It’s stunning how often we eat out of boredom, nervousness, habit, or frustration—so often, in fact, that many of us have actually forgotten what physical hunger feels like. If you’re hankering for a specific food, it’s probably a craving, not hunger. If you’d eat anything you could get your hands on, chances are you’re truly hungry. Learn how to recognize these feelings mistaken for hunger, then find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom. But talk to your doctor if you think you’re always hungry for a medical reason. Here are 10 medical reasons you might be hungry.
Cut back on calories. The most important part of losing weight is not working out until you collapse — it's your diet. If you burn 500 to 750 more calories than what you eat every day, you will lose 1–2 pounds every week (any more than that is considered unsafe weight loss). There are tons of little changes you can make to cut calories from your diet, from replacing high-calorie dressings with vinaigrette and asking for all dressings/sauces served on the side, eating at the table instead of in front of the tv, skipping cheese and other fatty additions to your salads and meals, using smaller plates, leave off the whipped cream on your coffee drink, and on and on.
“Don't like eating meat?” asks Ginger Hultin, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Seattle and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Then don't be paleo! Travel a lot and rely on eating out? The DASH diet may end in frustration for you.” The bottom line: The diet you choose needs to be safe and effective, while taking into account your lifestyle.
The main advantage of the low-carb diet is that it causes you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, while avoiding them may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to have an appropriate number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.
Thanks to the hormone estrogen, the female body likes to hold on to fat, too. A study in Obesity Reviews shows that women store fat more efficiently than men in an effort to prepare the body for pregnancy. But while it seems like women may have drawn the short-end of the stick, the stereotypical pear-shape is actually considered healthier than boasting a beer gut, because belly fat is a red flag when it comes to your health. “Visceral fat is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” says Harris-Pincus.
Repeat after us: It’s time to start eating clean. She recommends a combination of veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, low-fat dairy and lean protein like poultry, eggs and fish for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. And drop the added sugar while you’re at it. “Studies show that when you have a diet rich in whole grains — and calorie-controlled — that you can reduce the belly fat,” she says. But remember to watch your portions, too. “A lot of people eat very healthy and don’t eat junk, but their portions are too large.”
Lifestyle plays an even bigger role in belly fat — it's essential that you eat right and work to keep stress at bay, he explained. Of course, walking can help with both of these things, but together they're a factor in how much belly fat you're able to burn. "Too many things contribute to say just one thing will make losing belly fat easier," Goelzer said.
Sugary soda, packed with empty calories, is obviously a diet disaster, but even the no-calorie version can expand your waistline. A 2012 study published in the journal Obesity found that regular soda was associated with increased waist size and abdominal fat, but diet soda was associated with increased waist size, BMI, and total percentage of fat. One theory why this happens is the artificial sweeteners in diet soda don't produce the responses your body expects when you eat something sweet. So, the sweet taste of a diet soda triggers a message to your body to expect an influx of energy, which won't arrive since there are no calories in diet drinks. This interferes with your body's hunger signals and causes you to crave (and consume) additional calories to make up for the lack of calories in diet soda. (Not to mention, diet soda has also been linked to stroke and dementia.)
Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.
In a 2012 study in the journal Obesity, subjects who increased their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams a day—the equivalent of two small apples, one cup of green peas, and one half-cup of pinto beans—reduced visceral fat by 3.7 percent after five years. Even more, participants who also engaged in moderate physical activity (exercising vigorously two to four times a week) experienced a 7.4 decrease in visceral fat over the same period of time.
Cayenne pepper: Hot peppers will increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and boost your metabolic rate at the same time. They are also one the best foods to reduce inflammation in your body. Capsaicin, found in cayenne pepper, can increase calories burned after consumption. A study in the British Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when subjects consumed capsaicin for weight maintenance, fat oxidation (the breakdown of fat) was increased. Capsaicin may also stimulate the production of AMPK, leading to further breakdown of fat. Try adding cayenne pepper to recipes like chicken tenders for an extra fat-burning effect or try a detox drink with cayenne pepper.
If you get enough protein and fat, your total calorie intake should take care of itself. Because you feel full, you won't binge on a can of Pringles and blow your calorie count for the day. The remaining 45 percent of calories in our plan comes from carbohydrates — enough to give your palate a full range of tastes and your body a combination of fast- and slow-burning fuel.
