NO MORE HANGER:
How to Stay Full In a Deficit
Do you get hungry just thinking about dieting? Hate the idea altogether? Envisioning yourself curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth licking a piece of celery starving half to death while you pray the scale goes down tomorrow?
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In this article I’m going to discuss tactics and tools you can use to fight the inevitable hunger that comes with being in a calorie deficit. Yes, your GF/BF can email me @ JLipsFitCoaching@gmail.com to thank me for curing your hanger. You’re very welcome.
Before we go into these super secret methods I want to get the least sexy thing out of the way now. Brace yourself. I promise it’s about as sexy as a Smart Car but equally practical..
Maybe…your deficit is………………TOO. BIG.
Hunger is inevitable. You’re taking in less than you’re burning. That’s just the way it is. But…if you’re having chronic + insatiable hunger that leads to binging on a regular basis, the first thing I would do before anything else is honestly ask yourself “Self, are you eating enough food or starving yourself like an asshole?”. Objectively assess your deficit % and decide if it’s leading you into a fight you just can’t win.
At its core, being in a deficit sends signals to our body that you’re not getting enough food (no shit sherlock). Your body’s not happy about this. One of the ways your body will fight this adaptation is to increase hunger so you inevitably eat your way back to your original weight. That being said, it’s not time to throw in the towel.
After diving into whatever studies I could find, years of working with clients online and in person, and a fair bit of experience doing this whole “eating” thing myself, these are some tools you can strap onto your dieting utility belt so you can fight the good fight without unbearable bouts of hanger.
Eat More “Satiating” Foods
There are two qualifications by which I would consider a food “satiating” even though they sometimes overlap
HIGH SATIETY foods (foods that make you feel full)
HIGH VOLUME foods (foods that take up a lot of room in your stomach for few calories. AKA you can eat more of them without taking in too many calories)
It might be unnecessary to make that distinction but I feel like the foods that we’re going to talk about don’t necessarily need to fit both criteria to be useful.
I may be oversimplifying to make a point BUT:
High satiety foods are satiating because of their fiber or protein content and lack of intense palatability (fancy way of saying they’re not foods that taste so ridiculously awesome that you’re tempted to overeat) –
Example: Boiled White Potato + Chicken Breast
Try eating your day of calories in white potato and chicken breast. You’ll be surprised how full you get.
High Volume foods are useful because you can eat a lot of them and they will fill up your stomach at the cost of very few calories
Example: Watermelon + Broccoli
Pictured above: 100 calories of Broccoli
(not really but you get my point)
Either way…eat more of these foods and you’ll feel less hungry. Kapeesh?
You’re probably sick of hearing how important eating enough protein is for muscle gain but it’s equally important in terms of satiety.
- Protein is the MOST satiating macronutrient (more than carbs or fat)
- Protein also has the highest “Thermic Effect of Food” or “TEF”. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that’s not necessarily relevant to satiety but it’s still important god damnit! Basically, your body burns the most calories when digesting protein in your body.
Generally speaking you’re going to want to primarily stick to LEAN(er) proteins. The leaner they are the more protein and volume per calorie (AKA MORE SATIATING). Also, leaner proteins are generally less palatable.
They taste like ass They aren’t as “delicious”. You’re less likely to overeat chicken breast than filet mignon.
Plain af Chicken/Turkey Breast – An oldie but a goodie. You’re going to get a ton of protein & not a lot of calories. From a satiety standpoint chicken/turkey is hard to beat.
Lean beef/pork – Red meat and pork get a bad rap. We can talk health issues regarding red meat and pork another time but if you’re picking lean cuts like flank steaks or pork tenderloin you’re going to get a good amount of protein per calorie.
0% Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese – I’m shocked at how underutilized these two are. If you’re in a fat-loss phase I would ABSOLUTELY incorporate these two. Extremely satiating, can easily combine with high volume fruits (see below) to make a low calorie, high protein, high satiety snack.
White Fish – Cod, Halibut, Branzino, Hake, Sea Bass, Tuna (honorary white fish) etc… – These are basically the chicken/turkeys of the ocean. They have a TON of protein, aren’t as fatty/caloric as Salmon, and are definitely a good option if you’re a fish lover. Sidenote…just be careful with your mercury intake.
