Hey guys and girls, welcome to part four of our extensive nutrition guide – how to use and recognise appetite and hunger.
Today we’re going deep into hunger and appetite, but more importantly how to recognise signs of these and how to utilise these key bodily signals to give you the right nutrition you need…
First up – being hungry doesn’t mean you’re a greedy bastard. Quite the opposite really… It’s a fantastic way of our body telling us we need more fuel for the energy we’ve expended that day, or possibly the day before.
In a weight loss and performance aspect of nutrition it’s equally important to dial in recognising hunger in order to properly ensure we’re feeding you enough. After all, consuming less than optimal levels of calories will produce sub-optimal performance measures in your sport, as well as it can also negatively influence your hormones when looking to drive weight loss – there is such a thing as eating way too little calories for weight loss!
So where to begin?
What is appetite and hunger?
Quite simply, hunger is your body’s signalling process telling you to eat more calories to keep up with bodily expenditure. Often, hunger can be misintruded for appetite, which is more a reactive signalling than a deep-lying hunger signal. Going further, if you have a sub-optimal hormonal environment, your body could even be mis-signalling that you need more food, we’ll come back to this…
Imgaine you were half way through the morning though, you’ve had breakfast not too long ago and you’re definitely not hungry. You’re sitting in your office and all of a sudden it’s Friday, down plonk the donuts in the office and all of a sudden you have a face with an open mouth salivating like there’s no tomorrow. Now, you weren’t necessarily hungry and had you not seen the donuts or had been blindfolded, you probably wouldn’t have acted this way.
This is appetite. The ‘craving’ of a food and having it is indicative of a healthy metabolism. Now if your blood sugars were any lower or maybe you were having a stressful morning, sometimes appetite can be so overwhelming and the urge to eat and refill glucose stores in yoour body (through carbohydrates) is the only thing you want to do. So you pick up the donut and eat it. There’s a fine line between appetite and hunger but if you’re not managing your energy intake better, or as optimally, a strong appetite can definitely off-set your day through smashing five donuts…
There are two key hormones responsible for appetite and hunger signalling:
Letpin: Responsible for the regulation of your body’s metabolism as well as modulating the amount of calories consumed in relation to expenditure. A key hormone of signalling in your body to eat more based on expendature whilst also regulating the level of bodyfat available, ie. signalling to consume more or to hold more bodyfat in times of famine.
Ghrelin: Ghrelin and Leptin share the same brain cells and both regulate hunger and satiety. However Ghrelin is secreted in the body in the stomach lining. It is a rapidly-acting hormone which plays a part in the initiation of eating. Ghrelin levels will increase when weight loss is initiated and the stoamch indicates it’s empty. Leptin and Ghrelin work inversely to each other but monitioring hunger, and dictated by ghrelin levels is a fantastic way to establish whether you need more food based on your daily activity and con sistent intake!
In certain situations Leptin resistance in the body is possible, similar to insulin resistance when over consuming carbs. As Leptin levels increase relative to the level of body fat present, instead of leptin indicating there is adequate surplus energy to balance expenditurem, the signal could instead become muted. The brain will be unable to acknowledge if leptin is present and continues to signal to the body it is starving. As a result the body recieves a signal to eat more calories as well as signalling to reduce energy expenditure.
This is often prevalent in an obese population and the more obese someone is, generally the higher the leptin resistance, often leading to overconsumption. Often the only reccomendation here is to re-enforce better food behavioural patterns and more inclusion of foods typically labelled as ‘clean’, in an attempt to get more nutritionally dense foods as opoosed to ‘bad’ foods in the body to control hunger.
Enough on hormones, what can you do with this?
Appetite and hunger are one of the main hormonal indicators we monitor when working with clients.
Once a client has developed a consistent eating pattern consuming the same calories daily, simply by just rating your hunger that day from 1-5 (5 being starving) serves as a fantastic tool to establish whether the amount of calories that client is consuming is suitable for their goal. If their goal were weight loss, then we need to monitor their weight and establish a balance between a healthy rate loss and a sustainable level of hunger.
If the clients goal was simply to eat to perform/put on muscle like mine is currently, then a high hunger is indicative of the need to give more calories in order for your body to be in a calorie surplus. We know the body’s base metabolic rate increases to match consistent intake so to ignore hunger signals and eat less risks me sitting in a calorie deficit and not driving performance or muscle growth. Check out this study here on metabolic adapatation.
The key word again, sadly, is consistency – what we discussed last week here.
By getting consistent with your energy (calorie) intake, you remove a variable which could be affecting hunger profusely. When a client is consuming 2000 calories a day and they only become hungry 7 days after developing consistency, we immediately know 2000 calories is not enough to fuel their lifestyle anymore. This will be either due to the body’s natural increase in metabolic rate or simply the ability for the client to go harder in their workouts or hectic daily lifestyle, therefore expending more calories.
Often a simple increase of 100 calories for the client is enough to knock hunger away for another week and then, low and behold, 7-10 days later after consistently eating 2100 calories a week they’re hungry again. There will be a fall-off where the body naturally doesn’t want to consume more calories but that is for you to discover. However, some of the leanest people I know can consume 3000 calories daily on an average training plan, however it doesn’t mean you need to!
I consume 2900 calories daily and I’m still driving bodyfat loss, albeit at a very slow rate.
The trick is to balance your rate of weight loss with your hunger. A loss of 0.5kg a week is dubbed a very acceptable rate of weight loss, any faster and we risk negatively upsetting our metabolism.
When a client is losing weight at this rate I’m happy, we just need to be sure they’re not starving themselves and can hold a sustainable level of hunger (a rating of 3 is ok I find). At the end of the day, if you’re very hungry often then you increase the chances of falling off the wagon due to lack of avaialble energy.
It’s all about balance and it varies hugely in what works for one indivudal and what works for you. You aren’t 6 foot and 81kg like I am, so why would you aim to match my energy consumption of 2900 calories a day. You’re unique, so please, monitor your hunger and weight closely yourself.
It’s all created from consistency though and the question is, how consistent is your daily calorie consumption?
If you’d like help with your nutrition I curently have spots available for my August Intake. Start progressing with your weight loss or performance/muscle growth goals today simply by getting your nutrition down. If you’re interested please apply here and fill out the form, I’ll literally get back with the day… 😉 APPLY HERE!
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Yesss, last nights dinner was awesome. I love chicken sausages just because they're so lean and these paprika ones were legit! . This with added sweet corn, peas, Parmesan and fresh pasta came in at 86gC/14gF/48gP! . Weird one last night, after a long day at work I went to the gym and whilst I was there had a massive blood sugar crash to the point I was shaking. . Think it came down to the fact I've been pounding the gym a bit and need some fuel. Cause actually I purposefully over ate last night and I feel leaner this morning 👌🏻 Go figure! . What's more I have a crossfit comp tomorrow so will be getting In some extra carbs over the course of the day so keep up with my story if you wanna see how I'm feeding myself a bit extra. . The fuel starts the day before so an increase is necessary today 👌🏻 . #chargenutrition #health #fitness #nutrition #iifym #iifymgirls #macros #macrofriendly #macrocoach #flexibledieting #fit #fitspo #fitfam #diet #fuel #training #gym #strength #cardio #workout #instafit #crossfit #nutritionist #nutritioncoach #determination #progress #instagood #cleaneating #mealprep #healthy