Embrace Hunger and Hunger Pains While Dieting

Hunger and getting hungry while dieting is something that we are taught to avoid.

I’m going to suggest something that most people think is taboo. You will get faster weight loss results if you allow yourself to get hungry from time to time. I’ll even go as far to say that you should embrace hunger and look forward to it for rapid fat loss.

funky woman standing on a city rooftop

Getting Hungry While Dieting? Good!

This topic came to my mind because I am dieting for a trip to Puerto Vallarta with my girlfriend. I am already lean, but I wanted to drop that last tiny bit of 3-4 pounds to get extra sharp abs. I got hungry last night and ate an apple and a bit of cheese right before bed.

Yes…I screw up too! Anyway…I just need to remind myself that it is okay to get hungry from time to time.

Getting Hungry is the “Old School” Dieting Approach

I grew up in the 70’s. Back in those days, people would actually get hungry while dieting! Imagine that! At some point in the 80’s, the “eat 6 meals per day” approach became the norm.

The idea was that “eating every few hours” keeps your metabolism high. In theory it looked like a great strategy, but it isn’t working for most people.

Is Eating Every Few Hours Working For You?

I have NEVER been able to get lean by eating 6 meals per day. The problem with eating all the time is that you always have “food energy” circulating in your system.

When you do any activities or exercise, your body always has an abundant supply of energy from the food you eat. Why would it need to access your stored energy source (aka BODY FAT)? The answer is that your body will not burn body fat with excessive food energy in your system.

Remember How Hungry You Got When You Were a Kid?

I was lucky enough to grow up a block from Dashpoint Beach. It is actually considered as one of the premier Flatland Skimboard beaches (I’ll put up a video, since it is hard to describe skimboarding).

[I grew up a block from this beach. I basically spent my entire summer doing what you see here. I should have picked a sport like basketball or baseball. Skimboarding doesn’t pay a lot!]

Okay, back to the story…when I was a kid, I would often times meet my friends at the beach and spend 8-9 hours skimboarding. I would be so busy having fun that I didn’t eat anything the entire day.

Once it began to get dark I would head home and I was starving! I remember being super hungry! Obviously…my friends were in the same position. Each and every one of us looked great.

“…But Children Have A Higher Metabolism”

For the most part, kids don’t eat as often as adults…especially the ones who do outdoor activities. The children who do eat all the time are the ones with the weight problems.

Think about it…a lot of the younger kids and teens these days play video games and surf the Internet. They are indoor near food. If these children get hungry, food is just a few steps away. Adults at work are near food all the time as well and share the exact same problem!

“Allowing Yourself to Get Hungry” is Key to Getting Lean

I don’t believe our bodies were meant to have a never ending supply of constant food. I am not suggesting that you stay hungry all the time, but don’t be so quick to grab food the second you feel hungry.

This is your chance to get rid of some of that excessive body fat. Want to really lose some weight quickly? Let yourself get hungry on purpose before doing cardio.

This is when you will see visible results quickly.


118 thoughts on “Embrace Hunger and Hunger Pains While Dieting”

  1. The 6 small meals a day idea does work for weight loss but it takes a HUGE effort doing exercise. I recently started juicing again (vegetable juicing) and i noticed by my 3rd vegetable juice how insanely hungry I was. I juiced tomato, carrot and cucumber and had that every 3 or 4 hours. each juice prolly about 150 calories but totally full of nutrients. and about how kids forget to eat but play all day, that is the easiest way to burn off body fat. eating 6 small meals 3 hours apart would need 15 minutes of cardio in between meals just to start burning off body fat. no matter how intense you work out, your blood glucose needs to burn off 1st before stored body fat gets used. fasting by itself may be ok, but when used with nicotine or caffeine it could cause heart palpitations. or abnormal levels of potassium magnesium (electrolytes ((sodium is one too))) so stick with just water, ice water

  2. p.s. I have maintained the 22 kilos loss, three years later, I still have not gained.

  3. Three years ago, i lost 22 kilos in the space of 6 months. I ate one date (normal, small portion and only 2 meals a day) and fasted the next. I felt wonderful. I started sleeping better and my limbs did not hurt anymore. No more digestion problems. On the days that I ate, I worked out 40 minutes only. So this means, eat one day, normal portions twice a day and then work out for 40 minutes (consistently) and then fast the next day. People kept telling me how unhealthy the whole thing I was doing is. Now, almost half of the people I know, have started doing it and agree with my initial conclusion: it’s wonderful and easy.

  4. Hello Rusty,

    I have been following your site since a year now. As a former sports player, I’m in sports since I was 11 years old and I’m a committed reader on healthy eating and sports. Nowadays there is university professor (Prof. Canan Karatay) who groundbreaks dieting conceptions in Turkey (refering to many scientific evidences) and she is stickly suggesting very low carb dieting (max 100g/day as Mate suggets for average people), healty faty acids, proteins for good health and lower BMI in the long run. She is also advocating that obesity, Type II diabetes and many other health problems can be prevented by banning-controlling carbs in our diet. In fact, she is a very notorous professor of medecine and she almost underlines same points that you suggest over carbs and lifestyle (fasting, health benefits of hunger, eating less meals and never 5-6 per day etc. )
    I wrote all of the above to tell all that I realy like the way you put things on this website with all scientific references and very pragmatic approach on fitness and dieting according to one’s goals.
    So anyway, I want to thank you for all your efforts to put more scientific knowledge to fitness community through the FBB.
    Have a great day all!!!

