Sometimes you just need to eat less. While I do everything possible in my writings and research to find ways to help you eat more food, still lose weight, improve your health, there is a limit to this. If you are not losing weight and want to lose 5, 10, or 15lbs you will need to eat less food than you currently are to make this happen.
The biggest stumbling block for most in this area is appetite and how to curb it. The bad news is that when you are dieting and eating less food you will always be hungry.Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here.
In a perfect world our body’s would get used to the concept of eating less food and your brain would stop sending the ‘I’m hungry’ signal. Sort of like when you get a cut, it hurts for a little bit but then after a while your body stops transmitting the pain signal. Unfortunately, the human body’s response to hunger is not the same as its response to a paper cut.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that when looking at scientific research for an answer to a question, I like to use human research. Unfortunately, it is prohibitively difficult to continually restrict a group of people’s calories and measure their appetite and hunger signals/cues in the brain to see how long they last. People have a tendency not so enroll in studies that would force them to under eat for decade.
So the best data we have to go on comes from animals. Studies from mice show that even after being underfed the equivalent of 7 human years (I say ‘human’ years because the lifespan of a mouse if much shorter – same concept as ‘dog years’), the area in the brain responsible for sending the ‘I’m hungry’ signal is working just as hard sending that signal as it was on day 1.
Since it looks like our desire to eat more when we are eating less is always going to be there and considering that the brain is the driving force behind these feelings, we need to revert to tips, tricks, and other strategies to fool the brain into thinking we’re not eating less. I took an informal poll on the Naked Nutrition Facebook page to see what people are doing to suppress appetite and fight this hardwired hunger response. Here’s what’s working for people:
1. Drinking Lots of Tea (Green, Black, Mate, etc) – While probably not as effective as all the ads on the internet claim, but tea has been used for hundreds of years as an appetite suppressant.
2. Fiber, Fiber, Fiber – Taking advantage of the satiating effects of fiber is also very important. One person adds ground flax to meals throughout the day. This is a great tip. Ground flax can be easily added to lots of things, it full of fiber, omega-3s, and other phytonutrients. In addition most fiber rich foods are generally not calorie dense foods which means that you can eat more without eating more calories.
3. Drinking More Water – While drinking water at a meal has not really been shown in scientific studies to make people eat less calories, it is still a widely used strategy by many people. What is really interesting is that if you take that same glass of water and use it to make a soup with the vegetables at that meal (so you are basically eating the same things just in a different form), studies show that you will then eat less – wild huh? Researchers think it has to do with visual cues and a glass of water just does not scream ‘I’m going to make you full’ to the brain (I know that it doesn’t to mine).
4. Sugar Free Jello – This tip also fall under the category of eating foods that aren’t calorie dense. Sugar free Jello is devoid of calories but the act of eating itself can help signal the brain that you should not be as hungry because you just ate. If there is one thing that research has shown us about eating behaviors, it is that calories don’t matter. We are a very visually driven species, so seeing a big bowl of food that is low in calories (like Jello or a salad) will result in us thinking we ate a lot despite the fact that the actual amount of calories we ate weren’t that much.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the last 3 tips. If you have something that works for you that wasn’t mentioned above please post a comment below so we all can benefit.