Mike Hill / Dean Belcher / Getty

If you’re trying to lose weight, constant hunger can seem like a necessary evil. You’re cutting down on calories, so naturally you’re going to be fending off cravings all day, right? Not so fast. Not only does that sound like an extremely uncomfortable way to go through life, it’s also not going to help you on your weight loss track. In fact, it might work against you.

Excess hunger can put an extra-tempting spin on unhealthy foods, make you feel too weak to give it your all during a workout, and can actually torpedo your weight loss if you’re not eating enough calories.

Here’s how to know if the pangs that are paining you simply come with the territory or are leading you in the wrong direction.

First, understand that, yes, you’re going to be hungry, but, no, you shouldn’t ALWAYS be hungry.

Experts generally recommend eating every few hours whether you’re trying to lose weight or not. That means you’ll usually feel some level of hunger routinely throughout the day. “If you’re significantly cutting calories after eating large amounts of food, you’ll probably experience some hunger, and that’s normal,” Abby Langer, R.D. and owner of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto, tells SELF. “But if the hunger is always there, it’s distracting, and you’re finding that it’s causing you to overeat or make poor choices when you finally do eat, you probably need to eat more.”

Then, learn to determine just how hungry you really are—and find your sweet spot.

Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of the New York-based BZ Nutrition, recommends getting into the habit of ranking your hunger on a scale from one to 10. “A one is being completely full, and a 10 is being so hungry you want to rip your arm off and eat it just to satiate yourself,” she tells SELF. So, a big difference!

The hunger sweet spot is anywhere from a five to seven on this scale, says Zeitlin. That’s where you should be when you eat a meal or a snack. “If you’re feeling something between an eight to 10, you’ll overeat,” she explains. “At a five to seven, you’re feeling hungry enough to eat but still in control of how much you’re eating.”

A word of caution: Sometimes that hunger you’re feeling isn’t hunger at all.

“Our bodies often interpret hunger for thirst, so we’ll feel hungry even though we’re just thirsty,” says Zeitlin. “Have a glass of water, wait 10 to 20 minutes, and see if the ‘hunger’ goes away,” says Langer. “If it’s still there, you’re probably hungry.” Stress and boredom can also often push people to turn to the fridge when their bodies don’t actually need fuel, Zeitlin adds.

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A post shared by Amanda (Meixner) Rocchio (@meowmeix) on Feb 7, 2018 at 12:15pm PST

Does the top photo look familiar? You try to “be good and eat healthy all day” only to have an all-out binge that night because you feel so famished and deprived.

Meal-prep fanatic and fitness guru Amanda Meixner posted this comparison photo to prove that you don’t need to feel hungry all day long in order to lose weight. Actually, restricting your calorie intake and choice of food too much just tends to backfire. You end up consuming unhealthy foods you normally wouldn’t and overeating hundreds of extra calories, which just leads to weight gain, not weight loss.

If your goal is weight loss, instead of being too restrictive, it’s more effective to prep healthy meals and snacks for the day — it’ll help keep hunger and cravings at bay so you don’t inhale your entire kitchen at the end of the day. Plan out your daily calories so you know you’re on track, and be sure to include lean protein, healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbs. Also incorporate a small treat each day to quench your cravings and to help prevent binge eating later on.

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If you do end up eating like the top photo, don’t sweat it! Instead of beating yourself up for that one little slip-up and letting that one meal turn into a week of unhealthy eating, just acknowledge it and move on. Tomorrow is a new day and a chance to make a fresh start on eating healthy.

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How to Reset Your Body to Burn Fat

Our bodies are naturally fat burning machines, but because of clever marketing and an abundance of ‘food like products’, we have become dependent on sugar and carbohydrates in food to supply us with energy.

Every time we have that mid-morning snack we create a blood sugar spike, which causes the hormone insulin to be released. Excess insulin not only causes us to put on fat, but it actually stops us from burning the fat we already have. Long term this can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Eating ‘little and often’ or ‘grazing’ has become the social norm with the myth that it keeps the metabolism firing. Unfortunately, we are encouraged to snack in between meals by companies who create ‘food like products’ which are cheap, nutrient sparse, and highly processed.

Intermittent Fasting retrains your body to become fat adapted. This means you burn stored body fat for energy, rather than being dependent on sugars from food. This is the fundamental principle behind The 2 Meal Day Intermittent Fasting Plan and why so many people have had success with both weight loss, muscle gain, stabilisation of energy levels and resetting hunger hormones.

Digestion takes up a lot of energy and contributes to energy slumps throughout the day. Fasting will help stabilise blood sugar levels and force your body to draw on its own fat reserves for energy, rather than being dependent on a constant stream of food.

It can take time for your body to get used to this way of eating, and it may be difficult for some of you. There is a transition period where your body goes from being a sugar burner, to a fat burner. This period is different for everyone but can take anywhere between 2-7 days.

Once you are burning fat for energy you will quickly reap the benefits of stable energy levels, feeling “real hunger” (every 12-24 hours), dropping body fat, and not being a slave to hunger.

