When it comes to optimizing your nutrition, it’s tough to leave hunger out of the equation. In this article, we’ll go over distinguishing physiological hunger from psychological hunger, why you might often find yourself hungry, and managing hunger in a fat loss phase.


Establishing Physiological vs Psychological Hunger

Are you eating because you are actually hungry, or are you eating for other reasons? Other reasons might include boredom, stress, habit, etc. When we are trying to help clients get in tune with their physiological hunger cues a few things we recommend to look out for are:

  • Stomach growling
  • Feeling hypoglycemic
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability


Psychological hunger is often focused around specific cravings and satisfying a taste. We may not be physiologically hunger when we are turning to food during specific emotional states such as feeling:

  • Bored
  • Lonely
  • Anxious
  • Tired


Hunger is biofeedback letting us know we need to satisfy a physical need. A mindset focused around eating to live rather than living to eat, is one we encourage clients to adopt who are struggling with determining a need versus a want when it comes to food. Some possible solutions we propose to help distinguish hunger would be to try what we all the “raw broccoli test.” I often will have clients ask themselves if they are hungry enough to eat raw broccoli or any raw veggie that they probably wouldn’t crave. If the answer is yes, then its a good sign that it is physiological hunger. If the answer is so, then you’re likely just craving something to eat for reasons outside of needing to fulfill a physical need.


Why You might be “Always Hungry”

There’s no doubt that some of us have appetites for 3 linebackers rather than for just one bikini girl. However, either you’re just simply not eating enough through years of chronic dieting, always feeling hungry or never feeling full might be a common symptom. During fat loss phases specifically, we have higher circulating ghrelin (hunger hormones) and lower circulating leptin (satiety hormones). In fat loss phases, losing body fat causes us to lose leptin, making it harder to feel satiated.


Managing hunger in fat loss phases or contest preps

Managing hunger during fat loss phases can be primarily done through managing 2 micronutrients wisely: protein and fiber. Protein and fiber are the two most satiating macros within our diet. We recommend spreading protein out evenly throughout the day to manage hunger and having high fiber carbohydrate sources to keep you from being hungry again too soon.

There are many instances in which hunger may be difficult to regulate. Whether it is during a fat loss phase, or after years of restrictive dieting and over exercising. Our coaches at team locofit have helped tons of clients manage and respond appropriately to their hunger signals (or lack thereof) to maintain optimal body composition and sports performance. If you are interested in coaching, click on the “apply for coaching tab” and let us help you improve your relationship with food, your body, and teach you how to best manage your nutritional needs.

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