I am one of the hungriest people you’ll ever meet.
Not even exaggerating, I probably eat at least once every two hours. I’m always carrying snacks with me and munching on something or other. I used to be pretty embarrassed about it—but now I tell people it’s just as much for their sake as mine since I get pretty… well… grumpy when I don’t eat.
But while eating every two hours may seem like a lot now, it’s a huge improvement from the days when I was hungry immediately after my last meal.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to stay full for more than two seconds—but since I’ve finally figured out ways to keep feeling full longer (which in turn keeps me happier, less grumpy, and in better shape), I figured I should share what I’ve learned with you guys.
Here are five ways to stay feeling full longer:
Include protein at every meal
This one took a long time for me to figure out, since for some reason or another, I grew up always craving carbs—bread, pasta, oatmeal, you name it—not protein.
But not only does protein feed your muscles and help them grow bigger and stronger, it also fills you up—and helps keep you feel full longer. Since it takes your body longer to break down protein than it does carbohydrates, a breakfast of eggs will leave you feeling less hungry than if you ate just plain oatmeal with no added protein (but oatmeal and protein powder? Now that’s a winning combo).
Since I try to aim for about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, I try and get about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal, plus more at snack time. Adding protein to every meal has made a huge difference in the way I eat and how hungry I feel throughout the day—and if you’re hungry all the time, it most likely will for you, too.
Eat more healthy fats than you think you should
Although the 90’s low fat trend seems to finally have come to an end, most people still have a fear of fat, or at least of eating too much of it. And in fact it took me a really long time to get over this one—I used to skimp on my avocado, eat only an olive or two and avoid oils like the plague.
But then I realized something life changing: fat fills you up and keeps you full significantly longer.
If I have a salad for lunch with some veggies and protein, I’ll still be hungry and feeling “snacky” shortly after. But if I add a third of an avocado and some almonds? All of a sudden it not only feels more like a substantial meal, it also helps me stay full until my afternoon snack later in the day.
Of course, I’m not urging you go to eat a bunch of french fries and fried chicken. The fat you want to include in your diet is the healthy kind—think avocado, almonds, seeds, nut butter, olives, and coconut. I try to aim for about 30% of my daily calories to be from fat, which keeps me significantly more full and satisfied feeling throughout the day.
Eat enough at every meal
This almost seems too obvious to even mention, but eating enough at every meal is something I’ve always had a problem with, and I know I’m not alone here (although I’m taking a wild guess that this is more of a female problem than a male one).
Since I tend to prefer eating fairly light rather than stuffing myself silly, there are times when I’ll actually under eat at a meal—making it much more likely that I’m hungry a half an hour later. Often times, it’s not even on purpose—I’ll have a plate full of veggies and some protein, but when I actually add up the calorie content, the whole thing might even be less than 300 calories. Now, I tend to count the macronutrients of my meal to make sure I’m actually getting enough food at one sitting.
Fill up on veggies
What’s not to love about vegetables? They’re packed with nutrients, make you feel good, and as a huge bonus, the fiber in them keeps you feeling full for longer.
Sometimes, when I’m famished but don’t want to overload on carbs, I’ll pile my plate high with veggies or have a giant salad because you really can’t gain weight eating too many vegetables. Not only does it trigger some happy center in my brain to see my plate packed to the brim, the fiber in the veggies also keeps me feeling full to the next meal.
Just remember to include protein and fat in your meal as well or you will be hungry five minutes later.
Eat your good carbs
All this talk of me limiting carbs may have you thinking that I avoid carbohydrates all together—which is absolutely not true. Not only do carbs help fuel your workouts, they’re also a necessary part of your diet and help keep you energized and your brain in high functioning mode.
And though it’s true that some people function better on low carb diets than others, when I have a too low carb day I find that my thinking gets fuzzy, my energy drops and I definitely don’t have the energy I need to have a kickass workout.
Carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and quinoa are packed with nutrients and other good stuff, so combining those with your protein and fats will make for a much more satisfying meal in general. I try to aim for about 30% of my calories a day to be from carbohydrates, which keeps me feeling fuller, more energized and less snacky throughout the entire day.
Food is fuel
Remember, eating well and staying full throughout the day is what’s going to give you the energy and motivation you need to kick ass at your workouts and life.