’s take a look at what you should be adding to your plate every day.
High Protein Foods:
The classic. The go to protein source for almost everyone (unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian). And it’s for good reason. Relatively low in calorie, chock full of protein, and not much else. So it’s pretty easy to fit in your plan every day.
But it can be fucking boring, right?
Boiled, bland chicken doesn’t exactly fill you with excitement and fervour when it comes to meal time.
Taste fatigue might be a good thing…
But there’s a double edged sword to consider here. Foods that are pretty bland have a weirdly more satiating effect than foods that taste amazing.
Think about it like this. If I put a couple of dry chicken breasts in front of you, it wouldn’t take long for you to say, “Simon. I’m full I’ve had enough.” They’re dry, difficult to eat and take quite a bit of chewing. But just before you gave up, what about if I smothered them in your favourite chilli sauce? Do you think you’d be able to eat a little more? Of course you would.
So yes, you want to have food that taste good. But beware. If it tastes TOO good you might want more, and more, and more!
0% Fat Greek Yogurt
Another classic. There’s the brand so hard to pronounce they break it down phonetically on the tub. But whether you pronounce it Fage, Vage, or Fay-yeh it’s a good choice for protein. And I should add, other brands are available. I’m not sponsored by Fage. Although, I wouldn’t say no.
Some crazy people out there aren’t a fan of the deliciousness that is Greek yogurt, So if that’s you, here’s a little trick. Add a little protein powder for even more protein and an awesome flavour kick. But don’t stop there my friend, add some fruit, a little sugar free syrup, and smear it all over your naked body. Well maybe not the last bit, but do the rest and you’ve got a dessert ready to rival your favourite ice cream.
Now I’m not being a fish racist. I’m all about equal opportunities for fish. But there are some distinct advantages to white fish, ie, cod, haddock, and the like.
Mainly because of the fact it’s lower in calorie than the likes of salmon, which is higher fat. But don’t get me wrong, salmon is great and you should include it in your diet if you like it. After all, you need those important Omega 3’s. But fitting it in regularly can be difficult. And smaller portions aren’t great for hunger.
This stuff is the protein equivalent of Marmite. Either you think it looks like bleached vomit, or you love it. Either way, you can’t argue it’s a good protein source. And a bit like greek yogurt, it’s pretty versatile. Dump a couple of blobs in a jacket potato and you’ll have a pretty decent meal.
Or maybe add some flavour to it and use it as a dip. It might even be a more palatable way to munch your way through that entire fucking cabbage.
An obvious choice, right? Or is it? I’ve included it in the list as I thought you’d only ask if I didn’t. But here’s the thing. A protein shake on its own probably won’t be that filling. Liquid calories rarely are. So if you need to top up your protein intake for the day, grab a convenient shake after training, or simply turn your greek yogurt into the dessert of champions then go for it. But it might not be the best idea to rely on a shake to stop you feeling hungry.
Lastly on our protein list we’re talking eggs. Now there’s nothing wrong with egg yolks, despite what some people would have you believe. But in this example we are just sticking to egg whites. And that’s because I want you to be eating as much food as possible. Because more food when you’re feeling hungry is a good thing, right?
So egg whites are going to be your best option. Low calorie, high in protein, and versatile. Whip yourself up an egg white omelette, flavoured with some onion, pepper, maybe a little chicken and you’ll have a great tasting, not to mention filling meal.
Now before we move on to carbs, the vegans amongst you might be feeling a little miffed. And I get it, there’s no options for you. But there’s good reason for that. And it’s this. I love you, but I don’t know enough about the satiating effects of vegan protein sources. So I’d feel like a bit of a dick for recommending some.
Yes. You can have carbs. They are not the devil’s work and they will not make you fat.
But let’s get over that one. Again, we’re not here to back over all that. Just know I’m right.
When it comes to helping you refrain from eating every cookie in the jar, carbs play a role too. But they are complex (no pun intended).
Some carbs are great for helping you stay full, others could be the worst choice in human history. And it’s not really anything to do with Glycemic Index. Allow me to fill you in my pasta loving friend.
Generally speaking you want to aiming for carbs lower in calorie, higher in fibre, and moderately tasty. Sounds boring as fuck, right?
But bear with me. Because don’t forget, not feeling hungry is the main priority here. And that’s likely to mean a few compromises.
