Up until about 2 years ago, I was hungry all the time. To the point that if dinner was not in front of me by 7pm I would feel compelled to either faint or punch someone. Many of fights were had on the way out for dinner with my husband because I was so hungry and traffic (or him being late) would keep me from my food.
There were two primary reasons for my issue and once I figured them out, life looked a lot different. Incidentally so did my physique.
Reason 1 -Chronic Cardio
I know you’ve probably experienced some of the cardio shaming that goes on in the fitness inter webs. Cardio is what the big muscle-bound instagrammers make fun of when they’re not showing off their bums and biceps with a gym bathroom selfie.
I’m not going to cardio shame. I still do it (in moderation) and I feel that it keeps my cardiovascular system in good shape and it’s also great mental flossing. I feel like a good sweat on the bike or a short run can do wonders for my happiness.
But, back when I was pushing myself to run 40 miles a week, I was doing myself no favors. My chronic running habit kept my hunger (not my metabolic rate) on high all the time and I could never quite get enough of any thing.
I will say that the minute I stopped training for half marathons and took up a regime of strictly yoga for a few months (due to injury) I dropped a good 10lbs.
So while i”m not saying that you should give up endurance sports or aerobic classes because you seek out food like a squirrel, I am saying that it’s something you should be aware of. Try cutting back your cardio to 50 or 60% of your typical load and see how it impacts your appetite.
If you’re strictly a cardio person, try supplementing that extra workout time with some yoga, piyo or weight lifting. I think you’ll find that lower impact workouts might dial your hunger down a notch or two to a more controllable level.
Reason 2 – I was eating almost entirely refined carbs
I was a vegetarian and vegan for a LONG time and even today, I’m not far from it. For me, it’s about ethics and a deep compassion for all creatures. However, I know first hand how easy it is to eat nothing but bread, pasta and other starchy choices when you don’t want to eat animal products and that’s a slippery slope in terms of nutrition.
I’m not suggesting you have to eat animals to be healthy, but you do need to balance your diet and amp up your healthy fats and proteins. This is so important that I cannot stress it enough. Carbs should not be more than 20 to 40% of your diet and most of those calories should be from non-starchy veggies. Forget the rice, the oats, the bread and the spaghetti. The nutrient density of those foods is so paltry compared to their caloric density that it’s hard to win on that sort of a diet.
If you are a plant based eater, that’s great! Make sure your diet is filled with green veggies and lots of nuts, seeds and protein supplements,. Add maca powder and raw cacao to your smoothies for extra staying power. Coconut milk is also great for adding to satiety. If you’ll eat pastured, organic eggs, all the better, but if you find that you’re always hungry, note that this could be a macronutrient deficiency.
Certainly this is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it’s the best place to start when examining why you always seem to be heading to the fridge to fill the chronic hunger pangs that you can’t seem to get rid of.