This is empowering because you become completely self-sufficient. Not only will you lose weight, you will be FULL of energy all day long, no longer reaching for caffeine or nicotine or sugar to get you through the day.

Most surprisingly you will feel less hungry. Fasting teaches you to tune into your body. You will start to understand what “Real” hunger feels like, something that occurs every 16-24 hours not every four hours.

Being in a fasted state promotes incredible changes in the body. Taking us back to the way human beings ate for thousands of years when food wasn’t constantly available.

We have become dependent on sugar for energy. The mid-morning and afternoon slumps in energy levels have become the social norm, but I can assure you this is completely unnatural.

In the West, we have this phobia of having an empty stomach, but amazing things happen in the body when it is.

All you are doing is pushing your first meal later into the day and then enjoying two filling meals in the afternoon. Once you start to decrease how often you eat you will feel less hungry, and this is incredibly empowering.

Fasting has nothing to do with starvation. It’s about giving your body what it needs when it needs it. Just by pushing your first meal a bit later into the day you can optimise virtually every system in the body.

Most importantly this is not a crash diet, but a way of life that can be central to your health and fitness journey.

Where to Start? Your Resources to Transform Your Health and Wellbeing

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is proving to be a simple and effective strategy for avoiding major dietary changes while achieving strong effects not just for one disease risk factor, but for an array of factors that constitutes the foundation for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and possibly neurodegenerative diseases. Most importantly it is becoming a way of life for so many people.

The Difference Between Intermittent Fasting and Calorie Restriction

The difference between Intermittent Fasting and calorie restriction is often also the difference between success and failure. Knowing this difference could be the difference between yo-yo dieting and a sustainable weight loss and lifestyle change for the better!

Top 3 Fasting Myths

Enough is enough, here are 3 of the biggest and most widely discussed Intermittent Fasting Myths that I come across and everything you need to know the truth surrounding each of them!

Can Women Fast?

This is definitely one of the most common questions that I get asked and there are often a lot of rumors and myths that get thrown around on the subject. But, is intermittent fasting safe for women?

Top 5 IF Mistakes

Intermittent Fasting is quickly getting the global exposure that it deserves as a way of life. Here are 5 fasting mistakes I see people make all too often when they are fasting and how I suggest people overcome them.

Why 2 Meal Day Could Change Your Life

Since I discovered intermittent fasting almost 5 years ago, it has become the most important discovery in my health and fitness journey, not only is it a way of life for me, my sole purpose in life at the moment is to share this way of eating with as many people as possible.

A Way of Life

By skipping one meal, you are getting a 16 hour fast but the focus is on eating when you feel hungry, not because the clock tells you to. This slight change of focus makes a MASSIVE difference. It becomes a way of life rather than something you do in the short term to get you to your weight loss goals.

I follow The 2 Meal Day every day because of how it makes me feel, I am full of energy I never feel hungry and I stay lean effortlessly. I regularly eat out with friends and I love food – there is absolutely no feelings of restriction or deprivation or I simply wouldn’t do it.

In order for any lifestyle change to become consistent over time, it needs to be flexible. This is why The 2 Meal Day is so powerful. It teaches you to listen to your body better which is empowering so you can fit it into your life how you see fit.

Some weekends you may have a family breakfast or social event, some mornings you might wake up tired and hungry – this is OK. On those days, you should eat breakfast and not have any feelings of guilt associated with it.

5 years ago, I would have woken up and eaten breakfast because “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”… well not anymore! Now that I understand my body and hunger better if I eat a lot of food (which happens a lot) I naturally feel less hungry the next day, so I often do a longer fast.

Fasting teaches you not to be scared of having an empty stomach, and having an empty stomach promotes some profound positive changes in the body.

I truly believe that IF is the “missing link” in our overall health and well-being. There are so many health benefits and very little negatives, plus, you can incorporate any style of eating and apply the principles, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian etc.

So what are you waiting for? If you are looking at losing weight, having more energy, feeling less hungry or you want to optimise your health, IF could make all the difference and it will give you the tools to understand your body better – long term this can lead to profound, long lasting changes.

Contrary to the moans of many dieters, being hungry may make you happy. Or, at least, it can be a serious motivator whose evolutionary intent was to help you find dinner instead of becoming dinner.

When our bodies notice we need more calories, levels of a hormone called ghrelin increase. Ghrelin is known to spur hunger, but new research suggests this may be a side effect of its primary job as a stress-buster.

Researchers manipulated ghrelin levels in mice through a variety of methods, including prolonged calorie restriction, ghrelin injection and a genetic modification rendering the mice numb to ghrelin’s effect.

Mice who had limited ghrelin activity seemed depressed. If pushed into deep water they made no effort to swim. When introduced to a maze, they clung to the entryway. And when placed with other mice, they tended to keep to themselves. (These behaviors were reversed when the mice were given a low-dose antidepressant commonly prescribed to humans.)

In contrast, mice with high levels of ghrelin swam energetically in deep water, looking for escape. They eagerly explored new environments. And they were much more social.