Egg whites – I’m the king of “dear god please eat your f’ing yolks”. That being said, this article is about satiety not “micronutrient profiles” so egg whites are one of the best. Most people aren’t comfortable with meat/fish for breakfast (unless you’re a sick bastard like me) so making besties with egg whites is probably a good idea. If you don’t love them…………………..sriracha.
Why I didn’t put Protein Powder – As far as protein per calorie, Protein Powders are right up there with the best of ‘em. That being said, liquids are never going to be as satiating as solid food. They more useful as an “easy way to help hit your protein targets” than they do for satiety
If you read this entire article and the only thing you took from it was “MOM!!! WE NEED MORE GREEN VEGGIES….MOM!!!!” you will be well on your way to feeling better in a deficit (and if you’re over 20 and screaming “MOM!!” feel free to email me because we have other issues to discuss). Yes these vegetables still “have” calories. I put that in quotes because they are astronomically low in calorie for the amount of volume you get to eat. They are arguably your most powerful tool against hunger. AND…they’re like…healthy and stuff. (if you care about that hippy shit).
Asparagus – Ton of fiber. All the smelly pee
Broccoli – Lots fiber. Not a lot of cals. Looks like mini trees.
Cauliflower – That 1 pretty good white guy they let in the NBA.
Collard greens – get your BareBurger wrapped in these.
Swiss chard – Really big leaves. Something you make when you wanna sound fancy. Oh yeah it’s also…filling and low calorie
Kale – OMG SUPERFOOD ALERT – Just a really nutritious and filling veggie. Its only superpower is that it tastes like shit and might ruin your appetite so you eat less. JK kale is life 🙂
Spinach – Kale’s better tasting cousin. Thing to note: 1 entire bag of spinach will shrink into one ½ forkfull when cooked.
Brussels sprouts – The veggie you despise as a child but learn to love. One of my favorites. Super filling, intense sprout farts.
Cabbage/Kimchi/Kraut – Extremely filling and a nice change from all the “green”. Kimchi and Sauerkraut also provide a different flavor profile and some probiotic benefits. If you haven’t tried, I strongly recommend. Date an asian and go over to mom’s for dinner. You’ll be hooked.
But what are the “Best” fruits?
Any time we think of what the “best” anything is, we have to decide the context. In this case, we’re speaking strictly about satiety, not “overall health”. High satiety fruits are either fruits you get to eat a LOT of for not a lot of calories or they have to have enough fiber to make a difference. However…in general, most fruits are going to be more satiating than other carb sources or snacks. Fruit is always a good choice.
Avocado – While not extremely low cal it has a high fiber content. It’s also Gods gift to man. ½ avocado (~110 calories, 5g fiber)
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc – Not super high volume but good fiber content. (80 calories per cup + 4g fiber)
Apple (with skin) – around 5g of fiber per apple. (most of which is in the skin)
Kiwi – If you look closely at my professional resume, you’ll find “founding father of #KiwiKlan” under my most proud achievements. These fuzzy little fuckers may not be extremely high in volume but each one contains over 3g fiber. Not to mention they are on of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. If none of this convinces you, maybe the furry skin will kill your appetite. When did we all get so afraid of a little fuzz 🙂
Watermelon (high water content) – watermelon is like 91% water. A cup is less than 50 calories. Eat your water. Enjoy.
Strawberries – a 1lb container of strawberries is only 160 calories!! Dig in people. I put this separate from the other berries because, yes, blue/blackberries have more fiber BUT strawberries have the lowest calorie per volume and thus you can eat more of them. Both are good for different reasons.
Oranges – one orange is ~80 calories.
Want to make it clear that fruit, in general, is going to be a good option in terms of satiety. These are just “higher” satiety choices or higher volume/lower calorie choices I’ve seen work with clients. People like to claim that “ZOMGZ FRUIT HAS SUGAR”. Yeah..it does. Just because it has sugar doesn’t mean it’s “hyper-palatable”. Yes fruit is delicious but it’s not exactly something people typically have chronic issues with in terms of overeating.
Starchy carbohydrates are a great tool to help stay full in a deficit. Most of them are high in fiber and are rated VERY high on the satiety index. Additionally, while most people enjoy these foods, they don’t qualify as “hyper-palatable”. You won’t catch yourself on a baked white potato bender.
