When you set out to lose weight it’s pretty well known that you have to eat less than you were before. You can’t lose weight on a diet high in calories and junk food.

But does eating less mean you have to be hungry all the time?
Do you have to deal with hunger pains and a rumbling stomach all day?

Definitely not!

Weight loss doesn’t mean you have to be hungry. It just means you have to eat less calories than you burn on a daily basis.

Will you experience some hunger along the way? Yeah, a bit.
But if you do it the right way you can considerably reduce how hungry you get.

It’s inevitable that the change in food volume may leave you a little hungry. If you were eating a large Big Mac meal every night and now you start eating a salad, it’s going to take some getting used to.

That’s the first step:

Adjust your expectations

We’ve been so trained to eat until we’re sick that it’s all we know now. Fast food meals have steadily increased in size over the decades. Packaged food is easy for you to binge.

It’s very easy to overeat until you feel sick. You eat way more food than you actually need.

Adjust how you think and feel about being ‘full’.

Full does not mean you feel sick and can’t eat another bite.
It doesn’t mean you have to lay on the couch for 90mins after your meal.
It doesn’t mean you cleared your plate.

Full means you’ve eaten until satisfaction.

You should feel good after a meal, not sick and bloated.
You should feel satisfied and content.
You should NOT be forcing food down simply because it’s there.
And you should definitely not force food down because it’s what you usually eat.

I see this a lot. We get stuck in the trap of thinking “this is what I usually eat so anything less won’t fill me up”.

“I can’t eat just meat and veggies, I won’t be full from that!” – “I need 400g of chips to go with it”

You need to let go of this thought process and try it for a little while.

You’re so used to eating x amount of food that anything less is scary.
Try eating less for a few meals.

Sure, you may be a little hungry but I guarantee you’ll get used to it.

Do you have to be hungry to lose weight1

Reduce calories slowly

A big reason people fall into the ‘yo-yo diet’ trap is they go too fast. It’s unsustainable and makes it harder than it needs to be.

When you cut your calories drastically you automatically put yourself on the back foot. Your body doesn’t want to lose fat quickly. It is always fighting to maintain homeostasis – it likes to keep things balanced and stable.

If you start eating too little, you’ll be hungry because you are eating way less than before. Your body also recognises when you are eating less and stimulates production of a hormone called ghrelin to get you to eat more. [1]

This is an extremely useful thing when you are underweight and starving, but in today’s western society – more of us are on the other end of the spectrum.

Try lowering your calories by 10-15% for the first couple of weeks to ensure a nice and slow reduction in weight. This will make it easier and more sustainable.

Eat high protein

If there’s one ‘diet’ I would ever recommend, it would be high protein. And even then, it’s just a target for your food intake, not a ‘diet’.

Protein is like the magical macronutrient.
It helps to build muscle and recover.
It takes more energy (calories) to breakdown and digest.
And most importantly right now, it makes you feel fuller for longer.

A high-protein meal will make you feel fuller for way longer than a carb-heavy meal will.

How quickly can you go back to the pantry or fridge after a packet of chips compared to a few eggs or meat?

I recommend you aim for 1.5-2g of protein per kilo of body weight (use your goal weight if you’re overweight/obese).

For example, if you’re an 80kg woman trying to get 2g of protein per kilo. You want to aim for 160g per day.

If you hit that throughout the day, not only does that leave you with more calories to use on other food, but you will feel pretty full from all that protein.

Eat whole natural foods

Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your nutrition is to eliminate or reduce heavily-processed foods.

A recent study found that people who ate a diet full of heavily-processed foods ate 500 calories more than people who ate a diet full of whole, natural foods. [2]

These are foods that are heavily-processed and manufactured specifically to get you to eat more and buy more.

So, not only do you eat more food in total, resulting in weight gain – you don’t even feel as full. You have to eat 500 calories more to feel just as full as a whole, natural diet.

Or you do feel full, but you eat until you feel sick because of the addictive nature of these highly-processed foods.

As we spoke about earlier, neither of those options are good.

Stick to whole, natural foods for the majority of your diet and you’ll feel much more full and likely even eat less across the day.

Do you have to be hungry to lose weight2

Low calorie options

Another great strategy to help you feel more full is to replace calorie-dense foods with appropriate substitutes.

Cauliflower rice in place of regular, white rice can save you plenty of calories and fill you up just as much.

It’s not always the calories that make you feel full, it’s often how much food you actually eat and how much is in your stomach.

Substitutes like cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles help you to eat as much food, but not get the calories that come with the regular version of that food.

All in all, if you are serious about losing weight – you’re going to have to experience a bit of hunger. It’s your body’s natural response to lower calories.

This doesn’t mean you have to be starving, though. Try some of the methods above to make sure you stay as full as possible while losing the fat.

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