Mice are thought to be good analogues for humans in tests like these. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and other organizations, is detailed in the July 2008 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

In the wild

The researchers think that hunger-induced happiness is an adaptive measure. Getting food, especially in the wild, requires concentration, clear-headed perception and often cooperation.

If hunger made us walk around in a funk, we’d likely become someone else’s dinner. Instead, ghrelin motivates and focuses us on getting some F-O-O-D! Stat!

Hunger is not the only stressor that causes ghrelin to rise. Social anxiety can stimulate it as well. When mice were exposed to an older “bully” mouse (think, overbearing boss), ghrelin levels rose and stayed high for weeks.

Elevated ghrelin could be why some people overeat when under pressure. If the stress-induced snack is avoided, the research suggests, ghrelin levels will remain high and help us confront the stressor in a calm, effective way.

Possibly addictive

What about when we are actually hungry? Surely, there is nothing fun about that!

“You don’t really see an effect until you have lost, say, 10 to15 percent of your body weight,” said lead researcher Michael Lutter of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. But once you are getting regular boosts from ghrelin, it could become addictive – which may explain why anorexics have such a difficult time recovering.

It could also explain the Calorie Restriction (CR) movement. CR devotees are motivated, at least at first, by animal studies that show eating 20 to 30 percent less than considered adequate extends life span (even if it also, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in March 2007, results in bone and muscle wasting, fatigue, constipation, dizziness and other signs of poor health).

While CR’s anti-aging effect is likely operating through a different mechanism, Lutter wouldn’t be surprised if the prolonged diet also gives CR followers a mood boost.

  • Video: Starving Out Cancer
  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About You
  • Good Foods Gone Bad

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? One of the most common resolutions, of course, is weight loss. If you’re thinking about cutting back on unhealthy foods, adding more fresh fruits, veggies, and whole plant-based dishes, kicking up your fitness routine, we’re in support of all those positive actions! If, however, you’re feeling intimidated by that edginess of hunger that inevitably accompanies weight loss (or maybe feeling just a little edgy even now, reading this), I completely hear you.

The truth is, no matter how sustainable and healthy your weight loss plans are, in the process of trimming down, you will absolutely feel hunger more than usual. Although I haven’t actively tried to lose weight in years, any time my weight goes down due to being more active and not having the time or the mental space to eat a lot, I do feel hunger more sharply; conversely, when I don’t feel hungry throughout the day, for a week or more, my weight goes up. And years ago, when I was actually trying to lose substantial amounts of weight, I used to go to bed feeling really hungry and almost weak. This resulted in slimming down, but even to this day I have an aversion against going to bed famished. (This is what juice fasts feel like, you guys!)

But the prospect of hunger doesn’t have to be so daunting and discouraging. While I still don’t recommend going to bed hungry, there are studies that show feeling hunger throughout the day has unexpected benefits. Here is what you should know about the upside of hunger for health and wellness.

1. Being hungry before eating keeps you healthier: According to a recent Cornell study, being actually hungry before a meal keeps your blood sugar levels lower even after the meal, than otherwise. When the researchers measured the subjects’ blood glucose levels after eating, the subjects who were “moderately hungry” before the meal had lower glucose levels than those who were “not particularly hungry.” (If you ever get super hungry and eat a rich meal, and feel satisfied yet relatively light rather than bloated and uncomfortable, this is why). Raised glucose levels is detrimental to your cellular health and has long-term health risks.

2. Hunger helps you make better decisions: It’s often assumed that being hungry (or in another physically triggered “hot state”) is detrimental to making smart choices. But it turns out that the opposite is true: in a recent study by the University of Utretcht researchers, moderately hungry people performed better at complex tasks designed to test their ability to choose long-term benefits over short-term gratification, including tests of how they choose among decks of cards with rewards. The theory is that, instead of making you impulsive, hunger actually sharpens your gut instincts to the point where it helps you make good choices even when the outcomes are not immediately clear. Personally, I find that having an empty stomach helps me think and behave a little more sharply, which is why I like to do important work before meals or without mindless snacking.

So what does this mean in reality? I don’t mean to glorify hunger or suggest that it’s the right condition for everyone–or for anyone to experience for prolonged periods of time. If you are young and still growing, pregnant or nursing, or otherwise have high nutritional needs, you should by all means avoid hunger. And if you have a history of struggling with body image issues and eating disorders, you shouldn’t take this to mean starving yourself is actually beneficial. But there are ways that accepting hunger as a part of your life can actually promote healthy and balanced eating style.

Use hunger as a signal to know when to eat: This means that you not only hold off on eating until you actually feel hungry, but that when you do feel hungry, you eat properly. So much of our disordered eating styles and food anxieties come from reversing this natural rhythm: eating for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger, and then trying to make up for it by skipping meals to the point of being famished. These other, incorrect cues include eating because it’s a certain time of day; boredom; stress and anxieties; social reasons; and even simply because it’s fun. Instead, try to make hunger your first cue for food.