  5. Rachel don’t eat one big meal, it’s bad for you. Three small meals is the norm. You have to split your calories. Eating too much calories at one meal will stop you from losing weight. Your stomach will struggle to digest one big meal. If you are eating only small amount of calories like 500 a day then one meal would be ok, but it is not a long term prospect. Going 5-6 hours between small meals will surely make you hungry.

  6. I’ve been reading about low cal diets and the warrior diet. Does anyone know if it matters if I eat 3 times a day or once if I take in the same amount of calories?

  7. Im glad someone spoke the truth! I was like this when I was a child and would go swimming with my brother. We wouldnt eat all day because we didnt want to get out of the water! As a adult I somehow screwed up this practice of being hungry and not letting it bother me… But now im back on track and using IF better and better each day!

  8. I am fascinated with your advice about trying to let yourself get a little hungry. I know of a girl that eats one meal a day at 4:00 p.m.. She says that when she does eat it is still not a large meal. I used this approach in college and I lost a lot of weight. Most people think they need three meals a day, but this is not true. When I went back to three meals a day I gaained weight. You can stick to the one meal a day if you drink a lot of water, and drink a glass of water before your meal time.

  9. My god! Finally, someone made some sense. All this nonsense about eating 6 small meals a day doesn’t work, because those who are fat CANNOT control themselves to eat 6 SMALL meals. Like stealing candy from a baby. We all get hungry however, so learning the art of feeling that hunger appears to be the trick. Worked in the past! Don’t know why I believed in the 6 small meals a day myth. Now I’m built like a truck, and suffering from the consequences of it all.

  10. I never got the 6 meal a day thing either. You know why? Because they are TINY meals and never leave me satisfied. I prefer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal is substantial enough to get me through. 6 meals would just leave me even hungrier because they wouldn’t fill me up. I tried it–and yikes!

    Anyway, I’m right now fighting the hunger as I’m writing this. It’s so hard because it’s beginning to hurt a little. But, I know that in the morning I will see a difference. Especially right now! My goal for yesterday and today was to go without supper since I splurged last week (4th of July festivities!) I got through it last night and saw a 2 lb difference on the scale.

    Tomorrow should be just as good, since I also ran today. Nothing like a summer run–sounds crazy, but it feels great!

  11. I completely agree with this. When I let myself feel those hunger pains I get energized by them. Look up the five bite diet.

  12. Thank you for this article! I have always had more dieting success when letting myself get hungry more often.
    Once I started reading conflicting information stating that my body will eat all of my hard earned muscle, my metabolism will slow, and I will gain twice the amount I lose…… I started to try eating the 6 meals a day. For me, this simply did not work. I firmly believe that I psychologically started to crave more and more food.
    1. because I was used to eating all the time and became a little obsessed with it and slipped into chocolate/sweet darkness far more often
    2. because I wasn’t used to the hungry feeling anymore I had little tolerance for it. I found when I practiced being hungry from time to time, I increased my tolerance for the hunger pains and was less bothered by it – more pleasant to be around while hungry too.
    By eating 6 meals a day I also found that I was constantly gassy (not sexy) and was always digesting (which is annoying when you’re working out and makes me self conscious when I’m in close quarters). I think it’s healthy to give your digestive track a freaking break once and a while. It’s also inconvenient to eat 6 meals a day for a few reasons – 1. Preparation – 2. The caloric intake is so tight that if you learn of a function last minute….. you end up looking like the weirdo who doesn’t eat or drink anything. I find that if I allow myself to get hungry, I can nibble on this and that during these functions.
    For me it’s just a less demanding style of diet/lifestyle – of course you have to eat the appropriate nutrition your body requires or depending on your goals but yeah, so much less demanding. I just … you have no idea how nice it is to hear that it’s not going to kill me to be hungry.

    and my body got used to never beeing hungry

  13. I just wanted to say that this really motivated me. I can really relate to working hard and cutting down with weightloss, and embracing your hunger pain. I have never once in my life considered eating more than 3 meals a day when i’m trying to lose weight..I don’t like to be constantly thinking about food. I’ve lost up to 25 lbs in one month before because I stopped thinking so much about food and learned to embrace my hunger pains.
    For one, I started eating fruits and vegetables with my meals.
    For two, I told myself that I wasn’t going to even touch anything like cake or cookies because I knew it would make me crash being that food isn’t a real source of energy. I’m not saying you should never have but that was the easiest route for me.
    For three, I started drinking water when I was hungry…seriously where i used to think I was desperately hungry I ended up realizing I was just thirsty.
    For four, I exercised everyday, even if it was just 25 minutes and I always combined some strength training and cardio.
    For five, I kept my mind busy..when I got really hungry I would play tetris..wasn’t my favorite game but guess what I forgot about it quickly.
    Oh and coffee was a really good help to curve my hunger. For me the hardest part was just getting started.
    Anyway, good luck to all 🙂

  14. This is an easy theory in practice. Just be hungry. But the average person doesn’t have your great will power. Eventually, they will want to return to their old eating habits. Tired and the hunger gets so overwhelming, they will regain all the weight back. So what good is it to be hungry and lose weight, only to have it return when you reach your breaking point? For many people have suffer from weight problems most of their life (like myself), it is nearly impossible to go hungry all day long and lose weight without regaining it.

    Besides, most of what we lose during our hungry period is water. I have lost up to 15 lbs of pure water. I know it wasnt fat, because the fat was still there. My clothes fit the same. But the scale showed less. So lets not kid ourselves. The average person simply cant be hungry all the time the rest of their lives and keep weight off. You have to find a way to eat that allows you to feel somewhat satisfied , at least, in order to maintain it for life.

  15. Funny I did the Hollywood cookie diet, phentermine, total lean shakes, HCG & I failed at all of them. I’m eating healthily & working out…. That’s the best diet ever.

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