Let’s face facts. If you’re struggling with hunger, eating 12 donuts is not a good solution to the problem. Even if they do fit your calories.
Now you might not think it but bread is pretty calorie dense. Even the wholegrain variety with all the seeds on the outside that get lodged in your poo. So it’s very easy for you to overeat on a relative small quantity.
In this case, you’re better off sticking to water-rich carbs like potato, sweet potato, and oats. So for now, limit the amount of bread (especially white bread) in your diet.
Another interesting point is white potatoes are one of the most satiating foods on the planet. So keeping those in your diet is never a bad thing.
And for all the oat lovers out there, here’s a top tip I picked up from Mr. Jordan Syatt. I think you’ll love it. “If you want to make it as thick and voluminous as possible, I suggest using 1.5x the recommended amount of water and microwaving it for at least double the recommended time-frame. Stir the oatmeal and continue heating until the oats soak up all the water.”
Considering the average serving of oats made with water is less than 150 calories, following that tip is gonna be a game changer for you. But don’t thank me. Thank the lovely Mr. Syatt.
Your Mum always told you to eat your veg. Maybe with some bollocks tale like carrots will help you see in the dark. Or spinach will make you strong like Popeye.
And although those old wives tales were made up nonsense, eating your veg is definitely a damn good idea. Not just for all the vitamins and minerals. But to stop you from moaning about feeling hungry all the time too.
Low calorie vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, cucumber, lettuce, and even fucking cabbage are good choices. Why? Because you can eat a fuck ton of them for very few calories. And that very eloquent description basically means lots of low calorie veg takes up a large amount of real estate in your stomach, helping you feel full.
And the fact the calorie content is low means you’ve got more calories to play with for the rest of the day.
So fill half your plate with veg or munch on a bag of carrots all day. Easy.
But remember, they may be low calorie, but those calories still count. So don’t be the weirdo who puts themselves in a calorie surplus by not accounting for the 4kg of carrots they’re eating every day.
Fruits might be something you thought you should stay well away from. After all, think of the sugars. Oh my God not the sugars.
Surely, being so high on the glycemic index and full of sugar they’re the worst option, right?
Well, no. The fitness industry loves a little scaremongering, so now’s a good time to bust a few myths. Fruit isn’t bad for you. Shock horror.
But there are fruits that are better for helping you feel less hungry than others. Take my favourite example, which I’ve used before. The humble watermelon.
Watermelon is awesome when you’re on a diet.. Why? Because 300g of the stuff is about 90 calories. Sound good. But it’s even more awesome when you compare it to something like sultanas. Those shrivelled up things are 90 calories for a mere 30g. So that means you can have 10x as much watermelon. Just think of that in terms of stomach real estate.
Berries are also great choices too.
The moral of the story here is don’t fear fruit. Just take a look at the food labels and work several servings into your daily plan. Not only will there be less chance of you feeling hungry. But you’ll be packing in a bunch of micronutrients too.
Lastly in the macronutrient list we have fat. This is a tricky one. Because you need fat in your diet in order to be healthy. But at 9 calories per gram, they’re not great at keeping you from wanting to raid the fridge (unless you’re doing keto of course).
So my advice here is pretty simple. Don’t look specifically to high fat foods to help you feel full. You’re better off getting what you need to be healthy and looking elsewhere for your hunger fix.
Drinks are often a big factor in why people feel hungry an ultimately end up overeating. Liquid calories can be a dieters worst enemy. Because they simply don’t fill you up and won’t stop you reaching for more food.
High calorie soda and alcohol should be limited as much as possible. As should tea and coffee with added sugar. And that includes your favourite Starbucks Vanilla Macchiato. It’s stacked full of calories too. Of course, if you like these things and can make it work, great. But I’ve worked with people long enough to know, it’s not a good option for most.
So what do you do instead? What happens when your mouth is as dry as a badger’s ass? Well, here’s a few options for you.
Water being the most obvious of all. Zero calories. Boom!
If you like the taste of Coke, Pepsi, and other soda, swapping for a zero calorie version is your best bet. Ok. It might not get you all excited, but it’ll save you a hell of a lot of calories, which you can use to stop you feeling hungry,
Another little trick I’ve used with clients in the past is to switch regular milk for almond milk. This works best as a mixer for protein shakes.
