7 Ways to Keep Losing Weight Without Starving Yourself
You’ve likely read thousands of weight loss tips, and most of them seem focused on the eternal problem: How to not be hungry and lose weight. Fad diets and questionable fitness gadgets may seem like a quick fix, but there are some tried-and-true ways to lose weight without feeling deprived or like you’re ready to eat anything within reach.
Here are seven ways to not be hungry and lose weight.
1. Eat Good Fats
For decades, the diet industry was powered by the fear of all dietary fats, and some of us still aren’t over the gaslighting. It’s worth saying again: Healthy fats may impact satiety by triggering appetite-regulating hormones.
“Incorporate a serving or two of plant-based fat to every meal,” advises Kylene Bogden, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT, IFNCP, a performance dietitian for the Cleveland Cavaliers who often has to help clients get and stay lean without feeling starved. “Fat does not make you fat! In fact, when quality and proportion are right, it does the exact opposite and prevents you from feeling constantly hungry.”
For example, Bogden recommends adding a scoop of unsweetened peanut butter to oatmeal, topping an omelet with a serving of guacamole, or using olive oil as the base for a homemade salad dressing.
2. Get Plenty of Fiber
The first rule of clean plate club is: Don’t call it clean plate club unless it’s full of clean energy that will keep you satiated. Scott Keatley, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City, says there are two things that every meal should include to help fill you up:
“Look at your meal,” Keatley says. “With your starch, does it contain any fiber? If not, try to swap it out for one that does like beans, whole grain products, or brown rice. And then volume: Consider adding more low-calorie fruits and vegetables to your plate.”
Fiber is not only satisfying, which may have an overall positive impact on body composition, but it may also provide health benefits. And most of us don’t get nearly enough. The USDA recommends that adult women consume between 25 to 28 grams of fiber and adult men consume 31 to 34 grams of fiber daily.
3. Eat Enough Protein
“Protein helps repair your muscles after a workout, refueling them instead of allowing them to break down,” says Tami Smith, an ACE-certified personal trainer in Williamstown, Massachusetts. “It also helps keep you more satiated throughout the day, which can lead to less snacking and fewer cravings. Proper protein consumption will allow for muscle maintenance while shedding excess fat.”
4. Drink Water Regularly and Between Meals
You probably know that drinking more water can help quell hunger pangs, but when and how much is optimal? “I strongly advise all of my clients to start the day by drinking a glass of water and continue drinking about 8 ounces [one cup] every hour,” says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RDN, LDN, CPT, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Chicago. “It’s important to drink between meals because it can keep you feeling full and well-hydrated. You’ll be surprised how this simple habit can help you eat far fewer calories than you otherwise would on a daily basis.”
To add flavor without racking up the scary calorie counts of bottled drinks, Melendez-Klinger suggests infusing water with fresh herbs or pieces of fresh fruit or adding a small splash of juice.
5. Don’t Forget to Eat
Plan meals and snacks to avoid scarfing unintentional calories. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat. You’ll risk overdoing it, and feeling weak and ravenous might lead you to abandon your dieting efforts altogether. “Avoid going longer than four hours without eating, even if it’s just a little protein-rich snack,” says Bogden. “Sporadic meal times may lead to extreme blood-sugar highs and lows. This can result in fatigue, hunger, and sugar cravings.”
6. Ask Yourself, “Am I Really Hungry Right Now?”
“Eating your feelings” isn’t just a cutesy phrase — it’s a major obstacle to weight loss for many. “Many of us have a hard time distinguishing when we’re actually hungry versus just bored, irritated, or stressed,” says Paul Greene, Ph.D., a behavioral health psychologist in New York City who specializes in weight loss. “As a result, we come to believe we’re hungry when, in reality, we’re having an emotional experience.”
If you have an issue with emotional eating, try a delay tactic: If you feel hungry, wait ten minutes, somewhere food isn’t within easy reach. “If you’re still hungry after ten minutes, then eat,” says Greene. “If you’re not, you’ve just learned something about differentiating genuine hunger from other experiences.”
7. Prioritize Quality Sleep
If you skimp on sleep, expect your hunger to rise the next day, whether you’re dieting or not. “Not getting enough sleep messes with the production of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that moderate hunger, appetite, and body weight,” says John Fawkes, an NSCA-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition-certified counselor in Los Angeles. “The better rested you are, the more likely you are to make smart dietary decisions — and work out.”