Real Physical Hunger 🤤

Today I’m going to explain a concept that is the answer for why we are so confused so often about how much we’ve been eating.  When you have incessant urges to overeat, then one of the reasons is likely because of your thoughts about hunger and how much of it you—or can’t—tolerate.

If we back up a little bit to remind ourselves why weight loss for fitness- and mindset-savvy women is difficult sometimes, it’s because we are overeating.  Overeating is an action that we repeatedly do when we experience two things: urges and hunger.  

Urges are that intense desire that I covered in great detail in previous articles (this is a good place to start 👈). That is where most of your work will be when undoing your urges to successfully lose weight and it’s meaningful because it’s the work that will ensure your results last.

Today, let’s talk about the other component to overeating, which is hunger.  After this article, you will understand so much more clearly and easily why what you are eating is causing weight gain or stalled weight loss, and then what to do about it.  It will actually help you understand your urges a lot better and will propel your work towards undoing them.

And I want to make this 100% clear… This article is not meant to make you feel bad about what you eat or don’t eat, it is strictly educational and geared towards making you question how you want to eat—not how you’ve been eating.  We are focusing on where we’re going, not beating ourselves up for how we got here.  

Remember, if there is one thing I will ever tell you to do it’s to never again beat yourself up.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and if you want to undo your urges around food so that you can finally keep the weight off, then you need to understand this information about food and your physiology in order to decide on purpose how you want to go forward from here.   

When did hunger become such a problem for weight loss?

Think about how you physically feel after you’ve eaten one cupcake vs. one whole egg with three slices of bacon.  Specifically, how you physically feel within 10-15 minutes of only eating either a cupcake or an egg with three slices of bacon.

Only one meal will actually give you the physical sensation of legitimate fullness, whereas the other meal will not be as filling and you’ll most likely get hungry again within the hour.  The thing is, both meals had the same amount of energy, or calories, that entered your body.  

Right now, I’m not even talking about the type of calories, meaning protein or carbohydrates or fats; I’m only talking about physical fullness.  

So many of us no longer know what true fullness feels like.  Thanks to all the dieting we’ve done over the years, some of us have been telling our body when it’s full rather than letting ourselves feel when fullness is achieved.

It’s not just the years of dieting that have skewed how we think about hunger and, therefore, how we feel about it. Part of the reason hunger is a problem for us when trying to lose weight is because of the kind of foods we eat.

Your body is very good at telling you when you’re physically full and when you’re physically hungry.  There are hormones in your body dedicated to sending those specific signals.  

🟣 Ghrelin: You have the hormone ghrelin, which is located mainly in your stomach and sends the hunger signal.  You’ll know when ghrelin is out when your tummy is growling, and you can feel it in your stomach.  

🟣 Leptin: The hormone that tells you when you’re full is called leptin.  Leptin actually resides in your fat cells and not only tells you when you’re physically full, but it also signals you when to move.  Have you ever noticed that you can’t sit for too long?  That you get the itch to at least get up and move around?  That’s leptin signaling to you to move your body.  

So, you see, the human body was designed to eat and move.  Those are facts that you can rely on about your amazing body.

So, let’s tie this in with hunger.  

Why do you notice your tummy growling typically within an hour after eating a cupcake vs. not feeling physical hunger for a long while after eating an egg and three slices of bacon?  They each had the same amount of calories—a little over 200 calories each meal—but why do they feel physically different in your body?  

The reason is because of the structure of the food.  And this is where most people understand the surface level of processed vs. whole foods, but I’m going to go deeper than that to help you understand how it actually ties into urges and your weight. 

Your body never, ever stops burning calories

Your body is designed to take in energy and put it to use.  It will always do that until the day you die.  The hormone Insulin is the workhorse behind that task.  

Food is energy—that is how our body interprets food.  It also labels the fat on your body as energy.  All food you eat will be converted to energy, and any extra energy is stored away for later use.  Stored energy is fat, and the more energy we eat that we don’t use, the more fat we gain.

But not all “energy” or food feels physically satiating.  Feels physically filling to you. Why is that and what foods DO create physical fullness?  And why is physical fullness important?  

The reason I am asking you to consider these questions is because you’ve been searching for years for a diet to follow that you can feel full and safe doing.  

And I’m going to tell you that the only diet that YOU will follow, that you will want to want to do, is the one that will ensure you keep your weight loss results for the rest of your life.  So, what diet do you follow? 🤔  

You adhere to the one that you decide is how you want to eat for the rest of your life.  

That’s the only way to eat that will sustain results, that will sustain results because you want to keep them, without despair, resentment, confusion, or frustration.  

