How Hunger Causes Weight Gain

What’s the Biggest Obstacle to Losing Weight?

As a nutritionist and weight management consultant who has been listening to dieters for over 24 years, I have no doubt in saying that the biggest obstacle to weight loss is HUNGER. Hunger makes us miserable. No matter how motivated you are to lose weight, hunger always wins and destroys your diet in the process. It’s always better (for weight loss) to eat a little too much than not enough.

Hunger Drives Us to Eat High Calorie Junk Food

When hunger becomes unbearable, we typically reach for all the wrong foods. I mean, who eats an orange to beat off serious hunger pangs? Not many of us! Mostly we reach for cookies, cakes, popcorn or anything that gives us an “instant hit”. Unfortunately these foods simply make the problem worse. Not only because of their high calorie-content, but also because they play havoc with our blood glucose levels which can lead to cravings, mood and appetite swings.

You Don’t Need to Go Hungry to Lose Weight

People often think that food causes weight gain. So they think if they eat less food they will lose more weight. This is not true. Successful weight loss doesn’t mean eating LESS, it means eating DIFFERENTLY.

For example, some high-calorie foods (like cookies, candy, cakes, rich ice cream) are easily eaten even when we are relatively full. Their high-fat and high-sugar content makes them easily digestible. Result? It’s easy to ingest 300 calories in a matter of minutes.

  • 1 oz (25g) of butter (almost pure fat) contains more calories than 10 oz (275g) of potatoes (which are mostly digestible carbohydrates, fiber and water). Now 10 oz (275g) of potatoes is really quite a large helping. But an ounce of butter can be eaten in an instant, melted on half a potato, without even batting an eyelid.
  • A whole pound of apples contains the same number of calories as a couple of candies. The difference is, very few people can eat a pound of apples: they are simply too filling.

So the message is simple, instead of going hungry, cut down on calorie-dense foods (usually fatty-sugary foods) and eat more lower-calorie or lighter foods, especially those rich in dietary fiber.

Hunger Screws Up Our Metabolic Rate

Our metabolism governs the rate at which we burn calories. Although it is largely inherited, we can raise it slightly, thereby burning calories faster. One way to raise your metabolic rate is to eat little and often. This, it is believed, helps to reassure the brain that food sources are plentiful, which in turn encourages it to burn calories. By starving yourself or going hungry, the opposite occurs – the brain thinks there is a food shortage and will (if hunger persists) slow things down and burn fewer calories. This is why starvation diets or prolonged fasts rarely lead to long term weight loss. Instead, they make us miserable and convince us that dieting is torture!

The Bottom Line

Hunger is a diet-killer. Avoid it all costs. The best way to do this, is to eat little and often. For optimum weight control, choose lower-fat, lower sugar foods that include plenty of fiber. These foods fill up your stomach without expanding your waistline. Most important of all, by avoiding hunger it’s much easier to stay happy and maintain your motivation to lose weight.


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