Today I’m going to address the issue of dealing with cravings and/or hunger pains when you’re attempting to lose weight and get in shape.

First, I would like to distinguish between cravings and hunger:

  • A craving, or appetite, is the desire for a specific type of food, most often related to conscious thought or the environment rather than to the needs of the body. For example, “I could really go for a California Burrito” or “Ice cream sounds good right now” are cravings.
  • Hunger is more general and occurs when your body urges you to replenish its fuel supply (it doesn’t matter if you’re already carrying more reserves than you’d like). Anything will satisfy hunger, from fresh fruit to fruit pie, even stale bread.

When you’re in a sufficient calorie deficit to lose weight, invariably one of these two symptoms will come up, most often hunger.

So how do you deal with it when it does?
You either feed it or you make progress. It’s as simple as that. I hate to sound like a downer, but that’s science; you can’t eat your cake and get abs too.

I’m not saying you won’t get in shape if you continue to eat; this is far from the truth. What is true is that you will experience hunger almost every day that you’re losing fat. And you should actually spend more of your hours in this state than in the food-satisfied, or worse yet, food-coma state. Cravings won’t be as big of a deal because wanting food in general is a stronger drive than fantasizing about a specific type of meal.

Even if you are a very active person or you do a lot of cardio, you will still get the appetite when your fuel supply drops low enough. And it’s getting through these moments that is the key to fat loss. It’s essentially the workout, and you get guaranteed results. You’re either in, or you’re out.

I don’t know of very many people (even genetically gifted) who stay in razor sharp condition; who also don’t take their diet very seriously. The irony is that if you work hard enough at it, people will assume you’re genetically gifted.

I’ve come to accept this and now I actually seek huger, knowing that it is part of the lean lifestyle.


One response to “Cravings

  1. I agree about seeking out hunger, rather than avoiding it. It’s how I know I’m on the right path. I’m wary of stepping on the scale too often because the fluctuations can be so frustrating. Now that I’m back on track after a long plateau, I’ll probably just weigh in once a week or so. On a daily basis, calorie counting/ estimating (not too strictly, but I have to keep track in some way) + hunger is the way to go.

    And I know I’m *really* on track when I feel hunger in the morning! Dinner is my biggest meal, including when I’m in a deficit, so that happens less often than early- or mid-afternoon hunger (which is very common for me during a deficit.) And it certainly never happens when I’m in a surplus.

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