“A lot of people think the foundation of a paleo diet is high-fat meat, but I suggest that it’s vegetables,” says Hultin. The concept is to eat only foods — including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. This means grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt are all no-no’s.
Nutrisystem is so accessible, you can even grab it at your local Walmart. There are a few different plans to choose from, but each of them has you eating 4 to 5 times a day — and every meal and snack is high-protein, high-fiber, and contains zero trans fat, MSG, or artificial preservatives. Those who use this diet are said to lose an average of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
When fat is stored close to the vital organs, it’s easier for this fat to get into the bloodstream and circulate through the entire body. This leads to problems such as clogged arteries, hypertension and even problems with metabolic functions in the body. Several hormones are involved in accumulation of belly fat, including insulin, ghrelin, leptin and cortisol. Here are some of the ways that the “modern lifestyle” can cause belly fat to start increasing:
Even if you do meet your goal, it's nearly impossible to keep off the weight over the long term: "The amount of restriction required [to maintain that number] will make you so hungry that you’ll eat everything in sight—it’s survival instinct," Dr. Seltzer says. And since calorie restriction gradually slows your metabolism, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you binge on, he adds. That could mean gaining more pounds than you lost in the first place.
The Mediterranean diet is a balanced diet and it is in accordance with the dietary guidelines. In fact most of the guidelines suggested are based on Mediterranean diet principles and the majority of the recommended foods are taken from the Mediterranean diet food pyramid. The endorsed distribution of fat, protein and carbohydrates for a healthy diet is:
It's a one-time investment you'll never regret. Here's why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories — at work or at rest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more lean muscle you have, the faster you'll slim down. How do you start strength training? Try some push-ups or a few squats or lunges. Use your free weights to perform simple bicep curls or tricep pulls right in your home or office. Do these exercises three to four times per week, and you'll soon see a rapid improvement in your physique.
If you think that sounds too easy or too fast, go ahead and give it a shot. You may find you can’t even finish. But that’s okay — you can just start with a lower number of reps, like eight, and work your way up as you improve your fitness. If you're on the other end of the spectrum and you want an even greater challenge, you can always take a breather and repeat the routine.
That said, targeting your belly fat with crunches will not work. “Spot reduction isn’t a viable approach to losing belly fat," explains fitness trainer and nutrition expert Corey Phelps, creator of the Cultivate by Corey app. "But there are some great core-focused exercises that will torch fat all over the body resulting in a strong more chiseled core.”
Ultimately, you need to pick a healthy eating plan you can stick to, Stewart says. The benefit of a low-carb approach is that it simply involves learning better food choices—no calorie-counting is necessary. In general, a low-carb way of eating shifts your intake away from problem foods—those high in carbs and sugar and without much fiber, like bread, bagels and sodas—and toward high-fiber or high-protein choices, like vegetables, beans and healthy meats.
The theory behind carb cycling and weight loss is that it optimizes your body’s metabolic needs. So the theory goes, while in a low carb period, your body sharpens insulin sensitivity, produces glucagon to help you burn fat, and becomes metabolically streamlined. These are great things. Yet if you persist in being too low carb for too long your thyroid hormone levels will drop, and your insulin sensitivity may actually worsen. In short: you may gain weight.
Awesome news: Turns out marathoning for an hour on the treadmill isn't only boring as hell, but it doesn't even give you that great of a workout. Experts say if you're trying to flatten your abs, one of the most effective methods is actually interval training, which means incorporating short bursts of high-intensity burnouts into whatever you're doing, whether that's running, squats, whatever. And bonus — it'll keep you burning calories for up to 16 hours post-exercise. Um, we'll take it.
