Define: Hunger

by Corbin Burkard, Head Trainer, Burn Boot Camp – Eau Claire

Ever feel hungry? Of course you have. Feeling hungry is our body’s natural way of letting us know it is time to eat. What is often misconstrued is understanding how truly “hungry” we actually are. As a trainer who is dealing with nutrition questions on a daily basis, one of the first questions I ask people is, “Do you feel hungry during the day?” Often the answer I receive is, “No.” For many people this is simply because we are undereating and need to gradually increase calories in order to boost our metabolism so we can actually burn MORE calories by putting better food into our bodies on a more consistent basis.

On the other end of the spectrum are those of us that eat a sufficient amount (or too many) of calories on a regular basis. If we are eating enough calories during the day, odds are we feel hungry, or at least we certainly would if we missed snack time! Some foods make you hungrier without actually doing anything for you, like sugars and refined carbs. Whereas foods high in fiber, healthy fats, and proteins can assist to not only increase your metabolism and nourish your body, but can also help so you aren’t hungry constantly. From here, I put “hungry” into six different categories to help explain what type of hunger we are actually experiencing, and how to combat those types of hunger!

  1. Starving – The feeling that you could “eat a horse.” At this point you are more than likely shaky, lightheaded, and possibly sick feeling.
  2. Pretty Hungry – This is go time! Time to definitely be eating some food. You are maybe even a little past the point of when you should have last eaten. Right now there are some pretty empty sounds coming from your stomach, and this feeling more than likely came on gradually.
  3. You Could Eat – This is my typical response when I am not all that hungry, but know I will be within an hour. At this point there is no reason to be eating. Drink some water, see how you feel, and then start to plan or prepare for your next meal.
  4. Content – If you are not hungry, and also not full, why would you need to eat? This is one that gets a lot of people late at night. You have had dinner, you are going to bed in an hour, and there is no reason to eat! Don’t feel bad though, this is a common, learned, habitual movement (my favorite suggestion is to do air popped popcorn with light olive oil!). Typically I tell people to either drink some water or substitute something with essentially no caloric value to wean themselves away from late night snacks.
  5. Full – Stop! Slow down, put that fork down between bites, eat slower, take a drink between each bite, use a smaller plate, put the rest of the food away in containers for tomorrow! Going beyond this point is usually what makes us sick, wastes our money, and keeps our waistband tight.
  6. Overfull – Typically overeating happens often when we waited to eat until we were starving. You get all excited to eat again and start to cram anything and everything we can into your face too quickly! Afterward you feel sluggish, slow, tired, and sometimes quite uncomfortable. This can be easily avoided by trying to stay between numbers 2 and 5 at all times!

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