Losing weight means feeling famished all day, right? That's what many people think, but while you do need to watch your calorie intake, you shouldn't eat so little that you're hungry all day long. By eating the right foods at the right times, it's easy to drop pounds without feeling deprived and perpetually peckish.
- Carbohydrates in the morning: When you wake up, energy-sustaining carbs are the way to go. Having complex carbs in the morning will keep you feeling full and prevent you from becoming tired before lunch. Include whole grains and fruit for breakfast, and that full, satiated feeling will carry through all day.
- Eat more often: Sitting down to three big meals seems like it should be enough, but with so many hours between eating, hunger is bound to happen. Adjust your eating schedule and plan for three small meals (300 to 500 calories, depending on your daily calorie limit) with two or three small snacks (150 calories or less) to fill in the gaps. Eating every two to three hours will keep blood sugar levels steady, and will prevent that famished feeling.
- Protein matters: Researchers think protein helps reduce appetite because it helps maintain blood sugar levels, which can reduce cravings. Be sure to include lean meats, low-fat dairy products, eggs, legumes, or nuts in every meal — especially dinner — to prevent late-night snacking.
- Healthy fats are your friend: Good fats, like monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados, have been shown to help reduce belly fat. They've also been shown to help you feel full, which can keep calorie counts down for the day.
- Eat a big salad once a day: Every day, make sure one of your meals is a huge — healthy — salad. All that chewing helps trick your brain into thinking you're eating a lot, and the fiber will fill your belly. Load up on the low-calorie greens and raw veggies and limit the extras like dried fruit, nuts, cheese, avocado, and salad dressing. Add a lean protein such as grilled chicken or sautéed tofu, and you'll feel full and satisfied until snack time.
- Keep a reusable bottle close by: Sipping water throughout the day will also help you feel full, and since it's calorie-free, you can drink all you want.
- Indulge a little: Dealing with cravings can be worse than the pangs of hunger, and if you feel deprived, you're sure to reach for high-calorie foods. Allow yourself a small indulgence, like a square of dark chocolate, once a day so you can satisfy those cravings and then move on.