Mixing a protein shake with just water is the devil’s work. It tastes rank, has a horrible consistency, and makes you want to gag. Or is that just me?
And although some shitty Netflix documentary (that should be reclassified as comedy) depicts milk as evil cow puss, in reality it’s not going to do you any harm.
But, if you want to save a few calories, a switch to some unsweetened almond milk is a good bet.
Flavourings And Dressings
The principle of dieting is pretty simple. A calorie deficit. Eat fewer calories than your body burns.
But the practicalities of making that happen aren’t always that easy. If they were there’d be no need for this article. And I wouldn’t have a job as a coach.
The seemingly innocent subject of flavourings and dressings for your food is a great example of that.
Earlier I told you about flavourings making for more palatable. More palatable food could mean you eat more of it. And we all know where that chain of events could lead you.
But on the other hand, you want your diet to taste better a mix of brick dust and tears of sorrow. So what’s the solution?
It’s not one size fits all
Truth be told, it depends… That very unhelpful, though often accurate response of many an online coach.
Your tastes, willpower, and cravings could be completely different to those of the person next to you. For example, splashing some of your favourite sauce on your dinner might not make you overeat. But look at poor Trudy. One drop of chilli sauce and she’s shovelling rice down her neck like her life depended on it.
So, to get around it, you can do a couple of things.
Option 1 is to opt for low or zero calorie sauces and dressings for your food. Zero calorie syrups provide a great substitute for sweet additives, such as honey. But be careful, because it may trigger you eat more than you expected.
Option 2 is to ask for your dressing on the side when you go restaurants and eat out. It gives you control of how much of the delicious flavouring gets added. So you can have a hint or the whole lot if you’re feeling brave and in control.
These days your options are endless. Supermarkets and supplement companies have countless syrups, dressings and sauces you can load on to your food guilt free.
The main thing is to steer clear of the calorie laden version. They’re going to eat into your precious calorie allotment and do nothing to stop you feeling hungry.
Foods You Didn’t Think About That Can Stop You Feeling Hungry
Now we’re into my miscellaneous list. Stuff that’s gonna help, but I couldn’t find a witty enough headline for.
Yes. It’s true… Sometimes I’m an unimaginative motherfucker.
Anyway, I digress. Here comes the bullet point list.
Konjac Noodle / Rice
“What the fuck is that?” Just popped into your head, right? Well, you’re about to call me the God of Nutrition in a second. Because this is going to change your life. It’s THAT big.
Now, this might sound like some hippy bullshit I made up, but it’s true. Konjac is a root found in Asia at the foot of a certain mountain range. Centuries ago the mountains became strangely fertile. And from the mountain came an egg. Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch. From it came a stone monkey, who planted magical roots with zero calories. And boom! Konjac was born.
Ok. That might have been the opening scene from the TV show Monkey, but Konjac is a bit special. Per 200g it has about 24 calories. That’s right. 24 frikkin’ calories. Compare that to 200g of cooked rice, which has over 250 calories and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this could be a game changer.
Make some substitutes in your main meals and you’ll be feeling full without making much of a dent in those precious calories.
You can thank me later.
Not all superheroes wear capes…
Pasta and Rice Substitutes
I want to be clear here. Pasta, rice, and other such carbs aren’t bad. And you can absolutely have them in a calorie deficit and lose weight. But if you’re always feeling hungry, they become an easy target for food swaps.
And that’s mainly because there are other options with similar textures and volume, but with a fraction of the calories. Courgette ribbons and cauliflower rice are just a couple of examples. Experiment and see what works for you.
Low Calorie Ice Cream
Now we’re talking.
Ice cream is my weakness. So imagine my delight and excitement when decent tasting low calorie ice cream became a thing. Hello Halo Top. Hello Jude’s. Oh, and hello Breyer’s. Although, still not a patch on some Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra Core, it serves a purpose and fills a whole.
So, if you’re like me and can’t resist the frozen deliciousness, don’t opt for half a spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s. Go for a full tub of the low calorie versions instead.
Low Calorie Jelly (Jello for my American brethren)
These days you can pick up single serving jelly with the equivalent of 10 calories. Great for a mid-afternoon snack when you’re craving something a little sweet. Plus you can have a few and it’s still not going to make much of a dent in those calories. Winner.