Lose the fear of hunger and know that you can control/respond to it: there is a certain phobia of hunger in our culture, leading us to think that if you’re on a healthy weight loss/maintenance regimen, you shouldn’t ever feel hungry, or that if you’re hungry all the time, you’re about to gain a lot of weight. But neither of those things are true–hunger is just another message that your body is sending you, and giving it what it needs lets you be in control of your health.

Know what kind of eating pattern works for you: I’m a staunch believer in not going to bed with an empty stomach because it causes me to wake up in the middle of the night–and studies indeed confirm that hunger hormone ghrelin can disrupt your sleep. On the other hand, I like to start off my morning very light, usually with just a coffee–for the same reason hunger wakes me up at night, it makes me feel more awake in the morning! But what feels good for my body and mind might not work for you. Listen to your body to find a routine that makes you feel light and satiated throughout the day.

Don’t take it too far: The studies that have shown hunger to be beneficial for health or mental clarity have had subjects report “moderate,” rather than “severe,” hunger. Feeling a manageable amount of hunger before meals is good for tuning into an intuitive eating pattern; but don’t take it to the point of having hunger pangs, dizziness, irritation, weakness, etc.

Do you eat based on your hunger cues? Does anyone else prefer having an empty stomach for certain hours of the day/ tasks? I’d also love to hear if you disagree. 🙂

More health news: Why Stress is Actually Good For You

Why I Practice Intermittent Fasting

Should You Eat Before You Exercise?

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Photo: oston Public Library via Flickr

Why You Should Let Yourself Get Hungry

Here are the benefits to feeling hungry between meals:

1 Hunger boosts growth hormone, which aids in regeneration and keeps you looking and feeling young. Human growth hormone is naturally produced in the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth, and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs. It also decreases body fat, and because it stimulates cellular regeneration, it keeps you from getting wrinkles! When you’re hungry and your stomach is empty, your body produces the hormone ghrelin to tell you it’s time to eat. If you ride the hunger out a bit, you can reap some great benefits: Ghrelin can boost growth hormone naturally and even improve learning and memory (source), but ghrelin decreases immediately upon eating. I think the best way to do this is to stop eating after dinner (let’s say, no later than 7 or 8pm), then work out first thing in the AM in a fasted state (also boosts growth hormone on an empty stomach, win-win) and eat breakfast afterwards, say around 9am. Don’t do this if you’re hypoglycemic. Excellent for fat loss, also.

2 Hunger promotes better digestion. When you feel your stomach rumble between meals, it’s a sign that your migrating motor complex is sending peristaltic waves through your small intestine to help sweep bacteria down toward your large intestine where they belong. If you never allow your stomach to empty by snacking or grazing too frequently, you won’t reap this benefit, putting you at risk for SIBO, a bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine that causes painful bloating, gas, belching, constipation, and/or diarrhea. So that rumbling you feel between meals is a good thing: it’s your digestive tract working properly to ensure bacteria stay in the right areas and prevent indigestion. Empty stomach between meals = better digestion.

3 Hunger before meals improves blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity that aids in weight regulation. Many of us eat when we’re not hungry because tasty convenience foods are ubiquitous. My clients often mention having trouble staying away from candy bowls and snack areas filled with chips, sodas, and high carbohydrate refined snacks that jack blood sugar and insulin levels. These foods are engineered to make us feel good by hitting the salt, fat, and sugar sensors we are biologically hard wired to crave for survival. Insulin is a fat storage hormone, which means when it’s chronically elevated (which is what happens with too many high carb and high sugar foods, as well as eating too frequently), you’re programmed to store more fat. High blood sugar triggers spikes in insulin and has detrimental effects on one’s overall health, including risk for type 2 diabetes. Studies show that individuals who were moderately hungry before meals tended to have lower blood glucose levels after consuming the meal than individuals who were not particularly hungry before consuming the meal (source). Bottom line: getting hungry between meals improves blood glucose and insulin levels. Also beneficial for weight loss.

Primal and ancestral lifestyle expert Mark Sisson says, I find it plausible that feeling the sensation of hunger—true hunger, as arises after a hard workout with very little in your stomach—is worth experiencing on a semi-regular basis. It’s a feeling humans are “meant” to feel, as our ancestral environments often dictated we go without food despite desiring (and even “needing”) it. WHEN is also a valuable tactic. To eat when hunger ensues naturally is to honor your physiology. If anything is a valid and accurate indicator of your body’s immediate nutritional requirements, it’s your subconscious instincts and urges. (source)

Troubleshooting Hunger

First off, if you’re eating regularly but are never really hungry, you’re probably eating too much, and this can prevent you from losing weight, if that’s your goal. If this is you, try cutting back a bit at mealtimes to see how that feels. Wait four to five hours between meals. You want to feel pleasantly hungry but not starving when mealtime rolls around. Stomach rumbling is a good thing, as we discussed above.

If you’re always hungry, you’re not eating enough, or you’re eating too many carbs and not enough protein and/or good fat. Try adding more protein to your meals and avoid the empty carbs: bread, pasta, wheat and white flour products. This post will help you learn how to design meals.

