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Ask the Trainer

Seven ways to ensure healthy food choices

By Chris Antonio | Jan 19, 2013

Have you ever felt like you’re so hungry you can’t control yourself? For years I fought this battle, wondering why I couldn’t stay committed to a healthy eating plan, but over time I figured out that is wasn’t a matter of willpower, but my poor diet that was causing the problem. During this time, I also learned there were certain things I could do that would give me a major advantage and help me stabilize the chemicals in my body. This made me feel less hungry, more satisfied and able to make healthy eating a lifestyle. Here are seven important things that helped me accomplish my goals. Try them; you’ll be amazed at the results.

Time meals correctly

Waiting too long to eat will spike insulin levels and cause you to eat larger portions and crave unhealthy foods that lead to weight gain. The body responds much better if we graze instead of gorge. Meals should be spaced approximately 2–3 1/2 hours apart for best results. Just as your body has digested the food, you feed it again. This technique will not only boost your metabolism but also reduce cravings, because it sends the signal that the body is constantly supplied with the proper nutrition and energy needed to fuel you through the day, and there will be no need to binge eat.

Eat quality complex carbohydrates

Foods such as white bread, bagels, potato chips and doughnuts are made from grains that have been stripped of their valuable fiber and injected with simple sugars, causing them to spike insulin levels, leaving you hungry and more likely to crave more fattening foods. To reduce cravings, replace these sugary fat bombs with better choices such as 100 percent wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole-grain pastas. These quality carbohydrates will provide a stable energy source and will help you lose weight as well as reduce hunger.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day

The average person gets nowhere near the required amount of H2O needed daily to promote a strong and healthy metabolism. The end results is poor performance, low energy levels, a sluggish metabolism and increased hunger. Research has proven that drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can kick your metabolism into high gear, help you properly digest food and reduce hunger by making you feel fuller and less likely to snack between meals. In fact, many people confuse hunger with thirst, so drinking enough water can help you control your appetite.

Add quality protein to your diet

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that a 15 percent increase in dietary protein could result in a significant amount of weight loss and can suppress hunger. Participants of the study naturally consumed fewer calories; they lost weight and reported feeling more satisfied and less hungry. Several other studies have come to similar conclusions, but the reasons are still unknown as to why protein helps shed pounds. Many experts believe it may be because protein promotes more stable insulin levels and has a positive effect on hormones that send signals to the brain telling it the body is sated.

Eat at least three servings of vegetables daily

Everyone knows vegetables are healthy foods, but what most people don’t realize is that eating several servings of vegetables a day with meals can actually help control cravings. You see, vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, which means they will fill you up quickly, leaving little room for bad foods as well as helping you feel satisfied and curbing your hunger.

Reduce sugar intake

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate with no nutritional value; it is known to cause weight gain, health problems and low energy levels. More importantly, sugar is addictive because it wreaks havoc on chemical levels, giving you a high that burns off quickly and leaves you tired, hungry and ready to eat some more. Reducing sugar will not only help you lose weight, but will stabilize insulin levels, helping you have better judgment and control over what you choose to eat.

Get 8-10 hours of sleep a night

In 2004, a study concluded that failure to get enough sleep causes the body to release a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite-stimulating hormone that tells the body you need food; it will make you feel hungry even when you’re not. However, when you get enough sleep the body releases another hormone called leptin that makes you feel full and tells the body to stop eating.

When you feel full, the body is not in crisis mode and you have the ability to be more selective with your food choices, making it easier to eat a healthy diet.

Separately, the above techniques are great ways to control hunger, but together they are nothing short of amazing. Give them a try - you won’t be disappointed.


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