Why You Eat When You’re Not Hungry
January 26, 2021 in
Healthy Eating, Lifestyle by
Cally Smith, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
Eating when you’re not hungry is the most difficult idea for my patients to digest. Most feel that overeating is what led them to have obesity in the first place.
Hunger On an Empty Stomach
When you start a structured weight loss program, it’s my job to change how you think and feel about food. Research shows that an empty stomach produces the largest amount of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. When your stomach makes ghrelin, it travels through your bloodstream to your brain’s eating control center. This stimulates the neurons that control appetite, thus telling you to seek food.
Hunger & Protein
A high protein diet helps increase satiety and boost your metabolism. Protein, above all, helps build muscle. My goal is to have your body burning fat for energy, not muscle. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic rate. I recommend eating at least 15g of protein, even if you aren’t hungry. Why?
If you do, you will be less hungry because your satiety has increased. It will keep your metabolism burning all day. On empty stomach, it’s going to produce ghrelin and make you hungry. How would it feel to go about your day and not be hungry? A patient once said it was “freeing”. She felt free not feeling hungry and thinking about food all day.
Hunger & Carbohydrates
I recommend eating no more than 20 g of carbohydrates every 3-4 hours, even when you’re not hungry. Why do I care about how many carbohydrates you eat? If you only eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar increases, and insulin is released. Insulin can make you hungry. So, carbs will make you eat more food, which will cause insulin to spike again. This can cause an increase in fat.
As you can see, it’s a vicious cycle. Keep in mind: not all carbohydrates are created equal. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugar-sweetened beverages, and pastries are the ones to limit. I call these “empty calories”. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, and quinoa are loaded with fiber. They don’t cause your blood sugar to spike like refined or simple carbohydrates do.
Working with a Weight Loss Expert
I help train your brain to eat proactively, not reactively. Proactive eating requires knowledge, consistency, and planning. Proactive eating is a skill that’s not learned overnight. It’s something that takes time and effort to master. Being a proactive eater will allow you to plan your meals to ensure you eat the right foods at the right time. Once mastered, I know you’ll achieve the ultimate goal: long-lasting weight loss.