One of the biggest problems people face when on a fat loss diet is staying full and satisfied. You may well have come from a routine where you ate however much you wanted, what you wanted, and when you wanted it. This is most likely what got you into that difficult situation of feeling unhappy with your body in the first place.
Then when you enter a calorie deficit, where you are burning more calories than you are consuming, you are suddenly eating fewer calories and, as a result, have hunger cravings throughout the day. This can then lead to you snacking, binging and reaching for foods that when drastically take you away from your target intake for the day.
So, how can you prevent this? How can you prevent those food cravings so that you stay on track with your nutrition and therefore reach you goals a lot faster and more efficiently?
Eat More Protein
Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body. It has ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscles and bones, in addition to making hormones and enzymes. Protein is also essential for retaining the muscle you have already gained and can be used as an energy source.
To retain that muscle, your protein intake needs to remain high to continue protein synthesis in your body. This means getting 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, which is vital in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body.
Another great benefit of protein is that it is very satiating and makes you feel full. This is partly because protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also boosts the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full. Furthermore, Protein takes more energy for you to digest than refined carbohydrates, which means that your body is burning more energy (calories) to digest the food. So, if you want to prevent those cravings, start with increasing your protein intake.
Eat Lots of Veggies
Another great tactic is to consistently consume plenty of vegetables. Aside from the plethora of health benefits that they offer, vegetables are low in calories, meaning that you will be able to consume high quantities and not drastically take your calories off target. Taking up lots of space in your stomach through consuming vegetables will mean that you are fuller and more satisfied throughout the day, and therefore you will find sticking to your calorie target much easier in general.
Make sure that you are getting a wide variety of vegetables into your diet, from nutritious greens such as broccoli, kale, spinach, green beans, sprouts, celery and salad to other filling options such as carrots, potatoes and radishes. This will mean that you can prevent cravings better but also allow your body to consume lots of different nutrients which will provide huge health benefits.
This is an increasingly popular eating protocol in which you only eat or drink between an 8-10-hour window during the day. It includes delaying your first meal until late morning and consuming your last meal at around 7-8 pm.
Intermittent fasting itself is not going to be the key factor in fat loss, a consistent calorie deficit is, but it can help you stick to your diet long-term, which is what is going to help get you your desired results. This is because it allows you to feel fuller and more satisfied during the day, due to the fact that your meals are much closer together in a shorter window. Therefore, the more satisfied you are, the less likely you are to eat more and consume foods high in calories that will take you over your recommended calorie intake for the day. So, if you want to feel more satisfied and prevent cravings, intermittent fasting is a great option for doing so.
Another great option for you is to find alternatives for your favourite foods. At certain points during the day, it is likely that you will have a craving for something, such as chocolate, sweets, crisps and other high-calorie, low nutrient foods that put you in danger of going off track completely. However, finding different foods that are lower in calories and higher in macro and micronutrients will mean that you can satisfy your cravings and stay within your required calorie intake at the same time.
There are several examples to get you started with this. For example, many people crave something sweet after having a savoury meal in the evening and end up going for high-calorie chocolates or sweets that dramatically raise your blood sugar levels and calorie intake. Yet great alternatives include low-fat Greek yoghurt, dark chocolate, fruit or a protein bar. So, making smart choices like this will mean more satisfaction with cravings, longer diet adherence, and more consistency with your plan.
Boredom can be a diet killer. This can come from having limited or no work to do, not working on projects, not studying, or not having an active life outside of work. The less busy you are and the more time you have on your hands, particularly at home, the more likely you are to have an unnecessary snack which will increase your calorie intake for the day.
Make sure you keep your mind on other things, such as work and daily tasks, to keep your mind off the food and therefore prevent temptation which can easily hinder your fat loss progress. The mind can play tricks on you, not only when you are not busy but also when you have temptation around you. If you are someone who struggles with controlling yourself, keeping your mind occupied and removing temptation from your surroundings will be key to controlling your hunger cravings.
So, if you are struggling with high hunger cravings, there are some great tips that can help you overcome this. Eat lots of protein, eat lots of vegetables, adopt intermittent fasting, find alternatives for certain damaging foods, and be busier, which will keep your mind occupied. Add these strategies into your routine and you will find that you can control your cravings better and therefore give yourself a much higher chance of staying consistent in the long run.
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