This week our fitness columnist Emmet Rushe, owner and operator of Rushe Fitness, tackles the question “should you be hungry while dieting?”
I am currently on a ‘diet’. By ‘diet’, I mean that I am currently in a phase of my training where I am dropping body fat. The goal of this is to get down to a low enough level of body fat, before I start back into a phase of muscle gain.
The reason I am getting as lean as possible first is so I can manage the amount of fat I may gain when I increase my calories in order to gain muscle. But enough about that.
One thing that has happened to me over the last few weeks, is that my hunger levels have risen the further into the diet that I have gone.
When I say hunger, I am never really ‘starving’, it’s more of an empty feeling an hour or two after I eat.
This brings us back to the point at hand; Should you be hungry when on a diet?
Ask 100 different people and you will get 100 different answers to this question.
1. There are a few ways to look at it. One is to look at where you are coming from when you are starting into a diet, and what your nutrition looks like before and during the diet. If you are coming from a diet that was heavily processed and involved a huge amount of calories, but the volume of food you were eating was low, and you change that to a wholefood diet that involves loads of fruit and vegetables with plenty of meat and fish and enough carbohydrates and fats to suit your goal, the chance of you being hungry are slim.
The reason for this is that even though you are eating less calories, you are actually eating more food than you were before.
You will also have an increase in fibre and protein in your diet and a decrease in processed sugars and fats.
All this combined will keep you fuller for longer and you will be able to lose weight and not go hungry. This is the best possible scenario when dieting.
2. If however you are coming from the same starting point as above, and you were to choose a diet that consisted of 1 meal per day and 2 weight loss shakes, as the majority of these quick fix diets propose, the chances of you being hungry increase 10 fold.
You are coming from a diet of low volume, high calories foods to a diet of lower volume lo calorie food and shakes.
You will feel lethargic and hungry most of the time as you are only really taking in 1 whole meal per day and when you drink the shake, you will be hungry again shortly after you consume it.
This combination of factors is the main reason that people cannot sustain these type of diets for long periods of time and it is also the reason that they end up going on a binge and regaining all the lost weight after they finish. This is the worst possible scenario when dieting.
3. The last way to look at this is if you are coming from a diet that is pretty good, has minimal processed foods, has plenty of fruit and vegetables with plenty of meat and fish and enough carbohydrates and fats to suit your goal, and then you start into a diet in order to lose body fat, as I am currently doing, the likelihood of you being hungry will increase.
The reason for this is that in order to lose more weight and body fat, you will have to reduce the amount of calories you are consuming at different phases of the diet.
Having come from a great starting point, the volume of food you are eating will reduce with each drop in calories, so the chances of being hungry will be high.
That isn’t to say that you will be hungry, but from experience and from knowing people in the industry who have dieted down to low levels of body fat, hunger is part of the process.
Allowing yourself to understand what some hunger feels like, is actually a great learning curve for when you start into a diet.
Once you learn to control this, you will be better placed to deal with it if it happens to arise whenever you start your diet.
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