When you go on a diet, no doubt you're excited to lose weight. In fact, you're probably so eager that you're willing to cut way back on what you normally eat so you lose weight faster. While your intentions may be in the right place, your eagerness to lose weight may lead to extreme hunger pains. The key to losing weight is to find the right balance between calorie reduction and hunger control.
Calories Count When Fighting Hunger
If your weight-loss diet is causing you to feel too hungry, you may not be getting enough calories. To lose 1 pound of fat a week, you need to create a 500-calorie deficit each day by either eating fewer calories, burning more calories or a combination of both. Following a low-calorie diet can help you create this deficit. In general, most women can lose weight on a 1,000- to 1,200-calorie diet, while men and women who weigh more than 165 pounds can lose weight on a 1,200- to 1,600-calorie diet. If your current calorie-restricted diet is leaving you too hungry, increase your daily intake by 100 to 200 calories.
Think About Energy Density
Energy density refers to the number of calories a food item contains compared to its weight. Foods with a low-energy density have fewer calories in a larger volume and therefore fill you up on fewer calories. For example, you can have a 1/2-cup serving of high-quality vanilla chocolate chip ice cream for 290 calories, or more than 6 cups of watermelon for the same number of calories. Low-energy-dense foods contain high amounts of water and tend to be high in fiber. Fruits, vegetables and broth-based soups are examples of low-energy-dense foods.
Get Your Fiber
Getting more fiber in your diet also helps you fight hunger pains when dieting. Fiber increases meal satiety and keeps you feeling full long after you've finished eating. According to an article published in "Nutrition Review," getting more than 14 grams of fiber for more than two days decreases calorie intake by 10 percent and can help promote a loss of almost 5 pounds over a four-month period without making any changes in your usual calorie intake. It is recommended that you get 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Eat More Often
When trying to lose weight, you should eat regularly to help control hunger and keep energy levels up. While most people do OK eating three meals and one snack a day, you might be better off eating five to six small meals throughout the day to help control hunger. On this type of meal plan, you're eating a 200- to 250-calorie meal -- depending on your weight-loss calorie needs -- every two to three hours, which might help prevent you from feeling any hunger pains.
Snack After Your Workout
Working out is a good way to burn off extra calories, but it can leave you feeling extra hungry afterward. To control your post-workout hunger pains, drink plenty of water and have a snack within two hours after you exercise. A good snack should include some carbs and protein, such as a whole-wheat English muffin topped with low-fat cheese or an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, to replenish energy stores and promote muscle recovery. For calorie control, keep your post-workout snack to fewer than 200 calories.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What It Takes to Lose Weight
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating Plan
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy Dense Foods and Weight-Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Nutrition Review: Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation
- Medline Plus: High-Fiber Foods
- Haagen Dazs: Vanilla Chocolate Chip: Nutrition Information
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Watermelon, Raw
- Huffington Post: How Exercise Affects Appetite
- Nutrition411: Exercise: The Post-Workout Meal
- University of California San Diego: Smart Snacking for Adults and Teens