5 Ways to Curb Ravenous Hunger

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

With the music bumpin’ in the background, your shirt saturated with sweat and the blood surging through every muscle in your entire body, you grind out your last set of an intense training day.

Taking a seat and a swig of water you pencil in your weights used and the reps completed. After cooling down you gather your training gear, toss it in your gym bag and make your way to the car. Driving home you, scarf down your post training shake and an apple.

20 minutes after you get home you compile a beautiful breakfast of eggs, veggies, sprouted grain bread, almond butter and a banana.

Omelet, Ezekiel Break and Natural PB, Banana, Coffee

Veggie omelet, Ezekiel toast with almond butter and a banana…a true breakfast of champions!

You wash that down with a cup of coffee and some more water. As you start to get ready for work you realize you are still not completely satisfied, so you grab a handful of trail mix.

On the way in to work your stomach grumbles so you stop at a convenience store and snag a yogurt parfait as the only other option was a nasty breakfast sandwich. The parfait is quickly consumed and you are back on your way.

Getting to your desk you situate yourself and take a seat. Not 15 minutes later you recognize that your stomach feels, well empty. “What the hell?” you mumble under your breath. It has only been about an hour since the parfait, so you wait. After what seem like 3 hours, but is really only 30 minutes, you give in to the urge to eat and consume half of the lunch you packed…and it is only 9:30.

The feeling of ravenous hunger continues throughout the day. You didn’t over consume by much (as you do on some days when you can’t help yourself), but you were miserable all day trying to fend of the hunger.

The above scenario is a little twist on a situation an athlete mentioned to me earlier this week. She noticed that when she trains harder she seems to always be hungry, which makes sense. The harder you train the more fuel your body requires. But when you have a goal of maintaining or losing some weight or fat mass, this can become problematic. So what can you do to help keep yourself from overeating and prevent yourself from being miserable all day trying to do so?

…. 4, 5 in this case!

1)      Match your nutrient consumption to your training intensity

The days that you train harder you should be consuming a bit more to ensure that the body has the needed nutrients to recover and adapt. Plan to eat a little more on the high intensity training days, and little less on the off or low intensity days. The best way to do this is to manipulate your carbohydrates…

2)      Manipulate your carbohydrates accordingly (High and Low Days)

The harder you train the more energy and specifically, glycogen you deplete. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in the muscles. In order to fully recover, glycogen stores will be replenished. This allows you to have some more carbohydrate on the higher intensity days as the body will use them to replenish energy stores. On the high intensity days toss in an extra piece of fruit with breakfast or with your snack, a sweet potato with lunch or dinner and don’t be afraid to have a small piece of your favorite sweet something on some of these days for example…just make sure that the sweet something doesn’t make it in every high intensity day! On the lower intensity days you do not need as much carbohydrate (or overall calorie) so forgo the extra carbs.

A cookie on high intensity days every now and then is OK, especially if you work this hard to get it!

3)      Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of veggies 

Your stomach has sensory receptors that respond to the stretching of its walls. What does this mean? When your stomach becomes full, it expands and the brain is sent a signal that you are full. If you tend to feel hungry try drinking an extra glass or two of water with your meal and in between meals. Along with the water make it a point to eat more veggies, especially greens, as you can consume a large volume of these vegetables for little calorie.

4)      Focus on protein

Protein is arguably the most important of the macronutrients when it comes to health and performance. Intense training causes the body’s tissues and systems to break down and protein is critical to rebuild and recover. Another other benefit of protein you may have heard of is that increases levels of satiety. As a nutrient that can help you recover and keep you feeling fuller for longer, protein, along with veggies and water, must be at the center of your meals and snacks.

5)      Slow down

Lastly, slow down when you are eating!!  Not only will it improve digestion, but it will allow your body to recognize when you are full (as it takes roughly 20 minutes to do so), preventing you from over eating. Try taking a bite, putting down your utensils, take a sip of water, spark conversation (if you are eating with someone else) and chew your food completely before taking another bite to help you slow down. Not only will you eat less, but you will feel more satisfied as you actually take your time and “savor the flavor” of your meal. For a more in depth description of how beneficial slowing down when eating is click here.

**Bonus Tip: Stay Busy: The more you sit around during the day, not only are you promoting a sedentary lifestyle, which we all know is not conducive to health, performance or a lean waistline, but your mind has a greater opportunity to “tell” you that you are hungry. If you get this sensation of what I like to call “boredom hunger” get up and move, go for a walk, foam roll, etc…Whatever you want but try to replace eating out of boredom with activity!

The next time your day gets off to ravenous start or quickly spirals into one, try implementing the steps above. Even if you don’t train, have a problem with constant hunger or you are an athlete looking to gain weight, the guidelines above will still promote enhanced health, performance and overall satisfaction when it comes to your meals (for those looking to gain weight just eat a bit more!).

You need to train, and train hard and you should be able to cage the hunger animal inside you! Don’t forget SHARE this with your friends and family because they too deserve to enjoy their food.

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