Caveats

If you are hypoglycemic and prone to low blood sugar, you need to take extra care to manage your blood sugar levels, and you may need to eat more frequently.

If you have or have had an eating disorder, this type of conscious practice around hunger might be triggering for you.

Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.

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Song Parodies -> “Totally Drips On My Heart”

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit hungry for a burger quarter pound.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit tired of crispy little pretzels with beers.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little but nervous that the best-looking waitress passes by.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little meal badly fried but then I see my burger and fries.
(Turn around, cheese fries.)
Every now and then it falls apart!
(Turn around, cheese fries.)
Every now and then it falls apart!
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit restless and I’m craving something wild.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit hopeless and I’m slurping like a child with a bib.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little big angry ’cause a ‘tato skin has dropped to the ground.
(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little meal badly fried but then I see my burger and fries.
(Turn around, cheese fries.)
Every now and then it falls apart!
(Turn around, cheese fries!)
Every now and then it falls apart!
And I need it now tonight!
But I can’t hold it together!
Even if I hold it tight
I find the pickles have been severed!
And it don’t matter if it’s made right
’cause it will still end up wrong!
Together chefs will cook it up right into the night
But sauce and gravy, cheddar on me all of the time!
(All of the time!)
I don’t know what to do, my white shirt’s now gone dark!
My dinner’s getting cold and now I just dropped my fork!
I’m really hungry tonight!
My dinner’s gonna start tonight!
My dinner’s gonna start to
Once upon a time I had food that I love.
Now my burger’s falling apart.
There’s nothing I can do.
It totally drips on my heart.
Once upon a time, food was light on my plate.
Now I’m reaching for dessert cart.
There’s nothing I can say.
It totally drips on my heart.
(instrumental break)
(Turn around, cheese fries.)
Every now and then it falls apart!
(Turn around, cheese fries!)
Every now and then it falls apart!
And I need it now tonight!
But I can’t hold it together!
Even if I hold it tight
I find the pickles have been severed!
And it don’t matter if it’s made right
’cause it will still end up wrong!
Together chefs will cook it up right into the night
But sauce and gravy, cheddar on me all of the time!
(All of the time!)
I don’t know what to do, my white shirt’s now gone dark!
My dinner’s getting cold and now I just dropped my fork!
I’m really hungry tonight!
My dinner’s gonna start tonight!
My dinner’s gonna start to
Once upon a time I had food that I love.
Now my burger’s falling apart.
There’s nothing I can do.
It totally drips on my heart.
Once upon a time, food was light on my plate.
Now I’m reaching for dessert cart.
There’s nothing I can say!
It totally drips on my heart!
It totally drips on my heart!
(Turn around, cheese fries!)
(Turn around, cheese fries, turn around!)

How Often Should You Eat?

In last week’s show, I debunked the myth that eating more frequently keeps your metabolism revved up. Not only does skipping meals not shut down your metabolism, but there may be some benefits to going a bit longer between meals.

As I explained in last week’s show, going for four or five hours—or even longer—between meals will not affect your metabolism one whit. In fact, there are some good reasons to go longer than just a few hours between meals.

It takes about three hours for your body to finish digesting a meal. If you eat every two or three hours, as many experts now advise, your body will constantly be in what nutritionists call the “fed state.” This simply means that you are always in the process of digesting food.

If, on the other hand, you don’t eat again, you’ll go into something we call the “post-absorptive” state after about three hours. Several interesting things happen in the post-absorptive state, which continues for another 12 to 18 hours if you don’t eat again (for a quick tip about how beverages fit into this equation, head over here).

First, you begin tapping into your body’s stored energy reserves to run your engine. Your hormone levels adjust to shift your body out of fat-storage mode and into fat-burning mode. Hanging out in the post-absorptive state also reduces free-radical damage and inflammation, increases the production of anti-aging hormones, and promotes tissue repair. And, just to reinforce what we talked about last week, your metabolic rate remains unchanged.

But what about your blood sugar?

You’ll often hear people say that eating small, frequent meals helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady. And it does: It keeps your blood sugar steadily high.

Whoever said that your blood sugar levels were supposed to remain constant throughout the day, anyway? They’re not. They are supposed to rise after meals, as food is digested and converted into glucose, and then fall back to baseline as the glucose is taken up by the cells and used for energy or stored for future use.

Having your blood sugar level fall to baseline is not bad for you! In fact, having your blood sugar closer to baseline for more of the day helps to protect you from developing diabetes. Now, of course, it is possible for blood sugar to get too low. This is known as hypoglycemia. A lot of people self-diagnose themselves with this condition, but very few of them actually have it. Diabetics using insulin or folks with a medical condition called reactive hypoglycemia need to be careful about letting their blood sugar get too low.

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Health Information

How can you get back in touch with your hunger signals?

Figure out where you are now

First, find out what signals you are following. Keep a food journal for 2 weeks, or longer if you need to. Write down not only when and what you eat but also what you were doing and feeling before you started eating. Using the hunger scale below, write down where you were on the scale before you ate and where you were afterwards.

