When you discuss making healthy lifestyle changes with people one question that always comes up is “How do I actually know when I’m hungry?”
This question comes up because all too often nowadays we eat out of boredom or stress or because it is fun and social and the food is delicious.
We aren’t really listening anymore to what our bodies NEED.
Many of us aren’t even really sure what true hunger feels like.
I found the best way to learn to eat only when I’m hungry is through intermittent fasting.
Through fasting I took the emphasis off of eating at certain times of days, off of having to eat certain meals even if I wasn’t hungry.
I gave myself time to truly get hungry. I also gave myself time to realize I wasn’t going to die if I didn’t eat immediately after the first hunger pangs.
Through fasting I was giving myself time to realize what hunger was. I wasn’t starving myself – I was still eating plenty of calories to support my daily activities; I was just eating them in a shorter period of time.
So through fasting I taught myself to understand when I was truly hungry.
But I was also teaching myself how to NOT eat when I wasn’t hungry.
It sounds like the same thing right? Eating when you are hungry and not eating when you aren’t hungry?
But it really isn’t.
Eating when you are hungry means you understand what hunger vs. boredom feels like.
But not eating when you aren’t hungry has everything to do with mentally overcoming the desire to eat when you know you are just bored….which is honestly probably the biggest battle.
Many of us know when we are stress eating…Yet all too often we still do it.
That is because not eating when we aren’t hungry isn’t as simple as eating when we are hungry!
Intermittent fasting also helped me with this because it forced me to really think about whether I was hunger and would want to break my fast or if I just wanted to eat for another reason.
Since I set out to not eat till a certain time, it gave me a goal, an incentive to not break my fast unless I truly was hungry.
It forced me to think and it gave me time to overcome my desire to eat even when I wasn’t truly hungry.
Now I only fast when I’m completely not hungry. Some days I don’t eat till the afternoon. Others I eat right upon waking. It all just depends on when I’m hungry.
Now I’m more in tune with my body.
I’m even more in tune with not eating when not hungry, although there are times when I most definitely slip up.
As I said before that is a mental and emotional battle that we all sometimes struggle with.
The key with it is to not get down on ourselves when we fail.
No matter how in tune you are with your body, you are going to occasional eat even when you aren’t hungry.
As I was thinking about eating only when you are hungry and searching for other opinions and articles, I stumbled onto Charlotte’s post over at The Great Fitness Experiment and loved the tips she gave the reader about NOT eating when you AREN’T hungry. It also really got me thinking about the difference between eating when hungry and not eating when you aren’t hungry.
While intermittent fasting helped me get more in tune with my body, it may not work for you. Check out some of her tips as well and start truly listening to what your body needs!
How did you help yourself become more in tune with your body?
Sidenote: Here is an interesting article on nutrition and sleep!
I’m definitely of the opinion that you should always continue learning – that you should always be seeking out new knowledge and growing.
However, constantly learning can be a double-edged sword if you don’t apply a filter.
The problem with constantly learning is that you are going to encounter lots of opinions that differ and even contradict what you are currently doing.
And while it is good to adjust your program as you learn and grow, there are also going to be times when you need to IGNORE the new information.
There are lots of different things that work and you can’t do them all…especially not all at once.
So while you want to try to incorporate the new things you learn, you must do it in a way that actually allows you to BENEFIT from all of your new knowledge.
That means not always chasing shiny new things and constantly doing the latest and greatest.
It means experimenting (aka actually giving something time to see if it works) with something new and seeing if it works and then deciding to keep it or not.
The more you learn, the more you will understand that you have to FILTER what you learn and pick and choose what to believe and apply.
While there are lots of things that work, you have to find what works for you.
All the learning in the world won’t help you get results if you don’t apply it appropriately.
While you want to continue to seek out and read new information, you need to process it for yourself.
I don’t do intermittent fasting every day, BUT I do think it is a very effective fat loss tool.
Of course, people thought I was crazy yesterday when I worked out in the afternoon without eating and didn’t eat till around dinner time.
One person even told me, “That it isn’t healthy.”
And yes, conventional wisdom tells you that you NEED to eat breakfast and not skip meals so not eating till dinner time does seem a bit crazy.
But is it?
In my opinion no, Intermittent Fasting (IF) isn’t crazy…especially if you aren’t eating a high carbohydrate diet and can be patient enough to get over the hunger pangs that occur when you first change your eating schedule.
If you are eating a high carbohydrate diet, then yes…it may seem like more of a challenge to get used to IF.
If you eat a high carb diet, you will experience more energy fluctuations throughout the day than someone on a lower carb, high fat and high protein diet. Your insulin will spike after each high carb meal, making you feel energized. Of course after the spike, your energy levels will dip, making you feel sluggish and tired.
When your energy levels dip, usually you feel hungry. This feeling of hungry caused by a high carb diet, and skipping those meals that your body feels it needs, does make doing IF more challenging and can make you feel light-headed at points.
Trust me…I’ve tried this and it wasn’t near as easy to get used to IF as it was with a high-fat, high-protein diet.
BUT if you do eat a lower carb diet that includes lots of fat and protein, you don’t have the constant energy dips and hunger pangs, which makes IF easier to do and an effective way to burn fat and gain muscle.
