Are you hungry or bored?

Understanding the difference between hunger and cravings can literally determine if your fat loss diet is a success.

Hunger is literally the physical distress caused by lack of food. Period.

A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. They can be triggered by emotions, stress, and environment. Someone can even experience strong food cravings without feeling hungry, which is yet another unhelpful glitch in our messy mental matrix.

So basically hunger is real but cravings are bullshit?

It ain’t that simple. But it’s important to know the difference because HOW you respond can significantly impact your fat loss efforts.

When you’re hungry, your body will send signals like stomach growling, feeling weak or dizzy, and a general sense of emptiness. Hunger also tends to occur at regular intervals, such as a few hours after a meal.

Cravings, on the other hand, can occur at any time, and can be triggered by emotions like stress, boredom, or loneliness, as well as external stimuli, such as seeing or smelling food.

Not surprisingly cravings tend to be the most intense when you’re also hungry, stressed, and fatigued (i.e. during extended dieting).

Continually giving into specific cravings, especially when you aren’t hungry or in-between meals, almost always leads to overeating. Definitely not a good fit if you’re trying to finally unleash your six-pack.

Here’s how to stop giving in and start taking back control.

1. When you experience a craving, delay giving in for 10-15 minutes. During this time, distract yourself or at least stay occupied. Sort your sock drawer. The key is to do something that takes your mind off food.

2. After 10-15 minutes, assess your hunger level. If you’re actually hungry, eat an appropriate snack or a planned meal.

But if you’re not physically hungry? Well you just exposed a craving. And now it gets interesting.

Why are you experiencing cravings?

Is your diet too restrictive?
Are calories too low or activity too high?
What’s your sleep like?
Is life stress getting out of control?
If you’re craving something specific, can you satisfy it somehow and stay on plan?
6. Or are you simply in the midst of a fat loss diet and your body is “reminding” you that its job is to keep you alive, not chisel your abs?

The response to point #6 is to suck it up and do something to take your mind off your diet.

And when in doubt, that works pretty good for points 1-5 as well.

Sometimes we overthink this stuff. Myself included.

– Coach Bryan