Hunger is the arch-enemy for those of us looking to lose weight. It gnaws away at our resistance to snacks, junk food and bigger servings of food. Whilst we may win a few battles, hunger normally wins the war.
Overcoming the urge to constantly eat is therefore an important part of successfully creating an energy deficit and losing weight. No hunger, no problem! The good news is there are simple ploys we can use to trick our hunger signals and sidestep the subsequent overeating that follows.
Dr Barbara Rolls of the Center For Behavioral Nutrition at Penn State University has spent many hours demonstrating through detailed studies that we don’t eat calories, we eat volume. In one such experiment Dr Rolls and her team made two smoothies of identical calorie content but with one critical difference.
One of the smoothies was blended for a significantly longer period of time thereby whipping more air into the ingredients until eventually it was twice the size of its counterpart. Both smoothies were then served to college students before lunch.
Which smoothie would fill you up more?
Interestingly, the college students who drank the bigger smoothie ate 12% less lunch and reported feeling more full after finishing their meal. In other words, regardless of calorie content, if the students thought they ate more they were less likely to feel hungry. If they thought they ate less they were more likely to feel hungry.
How can we use this information to support our own weight loss efforts? Simple, by eating bigger portions of food which has a lower energy density.
This helps explain why high intakes of fresh vegetables are so beneficial for those looking to lose weight. These foods contain more water and fiber (thus less energy) so you feel fuller on fewer calories. As an added bonus fresh vegetables also contain a high density of nutrients which is great for improving health.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
The following habits are all reiterations of the same thing. Eating greater quantities of low energy foods at the expense of high energy foods. See if any resonate with you.
The Half Plate Rule - at each meal occupy half your plate with veggies. This leaves less room for higher calorie foods. Simple and effective.
The 20 % Rule - as recommended by Dr Brian Wansink in his book Mindless Eating. The 20% rule implies you should decrease your serving size of energy dense foods like pasta by 20% whilst increasing the serving size of veggies by the same 20%.
Fill Up On Veggies - if you must snack between meals then veer away from processed snacks and choose to chow down on some veggies instead. This will allow you to eat more food, eat fewer calories, fend off hunger and increase the healthiness of your diet.
In many cases by significantly upping your intake of fresh vegetables you really can eat less by eating more and in doing so sideline your hunger cravings for good.