Just like calorie cycling and carb reloading (with potatoes and non grain carbs of course), doing IF every once in a while can keep your body guessing and stoke your metabolism.
Intermittent fasting can be challenging on either diet if you are used to eating at specific times of day. After a week or two of adjusting from your set meal times, you will feel like you have more consistent energy on IF.
Yesterday, I never felt hungry or like my energy was sagging. I got in a great workout too. All while on an empty stomach.
So tell me…how is that not healthy compared to a high carb diet with set meal times where you feel constantly hungry especially if you skip a meal?
If you need more convincing read this piece by an IF expert. Leangains wrote a great article debunking the Top Ten Fasting Myths.
Every day I hear the lies of conventional wisdom perpetuated and sometimes I just want to scream. Here are some things that I’ve heard recently that go along with conventional wisdom that are complete and utter BULLSHIT.
Piece of Conventional Wisdom: Women shouldn’t lift weights because heavy lifting will make them bulky.
Conversation (about six months ago):
Me: So what diet, or how much protein, do you think someone needs to add more muscle if they are lifting heavy?
Nutritionist: Why are you lifting heavy?
Me: Because I want more muscle and I want to be stronger. (I think I had an expression of “That is such a dumb question! DUH to get strong and add more muscle!”
Nutritionist: But you don’t want to get bulky do you? If you lift too heavy, you may get bulky especially if you are taking in a ton of protein.
Me: Uhmm…I still have chicken legs and I eat a ton of protein and have been lifting heavy for a while. I want to get rid of my chicken legs…
Nutritionist: Well I wouldn’t lift heavy as a woman. I do lots of cardio.
Me: (I left the room.) End of conversation.
REASONS THIS IS BULLSHIT: Let’s get one thing straight right now…LIFTING HEAVY WON’T MAKE YOU BULKY! If you can’t accept this…you are on the wrong website. I’m not even going to take the time to list all the reasons why this is incorrect. If you need me to refute this piece of conventional wisdom just read about any other post on this blog. Or just take a look at this picture…Is this a big bulky woman? I’d hope your answer is no….
Piece of Conventional Wisdom: You need to eat breakfast and you should eat 3-5 small meals a day. And you definitely can’t work out on an empty stomach.
I tried intermittent fasting a few months ago and really liked it. I told people about it. The common reaction I got was: “You won’t be able to lift as much on an empty stomach or you will run out of gas. Your workouts will be hurt because you haven’t eaten.”
Lots of people also said there was no way they could do it. They said they NEED breakfast. They DON’T NEED breakfast. They are just conditioned to want it.
REASONS THIS IS BULLSHIT: To date, I’ve had some of my best lifting days and workouts on days when I’ve fasted till after I workout. If you want more proof that intermittent fasting works, visit LeanGains.
Piece of Conventional Wisdom: 45-65% of your daily calories should come from carbs.
Conversation (When people find out that the only carbs I eat on occasion other than cheat days are fruits, vegetables, and potatoes.)
Person: I could never give up bread! And I need carbs to get through my workouts and to refuel afterwards.
Me: But on most diets you have to give up something. With other diets you’ve managed to give up “bad” foods like fatty meats. If simple carbs, like white bread, is bad and bacon isn’t, why can’t you just switch what you give up.
Person: But you need carbs to function. The food pyramid has carbs on it.
REASONS THIS IS BULLSHIT: Ok for one, most people aren’t working out hard enough to really NEED carbs. And if you are doing crossfit intensity workouts, add in potatoes and such and you will be more than fine.
For two, it is never easy living life the healthy way. Of course there are outside temptations, but really you’d rather eat bread than butter and bacon? I don’t know…butter and bacon for bread seems like a pretty good trade-off to me…Plus, doing something that will make you healthier makes sacrificing bread seem very worthwhile.
If you want more information about letting go of carbs and why you DON’T need them, visit Mark’s Daily Apple.
Piece of Conventional Wisdom: Bacon and butter are not good for you. High fat diets will raise your cholesterol higher and that is bad. Use vegetable oil or low-fat substitutes instead.
Conversation: There have been too many conversations about this with everyone around me. But the usual I hear is: “Dude all that saturated fat is so bad for you.” “You know that is going to raise your cholesterol? You really should use margarine instead.” “You cook with duck fat? You should use vegetable oil instead.”
REASONS THIS IS BULLSHIT: Usually when I hear these things, I become speechless because I don’t even know where to begin explaining how wrong they are.
I would just love for one of these people who say this to me to provide me with a study proving I’m wrong (a study that I can’t prove wrong). Of course they never do yet they question me (and I’ve actually done the research not to mention discussed the research with other people, such as Ryan, who’ve done even more research).
I mean I challenge anyone to bring me a study that definitively proves that fat is bad for you and that processed crap like vegetable oil, margarine and low-fat substitutes are better.
Here is my proof that fat is good and all that other CRAP is bad:
Mark’s Daily Apple
Good Calories, Bad Calories
For a full list of evidence, visit the UCLA Ancestral Health Symposium.
Oh and something that really pissed me off today….Denmark has put a tax on foods with saturated fat. This list of taxed items even includes olive oil. Does anyone else think there is something wrong with this? Check out the Time Magazine article on it.