I’ve been on plenty of crazy low-calorie diets in my time, despite only being 24 years old…
As a 75kg, 5″8 male, I’m used to eating anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 calories on a daily basis to maintain my bodyweight. However, I’ve had to go as low as 1,500 calories to get those stubborn bits of body fat off.
We’ve all been there… trying to avoid the temptation of binge eating and relapsing on that diet. If only you could find a way to make sticking to a diet easier… well, let me tell you about the 8 ingenious ways that have helped me get through each diet without the hunger getting to me.
In fact, I was even able to eat some quite naughty food whilst on crazy low calories!
So let’s get into it:
What actually causes us to get hungry?
This is all to do with a hormone called ‘Ghrelin’. Ghrelin is released by the body just before meal times and causes us to feel hungry.
Ghrelin is released into the body from the stomach as well as the pancreas, small intestine and brain.
The hormone is regulated primarily by our food intake. This helps to explain why it is so hard to avoid binge eating after following a low-calorie diet.
However, with this being said – we can trick our body into not feeling unbearably hungry.
1. Eat more protein
Of course, on a low-calorie diet, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating enough protein to avoid your muscles being broken down and digested as energy.
You see… our body needs fuel to operate effectively and it can either get this fuel from calories or from within your own body. If you’re on a low-calorie diet, you won’t have enough calories to fuel your body so it will look to breakdown body fat (happy face) or muscle mass (sad face).
By prioritising protein as a source of calories, this negates the risk of your body using muscle as fuel because protein is the building blocks of muscle.
Additionally, the consumption of protein is also scientifically proven to satiate you for longer than fats and carbohydrates.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that people who consumed a higher amount of their calories from sources of protein ate less on average and lost more weight as a result.
2. Drink decaffeinated black coffee
Another way I curbed my appetite was by drinking black coffee first thing in the morning.
If coffee isn’t really your ‘cup of tea’ (see what I did there), then you can swap this out for a tea – just make sure you remember to track the calories for the milk!
Tea tip – don’t brew tea for too long – no one likes that weird scum on top.
For such a long time, I thought that drinking normal black coffee would help to suppress my appetite.
However, it was only when I was reading up on a number of studies done (for the purposes of this post), that I found a number of results that indicate decaffeinated coffee actually suppresses hunger more than caffeinated.
The reason as to why exactly, decaffeinated drinks reduce appetite is currently unknown. If you’d like to read up on the study, you can find it here.
3. Chew gum
Chewing gum is another popular way of reducing appetite. You can use this method when you fancy a snack and it helps to push back the urge to eat.
An article by WebMD suggests that it can help to lose around 10lbs of weight over the course of a year as it can help to reduce daily caloric intake by 40 calories!
Of course, sugary gum will have calories so this would be something to steer clear of. However most shops sell sugar-free gum so that would be the best option. Plus it will stop your breath smelling like ass.
4. Sleep in as long as possible
This may sound a bit silly but the logic is pretty simple.
How often do you dream that you’re unbearably hungry? You don’t really…
So if you’re on a low-calorie diet, sleeping in as long as possible will not only help your body recover from the stress of lower calories but also helps to push back your first meal of the day so you aren’t as hungry throughout the day!
This brings me nicely onto my next point…
5. Intermittent fasting
There is so much to talk about regarding intermittent fasting that there is definitely scope to do a separate post on it. So for now, I’ll give you a cheeky overview.
Intermittent fasting is essentially where you fast intermittently – rocket science, right?
So the way you do it, is assign a certain period of time that you can eat, say between 12pm and 8pm. Outside of these hours, you’ll be fasting.
Of course, it is much easier if you sleep in until 12pm every day (like the previous point) but you’re sure to feel much less hungry between 12pm and 8pm as you have a small eating window.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can play with the eating period – there is the warrior diet that has a 20 hour fasting window and a 4 hour eating window.
Works for some, not for all.
But something to note is, if you fast until 12pm every single day – your body will learn to expect food in this time period only.
That means your body will start to produce Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) at 12pm rather than during the morning.
Essentially it means that fasting will become much easier, the longer you do it for.
6. Stay busy
This is probably more of a tool for intermittent fasting.
Have you ever had a super busy day – you get to your desk at 9am, have an absolutely shit-wave of work and look up at the time and see it’s 3pm already?
Now you’ve got all of your calories for the day to eat in the space of about 5 hours (depending on your eating window).
How nice is it going to feel when you get to have 2 meals consisting of 750 calories about 2 hours apart and still not having more than your 1,500 calories for the day?
This could also be a great opportunity to have something a bit more naughty as those foods are usually higher in calories so can help you with adherence to the diet.
7. Eat more vegetables
A bit of a no-brainer but if you’re eating less food, you’ll need to eat as much healthy food as possible to ensure you’re still hitting your micronutrient requirements for the day.
In addition to this, vegetables give you more of a ‘bang for your buck’ when it comes to using up calories.
I’m going to illustrate my point. There are approximately 150 calories in a Cadbury’s Creme Egg – guess how much broccoli you can get for 150 calories.
Now… do you reckon you could eat 440 grams of broccoli in one sitting? I’d be way too full before I finished that (and probably feel a bit sick). So what would fill you up more? A shit ton of broccoli or a Cadbury’s Creme Egg?
Don’t mean to brag but I could probably smash about 5 Creme Eggs before I start feeling a bit sick – anyone fancy a competition?
8. Drink ice-cold water
Not only does drinking water keep you hydrated but it also burns calories for your body to drink it.
That doesn’t really make sense because there are no calories in water… right?
Correct – BUT – the reason it burns calories is because you body has to use up a tiny amount of energy to warm the ice-cold water down to body temperature.
So really… there isn’t any drawbacks of drinking water?
And also it helps to fill you up so you aren’t as hungry. Although this is only a short term solution!
A good tip would be to down a pint of cool water when you first wake up. This will help to get you going and delays any belly hunger gurgles – it also helps to keep you regular.
I hope these 8 tips gives you a bit of a mental break when it comes to dieting and if you have any other tips you’d like to add – comment below!
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