If you are a vegan and cannot have fish to get your day’s dose of omega 3 fatty acids, you can eat chia seeds that are equally high on omega-3 and are a best plant-based source of omega 3 acids. However, your body needs to work a little to convert the alpha-linolenic acid in these seeds into DHA or EPA that directly comes from fish oil. Apart from omega 3 acids, chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants, calcium, iron and dietary fiber which helps you feel fuller for longer. The diet book, ‘The Aztec Diet’ suggests having 4-8 tbsp (1-2 oz or 30-60 g) of chia seeds during a day to keep you less hungry and prevent you from overeating. However, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to is a good amount to include in your daily diet
Use it to lose belly fat: It's fine to enjoy a glass of wine or clear liquor every so often with a meal. But avoid soda and sugary mixers, like those used for daiquiris and margaritas. The good news? There's no need to cut out booze completely. In fact, a 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that normal-weight women who consumed a light or moderate amount of alcohol gained less weight and had a lower risk of becoming overweight or obsess during nearly 13 years of follow-up than even non-drinkers. (That's why moderate alcohol consumption is one way to maintain a healthy weight over time.)
Bran muffins sound like a healthy breakfast option—with all that cholesterol-lowering oat bran, right? But the prepackaged ones found at the supermarket aren’t nearly as fresh or healthy as they claim, and they’re almost always oversized, packing in some 300 calories—about the same as a cream-filled doughnut! Many are also loaded with saturated fats butter and oil and contain upwards of 600 grams of sodium. Homemade is key when you’re trying to lose weight, so why not try making your own? While baking definitely does take more time than going to the store, you’ll reap the benefits of all your hard work spent in the kitchen.
Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
Belly fat isn’t just that pesky pudge over your waistband -- it can be a serious health risk. While some of your belly fat is that pinchable, under-the-skin kind (which can be annoying, but not a serious health concern) some of it is visceral fat, which surrounds your internal organs, pushes your abdominal wall out to create that lovely “beer belly” appearance, and directly contributes to heart disease.
Food preferences: Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating greens, you won’t like a diet filled with salads; but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes for meals might be more your speed. Consider a diet's overall approach to food and ask yourself, realistically, if you can eat the foods on this plan more or less for the rest of your life? And will you enjoy the foods on a given diet plan, or if it will feel like a “diet” food that you won’t be able to stick with long-term?
“It can take 12 minutes or longer for the signal that you’ve started to eat to make its way to your brain,” says Mark S. Gold, M.D., of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. Quick tips: Sip some water between every bite of food you eat, or at least eat more meals with friends or family members. You’ll be more likely to talk and therefore to eat more slowly.
Want to lose that belly fat? In your dreams! Seriously, though: a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to get rid of that extra fat around your waist for good. Among the 60,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who snoozed for fewer than five hours a night were at the greatest risk of becoming obese and gaining 30 or more pounds over the course of the 16-year study period when compared to those who slept for seven or more hours.
Lie on your back with knees bent to 90-degree angles. Straighten your arms by your sides, and lengthen your fingertips. Press the backs of your shoulders against a mat, and slide them down away from your ears. Focusing on the deep waist muscles, inhale and slowly move your knees to the right, then exhale and return to starting position. Repeat on the left; that’s 1 rep. Do 5–8 reps.
When you've got a lot of weight to lose, deciding where to begin can be super-overwhelming—but we've got a good place for you to start. We've talked to dozens of women who completely transformed their bodies—we're talking shedding 50-plus pounds—and pulled together a list of the eight simple changes they made that had the biggest impact on the scale. Their tried-and-true tips might be exactly what you need to get on the path to serious results. But don't just take our word for it: These women's results speak for themselves.
For some, this is the hardest part of life after a diet. Working out how much of each component make up a healthy, well-portioned and flavorsome meal can be tricky and takes a bit of practice. Nonetheless, it’s crucial if you’re going to maintain your optimum weight. If this aspect worries you, why not consider a meal delivery service where each ingredient comes pre-portioned? After a month or so, you’ll probably feel a lot more confident about how much you should be eating at any given meal.
Here’s how it works: You do 15 repetitions of the kettlebell swing (you can also use a dumbbell for this in a pinch), followed immediately by 15 reps of the squat thrust. Without resting, do 14 reps of the swing and then 14 reps of the squat thrust. Continue this pattern until you complete only one rep of each exercise. This is called a countdown workout.
You don’t have to go low-carb to ditch those extra pounds around your waist in a short period of time. In fact, opting for more whole grains might just get you there faster. Researchers at Tufts University have linked eating three or more daily servings of whole grains to as much as a 10 percent reduction in visceral body fat, the kind that ups your risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.