Wednesday 16 January 2013

Dealing with hunger - Fasting and training yourself

Nobody likes to go hungry, it's certainly not a nice feeling but we're lucky in that we live in a part of the world where real hunger is not a great issue for the majority.

The issue of nutrition and our relationship with food is complex and hunger plays a big part of the foods we choose to eat when we have a feeling of hunger.

Recently i decided to embark upon a 24 hour fasting period, this was for a few reasons, those being that i have read a lot about IF (intermittent fasting) in the last few years as well as played around with it, i had however never fasted for more than 16 hours. I was also having some issues with hunger and cravings and so wanted to mentally reset myself for dieting.

Research has shown that you can train yourself to identify true hunger and respond accordingly, whereas the hunger most people feel is not real hunger that those in 3rd world countries deal with on a daily basis. This study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism concluded that subjects could be trained to recognise when their blood glucose levels were low in relation to their hunger levels. When you choose to eat X amount of meals/snacks a day you become conditioned to carry this on and will eat in regards to the feeling this gives rather than when you are actually hungry, ultimately becoming mentally hungry over physically hungry. In my experience very few people can describe what hunger actually is in terms of physiological responses, similarly very few people go through what real hunger is.

By understanding hunger and how your body feels you will be in a better position to eat accordingly rather than overeat. If you can be conditioned to associate hunger with low glucose and as we know stable glucose levels are beneficial to weight loss it will be easier to lose weight and control the weight loss once off.

Throughout my fast i had up's and down's, it was hard to be around food in the first part of the day but after a while i had a strong well being feeling, towards the end i felt alert and the feeling of being physically tired had also passed. At times yes it was tough but it sounds harder than it is, which is because we automatically think fasting = being constantly hungry which is not the case, you simply go through phases of feeling hungry, get past those and you have a tool which will help reset hunger feelings, give the digestive system a rest, give you mental clarity and focus as well as a host of physiological benefits from fat loss to reducing inflammation.

This is something i would recommend to try if you feel you can fit it in to your lifestyle, however make sure you plan it correctly, a busy day with meetings at work may not be the best day to start. Keep yourself busy and the day will pass quickly, you'll get more done too as you wont be taking time up to make and eat food! As with all dieting methods research them properly first rather than just jumping on expecting it to be a quick fix, this is a tool to use, not the holy grail of fat loss.

As always any questions then feel free ask here or via my Facebook page  

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