Baked/Boiled Potatoes – boiled white potatoes have ranked as the highest satiety food in existence. If you’re struggling with hunger, this should be enough of a reason to incorporate them into your plan somewhere. The only caveat would be how you prepare the potato. If your idea of a potato is sliced, deep fried and covered in salt…you may want to reconsider. Also, if you can’t have a baked/boiled potato without cheese, bacon, and sour cream, you might want to abstain. That being said, I’m weird and I love baked potatoes plain and can’t tell you the last time I finished a whole one in a sitting.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal is without a doubt one of my favorite foods when trying to lose fat. It’s filling, delicious, takes up a lot of room in your stomach, and can be made a million different ways.
Beans/Lentils – Beans and Lentils are pretty straight forward. They have a fuck ton of fiber and a relatively high amount of protein. This combination is hard to match when it comes to satiety. Just beware, while your significant other may be glad your hanger is gone, they may be exchanging it for a smellier alternative.
Fats are a littttllleeeee bit tricky. Their level of satiety has been debated within the research. Some people find higher fat foods to be more satiating, while others find them less satiating and are thus more likely to overeat.
Because fat is calorically dense, it’s not as easy to meet the satiety requirements. At 9 calories per gram, even things that people normally think of as “high in fiber” or “satiating” like nuts and seeds are higher in calories than expected. A couple mindless handfuls in the mixed nut jar might seem like a healthy option but will probably skyrocket your cals for the day.
For me, the foods that contain relatively high amounts of fat but also meet the satiety conditions would be:
LEAN beef – enough protein to be fairly satiating. The leaner the cut, the more protein per calorie you’ll get (the more satiating + the more you’ll be able to eat)
Salmon – Same as lean beef. Salmon is a “fattier” fish but still packs a good amount of protein and is worth eating for the amazing Omega-3 content.
Full fat dairy – Even 5% yogurt is a good choice from a satiety standpoint. Yes it has more calories per gram of protein than 0% but it’s still ridiculously filling and tastes a bit better
Whole eggs – Same idea as full fat dairy. Are 100 calories of whole eggs as filling as 100 calories of egg whites? No…but there are a ton of health benefits to eating the yolk and they’re still an awesome option in terms of satiety.
Ironically, all of these “fat” sources are really “protein” sources that are just on the fattier side.
Things that are high in fat and not much else tend to be low in satiety.
Nut butters + Buts
When consumed in large amounts don’t really lend themselves to a diet that’s high in satiety.
Keto disclaimer: If you’re doing a Ketogenic diet, you may have a bone to pick with me here but I would argue the satiety of these foods changes in the context of a Ketogenic diet.
When it comes to snacking you’re going to want something portable that will have enough satiety to hold you over until the next meal. Once we enter the “snack world” we risk introducing highly processed foods that can often (not always) be hyperpalatable. While a snack might seem good from a macronutrient standpoint it may be difficult to moderate. These are some I have found meet the satiety + portable + not hyperpalatable profile.
Dark chocolate – One of my all time favorites. The darker the better. Perfect for fixing a chocolate craving, enough fiber to be satiating, and you get more chocolate than you’d expect. Also, has some caffeine in it which may help with appetite.
0% Greek Yogurt/Cottage Cheese – If you’re not on the Greek Yogurt or CC grind, by now…get your mind right. These are power players.
Baby carrots – 100 calories is like 30 carrots. Enough said. Definitely a go-to if you need a little “crunch” in your life.
Edamame – Perfect pre-sushi app. Mostly protein, not a lot of calories, and takes a little longer to eat which usually leads to you not going crazy.
Soup – yeah I know I said before that liquid wasn’t satiating. That being said, a simple chicken broth soup can help fill you up while being more or less noncaloric.
100 calorie almond pack – Easy. Portable. Some fiber. Not hyper palatable. Definitely good to keep in your treat bag on the go.
Homemade popcorn – Popcorn is a good move for those moments you feel like you “want to eat something while you watch TV” or something. A 3 cup portion is under 100 calories. Just chill with the butter. Sprinkle some sea salt and cinnamon and enjoy.
Protein shakes – Yeah yeah yeah I know I’m flip flopping hard here but I have to give protein shakes a shoutout because while solid food protein sources are more satiating, protein shakes are definitely better than most “snack foods” people reach for.