Low Calorie Peanut Butter
Lastly, in our low calorie list we have PBFit (or any other brand of low calorie peanut butter). Ok. I’ll be up front with you, this isn’t full on peanut butter, it’s a powder. But it does come in handy. If you’re fond of adding a blob of nut butter to your oats of post workout shake, then peanut butter powder can be a great alternative.
You’re in the home stretch now. But that doesn’t mean these points are any less important. In fact, they’re likely to some of the most important we’ll cover. Because this is about looking at your lifestyle and making habit changes. And they might be tougher things to do, but often that means they have the biggest impact. So don’t gloss over them.
Are You Actually Hungry?
Most of the time when you feel hungry, you’re not actually hungry. Maybe you’re eating out of boredom, emotion, or because you just watched Masterchef. It’s rarely the case you’re genuinely hungry. Your hunger can also be triggered if you someone who eats at regular times, but then skips one of those meals.
36 Hour Fast
One way to ‘reset’ your hunger cues is to fast for around 36 hours. This will can cause you to reconnect with what real hunger actually is. It’s not guaranteed to work for everyone, but definitely worth a shot if you’re struggling.
Eat After A Task
Here’s a little tip from my personal bag of tricks. When I feel hungry, I say to myself that I can have the food I want, but only after I complete a certain task. So for example, I’ll only eat after I’ve finished writing this article. Not only does it make me more productive, but it takes my mind off food and often I’m no longer hungry by the time I’ve finished. Either that or it’s meal time anyway.
Set Rules And Guidelines
You can try setting rules around the foods you crave. The purpose being to limit, not eliminate these foods from your diet.
So, for example, you could say you’re going to have one donut a week on a Saturday evening. You’ve not eliminated donuts. But you’ve set yourself a goal to work towards. Simply be on track all week and the frosted, sugary, fatty delight is yours, guilt free.
The If / Then Rule
This is another great one. And one I use a lot with coaching clients. If / then is about recognising you might feel hungry and crave food. But more importantly you’re implementing a way of dealing with it BEFORE it happens. Let me explain.
Let’s say you always feel a tinge of hunger around 3pm when there’s a lull at work. Normally, you make a trip to the vending machine and binge on chocolate. Not a big issue once in a while if you’ve got everything on track. But it could be a problem if it’s a regular occurrence. So here’s how if / then could work.
Grab a piece of paper and write down this sentence. “If I feel hungry at 3pm then I will….”
Now you just have to fill in the blanks with a habit or action more in line with your goals. It might be to go for a 5 minute walk. It could be to have a piece of fruit. Or it could even be to strike up a conversation with a colleague. Basically, any action that’s positive.
Then when you find yourself at 3pm on the verge of raiding the vending machine, you’re mentally prepared. Try it and let me know what you think.
Experiment With Meal Frequency
Meal frequency itself has very little impact of fat loss. But it does have an impact when it comes to adherence to a calorie deficit. So if you’re feeling hungry later in the day, try having lighter meals earlier in the day and saving more for the evening. Or skip meals in the early part of the day altogether. You won’t go into starvation mode, that’s made up bullshit. The most important thing is finding what works for you.
You might find it useful to have someone, or a group of people to hold you accountable to your goals. Reporting to a WhatsApp group, Facebook Group, or coach on a regular basis can really focus the mind on the task in hand. And done in the right way, having to report to someone is motivating. It doesn’t have to feel like you’re reporting to the headmaster every day.
The Bottom Line On Not Feeling Hungry On A Diet
Feeling hungry sucks. And can be a huge demotivating part of the dieting process. But there are ways you can combat it.
Not every tip or trick I’ve described will work for you. You’ll need to experiment and find the solution right for you. You might not get it right first time, but don’t lose faith. There’s a solution out there for you.
And that solution could be the secret to unlocking the leaner, healthier body you want.
So my advice is to look at your food choices, make sensible decisions and food swaps to suit you. And review your lifestyle and habit, so everything marries together in perfect harmony.
Now go forth my awesome human, apply this wizard-like teachings and never feel hungry again.
But What’s Next Oh Wise One?
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Come Say Hi
And lastly, if you enjoyed this article, let me know. Come and find me on Instagram and slide up in the DM’s. Just go to @iron_paradise_fitness
But for now all that’s left for me to say is keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.
I’m off to go eat my bodyweight in Konjac rice… Actually that’s 10,000 calories, so better not.