When you look back at your food journal, you may see some eating patterns. For example, you may find that you almost always eat dinner in front of the TV. You may find that you always eat an evening snack, even when you’re not hungry. You may find that you often snack when you “feel” like you want to eat (because of boredom, stress, or some other emotion), but you’re not truly hungry.

Use a hunger scale

A hunger scale can help you learn how to tell the difference between true, physical hunger and hunger that’s really just in your head. Psychological hunger is a desire to eat that is caused by emotions, like stress, boredom, sadness, or happiness.

When you feel hungry even though you recently ate, check to see if what you’re feeling is really a craving brought on by something psychological.

When you start feeling like you want something to eat, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being starving and 10 being so full you feel sick. A rating of 5 or 6 means you’re comfortable—neither too hungry nor too full.

  • 1—Starving, weak, dizzy
  • 2—Very hungry, cranky, low energy, lots of stomach growling
  • 3—Pretty hungry, stomach is growling a little
  • 4—Starting to feel a little hungry
  • 5—Satisfied, neither hungry nor full
  • 6—A little full, pleasantly full
  • 7—A little uncomfortable
  • 8—Feeling stuffed
  • 9—Very uncomfortable, stomach hurts
  • 10—So full you feel sick

To eat naturally, the way a baby does, eat when your hunger is at 3 or 4. Don’t wait until your hunger gets down to 1 or 2. Getting too hungry can lead to overeating. When you sit down to a scheduled meal, stop and think how hungry you are. If you feel less hungry than usual, make a conscious effort to eat less food than usual. Stop eating when you reach 5 or 6 on the scale.

When it’s time to eat, make healthy choices

For your body to be truly satisfied, your meals need to be balanced. This means that each meal should contain:

  • Carbohydrate. You get this from grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Protein. You get this from meat, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, dry beans, and nuts.
  • Fat. You get the kinds of fat that help you stay healthy from:
    • Fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. These have omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Olive, canola, and peanut oils; most nuts; avocados; and olives. These have monounsaturated fats.
    • Safflower, corn, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and cottonseed oils. These have polyunsaturated fats.

Your meals should contain tastes that you like and want. This also helps you feel satisfied.

Learn when to stop eating

Try to stop eating before you get too full. Too full is uncomfortable. It means you ate too much.

Get in touch with what “satisfied,” or “pleasantly full,” feels like for you.

  • Relax before you start eating, and then eat slowly. Remember that it takes some time for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full.
  • Stop a quarter of the way through your meal, and check your hunger level. If you’re still hungry, keep eating, but stop again at the halfway point. No matter what your parents taught you, you don’t have to clean your plate.
  • Learn what proper portions are. We’re used to restaurant portions, but restaurant portions usually contain much more food than we need.

Don’t deny yourself

Lots of people think that healthy eating means never having dessert or french fries or any of the things they love to eat. That’s wrong.

Your appetite, which can include a desire for sweets or other less-than-healthy treats, is a strong body signal. And part of keeping your body at that “satisfied” level on the hunger scale is eating tastes that you like and want.

If we try to have an eating plan that cuts out all treats, we probably won’t stay with that plan. In fact, we’re more likely to go “off the wagon” and eat too much of those foods.

But it’s important to recognize when it’s your appetite talking instead of your true hunger. Knowing which body signal is talking can help you control what you are eating.

If you’re eating healthy and listening to your body signals, a piece of birthday cake or an occasional order of french fries can fit into your healthy eating plan. When the holidays come around, it’s okay to eat the traditional foods you love. Just keep listening to your body signals and eat only enough to reach that “satisfied” level.

A few more tips

  • Try not to let your hunger drop to a 1 or 2 on the hunger scale. When you get that hungry, you’re likely to eat faster, make poorer food choices, and keep eating past the “satisfied” point.
  • On the other hand, let yourself feel some hunger between meals. Mild hunger is a good thing. After all, it’s a sign that you’re not overeating. Teach yourself to appreciate hunger pangs as a natural part of life, as a sign that you’re a healthy eater.
  • Give cravings 10 minutes. When you suddenly feel the need to eat, tell yourself that you will wait 10 minutes. If it was only a craving, you will have forgotten about it by then, and the urge will be gone. If 10 minutes goes by and you still have the urge to eat, you may be starting to get hungry.
  • Don’t eat more now because you think you might not have time to eat later. Eat what your body needs now, and worry about later, later.
  • Some people find that it’s easier to schedule lots of small meals throughout the day. Other people do better with “three square meals.” Whichever you choose, try to eat on a regular schedule every day, according to how hungry you usually get. Eating regular meals can help you be more aware of hunger and fullness.
  • Does leaving food on your plate drive you nuts? Take smaller servings. Save leftovers for another meal. Share plates with someone. Ask yourself what’s more important—a few bites of “wasted” food, or your health?
  • When you eat, make your food the main attraction. Sit down at the table with your family. Don’t eat in front of the TV. Don’t read while you eat. Give your attention to what you are putting in your mouth, how it tastes, and how your body reacts to what and how much you’re eating.

