Should we ’embrace hunger’ to meet our fitness goals?
(is that really a question?)
About a month or two ago a minor Dutch actress, DJ and self-proclaimed fitness guru launched her book about fitness and diets (no I’m not going to mention her name because that’s not the point). In an interview about her diet recipes she said: “You have to learn to love your hunger”.
Her fitness tips (which probably are good) set aside: this ‘philosophy’ of ‘loving your hunger’, as stated by a role model to many young women, is really out of bounds and reminds me of how the ‘healthy’ fitness industry is sometimes closer to orthorexic dysfunction than actual health.
Hunger is being seen as something to ignore and suppress rather than satisfying it, not only by women but also by more and more men. We tend to forget hunger actually serves a purpose. More than one, actually.
When your body yells “Hunger!” it’s not something you should ignore. It yells ‘hunger’ because it needs some fuel to function properly*. Especially when you work out a lot (also, if you strive to lose weight and be leaner), you need even more fuel. If you don’t have enough fuel or energy, your body will burn off more than just fat cells; it will burn your muscles, too. This causes a lot of damage to your body due to the overproduction of stress hormones such as cortisol (which also throws your mind off balance, btw); if calorie intake drops too much your body enters a protective starvation mode in which it actually hoards fat. So in the end, the ‘Hunger Game’ only has losers.
Don’t forget that eating and truly enjoying your food contributes to satisfying not only your basic physiological needs (i.e. your hunger) but also your social needs. Food is the social glue that brings your family, friends, and loved ones together to spend time, catch up on the day and have fun. Food is to be enjoyed. Not to be afraid of..
The bottom line
Don’t be part of the ‘Hunger Games’, it’s not a game. Obey your body when it tells you it needs food. It’s just like being thirsty; this means you are dehydrated.
If losing weight (body fat) is your goal, don’t eat less but change what you eat and stick to it. Eat food that contains less stuff that gets stored to the fat cells; regulate the ratio of healthy fats, adequate protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates** in your diet. Obey your hunger; change what you eat. It’s as simple as that, really.
Hunger shouldn’t be perceived as something to crave! Especially in this world where too many people actually die of hunger. Come on. Duh.
*Agreed; some people do overeat. The stomach can be used to large amounts of food that the body can’t process and thus, stores to fat .Loads of it. The body itself doesn’t compare itself to others. It doesn’t know you might be overweight. Even if you are obese. For your body it’s the usual status quo.
Screaming “Hunger!” will not be real hunger in the case of obesity. There IS a difference here.
**Stay tuned for more information on that topic!