My Big AHA moment about Hunger- is feeling hungry unhelpful when you’re trying to lose weight?

August 6, 2014 BY: LISA

I was speaking with a client the other day who had come to see me for weight loss. She was a bit nervous and said, “Lisa, I think you have created a monster. I am hungry…a lot!!”


I needed to clarify that she wasn’t constantly hungry- she wasn’t, but she was hungry mid- morning, lunch, mid -afternoon and for dinner.


My AHA moment:


I then understood that hunger is a scary thing for people trying to lose weight, that the usual thought is:


“I’m trying to lose weight, trying not to eat, so hunger is a bad thing”


But I was actually really pleased for her. To me, if you feel hunger it means that your body is happy to burn up what you are eating rather than just stay sluggish and store everything as fat for a rainy day. If this is a sign of metabolism picking up, which I believe it is, then she has a great shot at losing weight – when all her previous attempts have failed.


I was also able to reassure her that feeling hungry on regular occasions throughout the day was exactly how I feel everyday. Although I have no research to say this is what you are supposed to feel I do know that I am maintaining a healthy body weight. The other thing I know is that by far the majority of the clients who come to me for weight loss do not feel hunger and they could go all day without eating- and they are not losing weight this way.


Let me reassure you that I am not hungry constantly, I am not always having to think about food – but I do need to eat three meals and usually two snacks between meals each day.


The key is to be prepared with meals and snacks to make sure that when you feel hungry you have a healthy snack or meal,  that will satisfy your hunger*, close at hand.”




The more clients I see for weight loss the more convinced I am that managing hunger levels is the key to weight loss. If you allow yourself to get too hungry you will over eat- either right then and there or later in the day.


If you feel hungry for lunch at lunch time (12-1.30pm) you are more likely to eat a meal in the middle of the day instead of leaving it until 3pm, get home and not be hungry for dinner, snack and graze your way through the evening and be hungry some time just before bed. This is a recipe for disaster and  it stems from people believing the less they eat the more likely they will be to lose weight- it does make sense but it just doesn’t pan out that way – is it working for you??


So make hunger your friend that you aim to meet up with a few times a day.” See an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)  for tips on how to reconnect with your hunger.


*Snacks that satisfy hunger contain some carbohydrate and definitely some protein. A low calorie carbohydrate based snack like rice crackers, ’lighter’ fruit or popcorn are not unhealthy but they won’t really deal with a  gnawing mid- meal hunger as well as a dairy based drink or snack (milk or yoghurt), a palmful of nuts (20-30grams), a banana or a wholegrain dry biscuit with topping.


The aim is for the snack to be of a size that it takes the edge off your hunger but you are still hungry 90-120minutes later for the meal”


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Lisa APD


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