Japanese doctor, in an event organized by the publisher Wisdom House in estern Seoul, Tuesday.

Koreans on fad diet after Japanese doctor says hunger brings health

Readers of the book “Being Hungry Makes You Healthy” listen to the presentation by the author Yoshinori Nagumo.

By Yoon Ja-young
Lee, who heads the marketing team at a local publisher, shed 17 kilograms in 52 days to now weigh 109 kilograms. The only change he made was discarding the long-term belief that one should eat three meals a day to be healthy. “I only have lunch now. I used to have three meals a day but no matter how much exercise I took, I didn’t lose any weight,” Lee recollects.
He is one of many Koreans who are trying the one meal a day diet, currently the most popular method in Korea. The craze started with the book “Being Hungry Makes You Healthy” by Yoshinori Nagumo, a Japanese doctor, which was released here in September.
It has been receiving wild acclaim since then. It entered the top 10 best-seller list at major bookstores only two weeks after hitting the shelves and is still ranked 12th in the best-seller list of Yes 24, the country’s biggest online bookstore. It is first in the health, hobby and practical books category. In Japan, it has sold over 600,000 copies.
An online community dedicated to the diet has nearly 6,000 people exchanging tips and experiences of the diet on portal site Naver.

Full lion wouldn’t attack rabbit
Hundreds of readers gathered at a lecture by Nagumo in eastern Seoul, Tuesday. His assertion is that the longevity mechanism of the body is activated when one is hungry. Eating only once a day not only helps shed kilos but also keeps one young-looking and healthy, according to the doctor who seems at least 15 years younger than his actual age, 57 — a good way of marketing his theory.
Nagumo said that he weighed around 80 kilograms in his 30s, excessive when considering he measures just over 170 centimeters. Obesity caused him problems such as back pain and an irregular heartbeat. They became so severe that he decided to lose weight.
He first calculated calories as most of people do when they start diet. “It was very bothersome. I gave up after a few weeks. I thought of my own way and decreased the number of dishes I ate. I just had rice, porridge, and a side dish. Then I started losing weight.”
He went further, switching to children’s portions. He lost more weight. “Until that time, I thought eating three meals was good for one’s health.”
He began to feel sleepy after lunch, which was problematic as a surgeon. So he gave up lunch. He sometimes skipped breakfast if he felt full or had no appetite in the morning leading to having one meal a day.
“I not only lost weight, but also felt healthier and younger. I didn’t know the reason, so I started researching why one meal a day is good for one’s health.”
He pointed out that a full lion wouldn’t attack a rabbit even if passing immediately in front of it. Man, however, would eat again at lunch even if only a little while has passed since breakfast. He said the 170,000 year history of mankind has been a fight against hunger. “The genes that are nutrition-effective survived. People evolved in the way that they gain weight with the small amount of food they eat.”
He asserted that people get healthy while their stomach is empty. “Animals’ immunity level falls when they are full due to adipocytokines. It hurts cells of the vessels, causing sclerosis. When one is hungry, however, protein hormone adiponectin lets the vessels recover. Animals rarely have sclerosis but as men eat even if they are not hungry, adiponectin doesn’t work, leading to sclerosis,” he explained.
Nagumo said that one should feel hungry — or make their stomach vacant — at least once a day to avoid disease. When one is hungry, growth hormones and sirtuin are also activated, both of which keep people feeling young, he added. However, he doesn’t recommend the diet for children and slim women who haven’t gone through menopause. He also added that one should eat something more when the stomach makes sounds due to hunger.
Doctors skeptical about new diet
Most doctors disagree with Nagumo’s ideas.
“One may think that one meal a day may help people lose weight as they will take in less calories but it isn’t that simple,” said Dr. Son Bodeuri at obesity clinic 365mc Gangnam.
“As we absorb less energy, the consumption of energy such as the basal metabolism also decreases. It can cause gradual weight gain. Moreover, if the stomach continues to be empty for long hours — 18 to 20 — the hormonal system strengthens the storing of energy. In other words, the food you eat more easily turns into fat and much of the fat is stored,” she said. She added that an extreme plan of having only one meal a day may strengthen one’s desire for food, which may result in overeating or consuming more fatty foods.
Another assertion by Nagumo is that one should eat before going to bed, which is contrary to common medical belief. We know that eating at night can lead to weight gain as well as causing reflux esophagitis. But Nagumo says that the parasympathetic nerve, which becomes active in the evening, helps digestion and absorption. “It is true that one gains weight when they sleep after eating but that fact enables people to carry out their daily activities the next day by having just one meal a day.” Nagumo said it is the instinct of animals, including men, to sleep after eating. “Animals in hibernation burn fat to survive. Men should be asleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. to burn fat while they are in deep sleep, similar to hibernation,” he said.
After listening to his lecture, this reporter, who has believed that skipping meals can be detrimental to one’s health, still doubts whether one meal a day would be healthy. Most of all, the majority of doctors tell a different story. This reporter probably wouldn’t try Nagumo’s diet.
Even so, there was a lesson learned. Health problems rarely come from eating less these days. Mostly, it is about eating too much. Maybe we should worry more about how we may harm ourselves by what we are eating and how much of it we consume.

