What exactly do we mean by hunger?
Let’s lay down a few terms.
Level 1: Sort of hungry: I could eat a little something, but I’m not ravenous.
Level 2: Hungry: If I don’t eat something in an hour I’m going to be really hungry.
Level 3: Really Hungry: Thanksgiving sounds perfect.
Level 4: Hangry: When did you turn into a hot dog? Also, why do I HATE EVERYONE ALL OF THE SUDDEN!?!
Level 5: Hangry Like the Wolf: My stomach is about to implode in on itself. I’m too famished to be pissy. I’m in physical pain. Carry me up the mountain Sam!
You don’t need to be Level 3 hungry all the time to lose weight. Maybe if you’re cutting weight for a fight or a photoshoot or something like that, maybe. I just don’t know. That’s not my field of expertise. That’s not who I speak to when I write.
Phew! Glad that’s out of the way!
Who am I speaking to?
People who want a reasonable level of leanness. They want some muscular definition. They want to feel hot when they’re nekkid. They’re not trying to get to -3% body fat or whatever. They just don’t want to feel flabby.
You don’t need to starve yourself and be miserable to make your thighs and stomach feel tighter.
However, it is necessary to deal with hunger in it’s many forms. For instance, we shouldn’t panic when hunger hits. That’s a signal that it’s time to eat.
So in this sense yes, we do need to feel hungry…sometimes. However, we don’t need to be hungry.
Depending on how lean you’re trying to get and how lean you are presently, the relationship with hunger is going to be slightly different.
And in some cases it will be required that we feel Level 1 hunger often. However, being perpetually Level 2 hungry or higher, isn’t necessary or productive in any case.
Let’s take two scenarios and discuss how hunger relates to fat loss with each.
I feel like I have a lot of weight to lose
If you do your nutrition right you don’t need to feel chronic hunger.
We can balance satiety with a caloric deficit by getting most (80-90%) of our calories from things like lean proteins and colorful plants. If you’re eating like this, even if you go a little overboard on portions, you’ll still probably end up dropping weight.
You can technically lose weight eating hamburgers and french fries all the time, but then we have to worry about portion control and shit. And honestly, that’s just more effort than I’m willing to put in. But if that works for you, if that’s an easier habit to change, awesome 🙂
At this point in the fat loss journey, we have a bit of wiggle room. We can maintain a large caloric deficit without adverse health effects. As you lean out, you won’t be able to cut calories this drastically. This is because you won’t have as many calories to cut out!
The less you weigh, the less calories are required to maintain that weight. The heavier you are, the more calories your body needs to sustain itself.
Cutting 1,000 calories means very different things to a 100 lbs individual vs. a 200 lbs individual.
I’m on the last leg of my fat loss journey. Do I need to be Level 2 hungry all the time?
Level 1? Maybe?
Level 2? Probably not.
People often hit a plateau at this point. The game changes a little bit.
Because you have less calories to spare there’s a greater chance that losing additional weight will require being Level 1 hungry often.
This also depends on how fast you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re willing to be patient, we don’t need to feel hungry as often. This is what I recommend in my Online Fat Loss Groups. However, my clients goals are their own, so I help them with whatever they want help with.
I recommend using portion control as a last resort because it’s hard and often unnecessary. Improving food quality and listening to hunger cues is usually enough.
Only after a client has their food quality dialed in (lean proteins and veggies=90% of diet) will we look at portion sizes.
Smaller portions may result in feeling Level 1 hunger more often, at least until you reach your goal weight.
Sometimes we’re not actually as hungry as we think. It takes time to adjust to smaller portions, physically and mentally.
And we still want to limit feelings of deprivation. This will take some experimentation to find a happy medium between enjoyment, sustainability, and results
We still want fat loss to be as easy as we can make it. That said, pushing through a plateau is challenging. That’s why it’s a plateau.
If you’ve hit this plateau and don’t know what to do, measurements can be helpful. That said, if taking measurements can make you feel crazy and/or upset, it’s not a good idea for the time being.
Measurements are a tool to assess gaps in your strategy. Only take measurements if you can analyze them objectively, with zero emotion. This means don’t look at the scale unless it gives you no feelz whatsoever. Not one single feel.
In any case, feeling really hungry occasionally isn’t the end of the world.
Hanger makes choosing healthy foods more difficult psychologically. However, it’s just an unpleasant feeling, not unlike being exhausted or having to pee really bad (totally stole this comparison from an interview with Georgie Fear btw).
We have to deal with unpleasant feelings from time to time because life.
The big takeaway here is that learning to listen to our hunger cues is important and takes time to master.
Listening to hunger cues entails 3 main tenets
- Eating when we’re hungry.
- Stopping when we’re satisfied.
- Not deliberately making ourselves ravenous in an effort to cut calories.
We want to moderate hanger so that making healthier choices is easier. However, we also want to be OK with the feeling of hunger as that’s our body telling us it’s time to eat.
On that note, I’m getting pretty hungry. Bagel time!
Did you like this post? Do you hate my guts and want to tell me personally? Either way, you should opt in at http://mortontrainingsystems.com/ and get my free ebook “Insanity Free Fat Loss” 🙂