If you are trying to change your body composition, hunger is a good thing.
(1) Feel or suffer hunger through lack of food
If your goal is to get lean, you will likely be on a dietary plan that restricts the amount of food you eat. This will undoubtedly result in some amount of hunger as your body learns to function with fewer calories than its used to. And whether you eat three moderate sized meals per day or six smaller meals per day, the reality is that with less food, at some point you will be physically HUNGRY.
What do you do when this happens? If you are serious about losing weight, you deal with it. A certain amount of physical hunger is a good thing, because it means you are consuming less than what your body “needs” to maintain its current weight.
I’m not saying you should be famished or hungry to the point of feeling faint, as that would clearly mean you’re not eating enough for basic functioning; however, a little growl of your tummy at night before you go to bed (because dinner was 3 hours ago) can be a friendly reminder that you are doing the right thing. Resist the urge to have a snack before bed…you’re just going to sleep anyway, you don’t need to eat! You’ll have a nice healthy breakfast when you wake up in the morning.
Your diet will likely also restrict the kinds of foods you are allowed to eat, and as such you’re also likely to be “hungry” for things that are not on your diet plan. While most of these pains will be psychological (you don’t need Kettle Chips), some of them may be true physical withdrawals from highly addictive foods, like sugar. What do you do when you want something that you can’t have? Again, if you’re serious about your goal, you deal with it. Many of the things we love to eat – full of fat, sugar, and salt – are precisely what will hold us back from reaching our physique goals. I’m not saying you can never again have chocolate cake, linguine, or whatever it is that you love (shh…don’t tell Nate I said that!); however, during this “lean-up” phase, you must stay the course and not give in to the call (or scream) of these cravings.
How can you manage these nagging physical signals that keep coming at you? With yet another kind of hunger.
(2) Have a strong desire or craving for
How strong is your desire to reach your physique goals? In order to succeed, it must be greater than that of both kinds of hunger above (combined!). That’s a pretty tall order.
This is where it truly is mind over matter. This is the hunger you want to feed, and to use to your benefit. Believe in your mental fortitude, and use the motivation that is guiding you to make this change in your life. Are you training for an athletic competition? Do you have a special event coming up? Or are you finally putting you and your health at the top of your list of priorities? Whatever your reason, always keep this in the forefront of your mind, and use it as a shield to deflect – or sword to slay – the temptations when they attack. Who is more worthy of coming out victorious, you or that Oreo cookie? (See Nate, I can write with the Warrior theme!)
Whatever your reason, whatever your motivation, grab onto it and hold tight. Use some of the recommendations on our site to help you through the challenges and temptations you will face (stick with us, there will be more!). In time, the physical hunger will become more manageable, and by learning to harness your mental hunger, your desire for success will fuel your efforts to persevere, and help you achieve your goals.
If we were to meet The Most Interesting Woman in the Universe she might just say, “Stay Hungry, My Friends.”