Why A Little Hunger Can Be Healthy

With my clients, and in general, I like to focus on the positive, such as what to eat rather than what not to eat and what to do rather than what not to do. But after spending time with my clients, they often tell me, “I didn’t know what I was doing wrong before; now I get it.” I’m always happy to hear that, because it means they’re not just following my advice, they’re understanding the logic behind my recommendations. That’s key because when you’re in the dark, you’ll just unknowingly perpetuate the patterns that work against you. That said, one of the most common missteps I see that keeps people from getting results is being afraid to get hungry.

Intense hunger, when you can’t concentrate, you’re irritable, and you want to shove the first thing you see into your mouth, doesn’t feel good. But mild to moderate hunger is normal, and it’s something you should be experiencing about four times a day. It’s a signal that your metabolism is in gear, that you’ve used up or burned off the previous meal and that it’s time to refuel for the hours ahead.

Many of my clients eat on a schedule, which is great, but they’re never really hungry, which is an indication that they’re eating too much. And a little extra food day after day can be what’s causing them to hang onto those unwanted pounds. In other words, even when you’re eating super healthy meals, in the right balance, at the right times, if you’re never hungry you’re probably eating more than your body needs to reach and maintain your ideal weight.

If this sounds familiar, try an experiment: Eat a balanced breakfast, like a small bowl of cooked oats topped with fresh fruit and nuts with a glass of skim or soy milk, then pay attention to how long it takes you to feel physical sensations of hunger. You shouldn’t be starving, but you should feel a little stomach rumbling. If you’re still not hungry five hours after the meal, try cutting back a little on your portions the next day. The goal is to establish a steady hunger/fullness pattern –you want to be hungry when you wake up, then mildly hungry every three to five hours after that. Hunger is kind of like your body’s built-in meter for keeping you in balance – embrace it (again not intense, but mild to moderate hunger) and use it to your advantage.

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Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she’s a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

  • By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

How is the charitable food sector addressing food insecurity?

The charitable food sector, including institutions like food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and feeding programs, is working together to address food insecurity while promoting health.

Hunger-relief efforts are increasingly contributing to health-focused initiatives through healthcare partnerships, targeted programming, and nutrition education. Spotlights of initiatives led by Feeding America and peers in the sector can be found on the Hunger + Health Blog.

Food Insecurity Research

Research is integral to better understanding the causes and effects of food insecurity. While additional research continues to emerge, visit this blog post for a non-exhaustive list of notable articles that provide a gentle introduction to food insecurity research. These have been recommended by the Technical Advisory Group at Feeding America®.

Further research which has been submitted to this site and related resources can be found here.

How is Feeding America working to understand food insecurity?

Below are a sample of studies conducted by or for Feeding America that help us further understand the connection between food insecurity and health. For Feeding America’s complete research portfolio, visit feedingamerica.org.

Project and Studies:

The State and Local Healthcare Costs of Food Insecurity

Research using data from Map the Meal Gap and other national datasets indicate that food-insecure households face additional healthcare costs in every county in the U.S., totaling $52.9 billion in healthcare costs in 2016 – but this varies substantially around the country. To illustrate the healthcare costs associated with food insecurity at the local level, Feeding America created an interactive data visualization on Tableau using a study published in Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the US Centers for Disease Control.

The State of Senior Hunger in America

The State of Senior Hunger in America report series documents the prevalence of food insecurity among the senior population age 60 and older in the United States. It examines the demographics and characteristics of seniors who lack access to enough nutritious food and identifies geographic variation in food insecurity among seniors, providing rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. New as part of the 2019 release, a parallel report explores the same issues as faced by older adults age 50-59. A separate report, produced periodically, explores health implications for seniors who are food insecure.

Comprehensive Diabetes Self-Management Support from Food Banks: A Randomized Controlled Trial

This study, published in 2018 by Feeding America in partnership with subject matter experts from University of California San Francisco and the Urban Institute, evaluated the effectiveness of food bank interventions on outcomes for adults living with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

Bringing Teens to the Table: Teens and Food Insecurity in America

This study, published in 2016 by Feeding America and the Urban Institute, explores the experiences, coping strategies and viewpoints of teenagers dealing with food insecurity in 10 communities across the U.S.

Hunger in America 2014

Hunger in America was a series of quadrennial studies that provided comprehensive demographic profiles of people seeking food assistance through the charitable sector and an in-depth analysis of the partner agencies in the Feeding America network that provide this assistance.

In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials

Published in 2013, In Short Supply is a study demonstrating the struggle of many low-income families in the U.S. to afford basic, non-food household items. Families report using a variety of coping strategies when they are unable to afford personal and household care items. Some of these strategies, such as altering eating habits and delaying other healthy habits to afford non-food items, raise concerns about potential risks to the health and well-being of many families with children.

Do you have to be hungry to lose weight

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