Beef Jerky – Underrated AF. Almost all protein. Delicious. Takes 416 chews per bite. Most people are worried about the little bit of sugar or the high sodium content. Most people are idiots 🙂 As long as you’re not eating your bodyweight in salt you’re good to go.
Drinks & Stuff
Deep in the dieting folklore is the notion that “our brains confuse thirst with hunger, and
if you’re hungry, you may just be thirsty.”. Without going too deep, because this is definitely worthy of a closer look, the science doesn’t really back this up. We arrive, alas, at yet another old western scientific standoff between “Evidence-based research” and “anecdotal accounts”.
What the fuck does that mean? Basically: The science doesn’t back this up, but after working with hundreds of people over the years and my own anecdotal accounts, consuming non-caloric beverages, especially the ones on this list CAN assist in bridging the gap between meals more comfortably.
Coffee/tea – The caffeine content has been shown to anecdotally suppress appetite. I’ll tell ya what, anecdotally is good enough for me! Definitely works for me. Also…Sometimes the little energy boost makes me feel good and more confident saying “I can wait a little longer”.
Flavored Seltzer – This one has changed my dieting skill-set for good. Something about the fact that I’m drinking something that has an enjoyable flavor helps me suppress that “eat because I’m bored” feeling. Also, the carbonation may help. Always up for new brands/flavors so if you have a favorite leave it in the comments!
Diet soda – Basically combine the last two reasons together. It tastes good and can suppress that “eat because you’re bored” feeling and often has a bit of caffeine. No, diet soda isn’t giving you cancer. If you like it, and it helps you avoid making “unfavorable” choices…it’s a ridiculously good tool.
It pains me to say this….but….condiments sometimes have a shady amount of calories. Also, we tend to have a heavier hand than we realize. Not only do they contain more calories than you think they also often contain a relevant amount of sugar and salt.
No, sugar and salt don’t make you fat. I say “relevant” because when there’s some combination of salt, sugar, and fat, foods become “hyperpalatable” which is just a fancy way of saying you can eat a lot more without realizing you’re actually full (think of cookies or ice cream).
That being said, these are condiments that I have found are either non-caloric or negligible-caloric and will help make your food taste better without achieving “crack cocaine” status with a squirt
Sugar-free Hot sauce
Braggs Liquid Aminos
Red wine vinegar
Sugar free maple syrup
I was gonna use the word “hacks” instead but I realized I’d wanna punch myself in the face. These are things you can DO to help manipulate your hunger without actually changing WHAT you’re eating. The first 4 are definitely my favorites.
Glass of water before, during, after – You’ll feel more full going into your meal, during, and after. Plus you’ll have probably knocked down 24oz of water for the day
Meal composition – Not too many different things on the plate. Studies have shown that the more variety on one plate often leads to overconsumption.
Meal frequency – Play with different meal frequencies. If you eat 5-6+ meals per day and you’re always hungry after you’re done eating, try eating less frequent, larger, more satiating meals. If you’re eating 2-3 meals per day and the long hours between meals are killing you, throw in some snacks! Yes, at the end of the day total calorie balance is going to dictate your fat loss, but you may feel less hungry with a certain meal frequency.
Go for a walk – For whatever reason, going outside and moving can take your mind off eating. You can do this when you’re hungry to avoid eating, or after a meal to put the lid on your intake. Also, going for walks after meals has been shown to reduce your body’s blood sugar response (for whatever that’s worth)
Eat slower – The slower you eat, the more time you give your body to realize it’s full. Chewing more and eating slower has been shown to spontaneously reduce how much you eat.
Chopsticks – Try this for a day. Not only will you feel like a complete invalid but you’ll also end up eating slower and probably less.
Opposite hand – Another tactic that will probably lead to elongating the eating process. Plus you’ll get better with your off-hand for…you know…when that stuff is important.
Mindful eating – Don’t watch TV while you eat. Sit with your food. Eat slowly. Be thankful for your meal. Studies have shown that eating while watching TV increased caloric intake by up to 25%.
Brush your teeth after meal – That fresh feeling might help put a lid on it.
At the end of the day if you’re dieting you’re going to want to use every tool at your disposal to stay satiated.
If you can diet and lose fat while not being “that hungry” you’ll be able to sustain it longer
If you can sustain it longer you’ll make more progress
You’ll also enjoy it more
Progress + Not hating your life = Sounds pretty good to me!
Hope these tips help guys!!
Love you <3