But, you understand that you can’t eat all the cupcakes whenever you want and lose weight.  It’s true, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the picture forever and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without.  

You will have to adjust your food plan (or daily menu) as you lose weight, but your body is so smart and adaptable, that you can increase the amount of food you eat after you’ve lost the weight without gaining all the weight back.  This is known as reverse dieting, which I work on with my clients once they’ve gone through the Undoing Urges Weight Loss Program.  

Calorically-dense foods & hunger

A cupcake has the same amount of energy as bacon slices and an egg, but it’s not physically satiating because you’re hungry again and much sooner.  Most processed foods, or anything that has been altered from its natural form, are calorically-dense foods, meaning they pack a ton of calories for the small volume that they are.  These foods are the familiar foods made primarily with sugar, flour and other ingredients you don’t typically keep in your own kitchen.  

Most of these foods have also been stripped of the majority of their nutrients and fiber, so they are not physically filling nor are they providing you with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to perform well and function optimally.  

Remember, what I am telling you is not to make you feel bad in any way.  I am giving you the facts because this information will help you with your decisions moving forward from here.

Calorically-dense foods are still treated the same as all other foods by your body.  Meaning that, even though these foods didn’t physically satiate you, your body will take those calories and distribute them where needed.  Some will be used for actual energy, like walking to your car or going for a run, but not all calories will be used up for that.  Your body takes in only what it needs, and extra energy automatically gets stored away for later use.  

The thing is, the more calorically-dense foods we eat, the more gets stored for later use.  And when you’re feeling hungry again even though you’ve eaten calorically-dense foods, you tend to eat more, and that is overeating, even though you have plenty of energy.  

That is how mismanaged hunger contributes greatly to overeating.  

We tend to eat when we’re physically hungry—that’s why we have a hormone to remind us to consume energy.  But when we’re eating foods that aren’t physically satiating, our body is going to release ghrelin again and we’ll want to eat again… and again, and again.   

Nutritionally-dense foods

Now, let’s talk about whole foods, or as I prefer to call them, nutritionally-dense foods.  These foods are your vegetables, your fruits, your meats, your dairy, your complex carbohydrates.  These foods are typically lower in calories for their volume but fill you up amazingly well.  

Have you ever tried eating 200 calories of raw spinach?  You would get so physically full before getting halfway there because it’s A LOT of spinach. 

That’s the beautiful thing about nutritionally-dense foods.  Not only are they physically satiating, but they contain all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs to function beautifully and at its best.  That’s why they’re called nutritionally-dense foods.  

Maybe you’ll have noticed your nails or hair getting brittle over the holiday season… it’s not necessarily due to the cold.  We tend to cut out protein and vegetables and eat more calorically-dense foods like cookies, candy, pies, etc., which deprive us of nutrients, and your body starts to show that deficiency.

That’s not meant to scare you at all, because obviously your body is still up and running and doing your daily things, but you can see how the quality of foods you eat can either add or take away from your body being at its best.

Now, there are some foods that are both calorically-dense and nutritionally-dense.  Those foods are foods like avocados, nuts, oils, fatty meats, cheeses, and seeds like chia seeds or flax seeds.  

When it comes to weight loss—meaning, strictly losing fat—it doesn’t matter if you only eat calorically-dense or nutritionally-dense foods… If you eat too much of either, you will gain weight.  You can lose weight on cupcakes if you’re in a caloric deficit—just as true as you can gain weight on spinach if you’re eating a caloric surplus of it. 🥗  

The thing is, it’s almost physically impossible to overeat nutritionally-dense foods because you get physically full so much more quickly and so much more efficiently because of the fiber, water, and nutrient content in these foods.  It’s very, very easy to overeat calorically-dense foods because they don’t keep you full for as long or as well as nutritionally-dense foods.  

And you can eat both and still lose weight—and that’s where you want to honestly factor in how you want to eat and live the rest of your life.  

If you eat nothing but cupcakes for the rest of your life, then you will lose weight, but you’ll lose so much more in terms of nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals, and you won’t feel great.  You’ll be nutritionally-deprived, and your body will greatly suffer.  It’s like being happy about getting the flu; you feel physically terrible and miss out on so many things in your life, but at least you lost 5lb!  

That’s where the work with undoing urges is so important because if you don’t have urges for calorically-dense foods like cupcakes, or even urges for consuming lots of nutritionally-dense foods like sweet potatoes or peanut butter, then you’re in control of the quality of your life for the rest of your life.

If you have a fear of hunger or feel like you’re disconnected from reading your hunger AND fullness signals, then join me in the Undoing Urges free Facebook group where we talk about this and more. I hope I get to see you there where I can help you more.