The lower your bodyfat percentage, the hungrier you become. This is the case for everyone and a natural mechanism of your body to avoid ‘starvation mode’. That is great if you’re a cave(wo)man who will be forced by hunger to get off their butt to search for food. It’s less ideal if you sit at the office all day and have a stare contest with the cookie jar in front of you.
Research shows that most diets fail, simply because people are hungry. Other research shows that binge eating also is strongly determined by hunger.
And if you think about, it’s pretty simple, it’s way less difficult to make smart choices if you’re not hungry.
The good news is that you can manipulate your hunger level to get into great shape.
By volume! Your stomach is lined with a ton of receptors that send a direct signal to your brain. A lot of these receptors react to volume, so literally how much your stomach is expanded. If your stomach is more expanded, ghrelin (the ‘hunger hormone’) production decreases and as a result you feel more satiated.
Here are 6 pratical tips that can help you to make sure that there will end up more volume on your plate:
1. Start to think in (kilo)grams/pounds.
A big bowl of salad with some chicken might look like a lot, but how much does it really weigh?
Chances are big that your huge salad contains about 75 g - 2.6 oz lettuce, 1 tomato and 60 g – 2 oz of (baked) chicken. That is, if you’re lucky, about 285 g – 10 oz of food.
On a diet day, this will certainly register in your stomach as ‘ Whait, what? Was that all?’.
2. Eat from smaller plates.
Research shows that the size of a plate of bowl of the food that is served has a huge influence on how much people tend to eat and that overall satiety doesn’t differ much.
This because a large plate makes a regular portion appear much smaller than a smaller plate.
The portion size is the same on both plates (source: wisebread).
There is a limit on how small your place can be. If it’s obviously too small to hold you food, you probably will go for second helping.
3. Veggies are awesome.
Yes, I know, veggies are not everyone’s favorite, but they’re awesome on a diet. Instead of 100 g – 3.5 oz of uncooked rice, you can eat almost 1 kilo - 2.2 lb of vegetables.
When you compared to fats, there is no contest at all, 1 tbsp of oil or almost 300 g – 10.6 oz of vegetables.
4. Soup is your best friend
Alright, so vegetable are important, but how the heck are you going to eat pounds and pounds of veggies? Answer: soup.
Soup is your best friend, easy to make (also in bulk), cheap, variable and filling. It’s also a great way to make veggies actually taste good. No fan of broccoli? I hear you. Luckily you can easily transform bland broccoli in delicious broccoli soup.
It’s very easy to keep soups low in calories. I find that almost everyone finds it very ok to spend 100 – 150 kcal on soups every meal and spend the rest of their macro budget on things that they ‘like’ that has more fat or is less filling.
Options are endless: tomato soup, vegetable soup, mushroom soup, pumpkin soup, zucchini soup, asparagus soup, chicken soup, you name it.
5. Seek alternatives for things you like.
Pizza, burrito, chocolate ice cream, cheesecake, chocolate mousse, of a lot of the things that you like to eat, you can find guilt-free pleasures that fit better into your macros and still let you enjoy good food.
By replacing rice with cauliflower rice or spaghetti with veggetti, you can save hundreds of calories and add a good extra portion of vegetables.
Shirataki noodles (~ 10 kcal per 100 g – 3.5 oz!) contain mostly fiber and are therefor also very filling, but not everyone tolerates them as well. Some people do get stomach cramps. Kelp noodles might be tolerated better.
Important tip, it works the best to mix those options above with a very flavorful sauce (pesto, curry, red pasta sauce).
6. Add things with (almost) no calories.
That you can substitute sugar with sweetener, is probably something that I don’t have to tell you, but you can also make very easily your own (almost) calorieless iced coffee, 25 kcal hot chocolate and 2 kcal sparkling lemonade.