Your body needs food for energy, so it’s normal to feel hungry if you haven’t eaten for hours. If your stomach has a constant rumble, there are a few simple ways you can tweak your diet to feel fuller for longer.
We asked nutritionist Liam Mahoney, who works with Active Nutrition and Grenade, what you can do when you’re hungry no matter what. Here are his tips on how to curb hunger pangs…
Eat more protein
Protein is a staple of any healthy diet, with numerous studies showing that protein is the most filling and metabolism-boosting of all the macronutrients. To get more protein into your diet and curb hunger cravings it is important to try and consume protein at every meal.
Packing more protein into your diet can really help to keep hunger at bay, so opt for lean meats, lentils, eggs and oats to up your protein intake at meal times. If you’re looking for an easy way to get in protein, you could always snack on a protein bar instead of chocolate. I like Grenade’s Carb Killa bars, although of course others are available!
Up your water intake
Water intake is incredibly important for your overall health, but it can also help to make you feel full. The body finds it difficult to tell the difference between hunger and thirst, meaning that often when you feel hungry, a glass of water could do the trick. Aim to drink around 2-3 litres of water each day, and also try to incorporate water-based foods into your diet, such as broccoli, asparagus, or celery, as these too can help to control hunger pangs.
Cut back on starchy, sugary carbs
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy. However certain starchy, sugary carbs, such as white bread, cakes and cookies are nothing but empty calories that will leave you feeling incredibly unsatisfied. They will satisfy your hunger pangs for a very short period of time, but soon after you’ll be craving something else.
If your diet is packed with these kinds of foods, you’ll very rarely stay full and often end up craving more and more sugar, which isn’t good news for your health, or your waistline. Pay close attention to the nutritional content of the foods you’re eating. Fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with fibre, can help to keep hunger at bay and leave you with more energy too.
Eat little and often
Eating a large meal of refined, starchy foods will cause the sugar level in your blood to rise. Once that meal is digested your energy levels crash, and sugar cravings hit. This leads to the need for sugary snacks to refuel your body. Eating an entire bag of crisps or chocolate might satisfy a craving, but it won’t curb your hunger and you end up eating more.
But frequent small meals deliver manageable amounts of energy. This keeps blood sugar levels stable and hunger under control. It also helps the body function efficiently throughout the day.
Plan and prep
Planning and preparing what you’re going to eat means you make conscious choices about food. When you plan, your appetite may decrease. This means you’re aware of what you’re going to eat and so will be less likely to worry about cravings.
Food journaling is a great way of keeping track as it will encourage you to consider what you’re eating. You can make sure you’re eating foods that will satisfy your hunger and keep you full. It also makes it less likely that you’ll be caught short and reach for the nearest chocolate bar too.
Get more sleep
When sleep is interrupted or shortened, ghrelin, aka the ‘hunger hormone’ increases. Leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite, however, decreases. To keep your levels of ghrelin down, aim to get 8 hours of sleep. Avoid foods and meals high in sugar before bedtime, as they will cause a surge in blood sugar. This increases energy, which in turn will disturb your sleep, making you feel cranky and hungry the next day.