It’s 10:49am, and I’m hungry.
I ate a full breakfast at 8:30am. Protein pancakes, oatmeal, berries, and 3 eggs. It actually ended up being MORE calories than I normally have for breakfast, but I feel like I could eat a full meal again. Why?
It’s because even though a calorie is a calorie, what you eat still matters and makes a big difference when it comes to being successful at eating right.
Let’s look at the main differences between my normal breakfast, and what I had today.
Usually, I have a bowl (about 200-250g) of my favorite meal prep. Bacon, potatoes, brussel sprouts, with 3 eggs on top. I also have a bowl (80g) of oatmeal with frozen berries (60-100g) and a dash of 0 cal maple syrup. In total this comes out to around 800-900 calories, with about 440 cals (110g) from carbs, 225 cals (25g) from fat, and 200 cals (50g) from protein.
I’ll eat this anywhere from 6:30am-8:30am depending on the day, and it will keep me full until 12-1 pm or so. (Side note: A good rule of thumb is that if you eat a properly balanced and portioned meal it should keep you full for about 4 hours).
So why then, has my 950 calorie breakfast this morning left me so hungry after only 2 hours? It’s because of what I ate. No the pancakes I had this morning won’t cause me to gain weight as some philosophies will have you believe. At the end of the day weight gain/loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out. However, if you’re trying to stick to a certain caloric load, by eating lots of foods like pancakes, you’re making it very hard on yourself.
You see, foods like pancakes (simple sugars/refined grains), are very easily digested. They’re great to have if you need to workout soon after eating in fact. So to say they’re “bad” for you would be wrong. However, if the base of your meal is something like pancakes, or a sandwich, or pasta, or rice, and it doesn’t come accompanied by lots of protein, fats, and fiber, you will be left feeling hungry sooner than is ideal, and are then likely to eat more because you “need a snack”. The same is true for eating too little. Not enough food can lead to you eating MORE food later, which if you’re trying to lose weight, is detrimental to your goals.
Potatoes and brussel sprouts, on the other hand, are some of the most satiating foods there are. There’s plenty of fiber in them, they take up more space because they aren’t as calorically dense, and therefore you literally feel more full.
So if you are a chronic snacker, a simple change in what you are eating, or how much of certain foods you are eating, could make a big difference for what seems like a constant battle of always feeling hungry.
Here’s an easy way to make a meal for yourself. It may end up feeling like WAY too much food if you’re not used to eating this way, but because it’s not calorically as dense you probably won’t be eating any “more” than you normally would.
- Start with 2-4 fist fulls of veggies, (50-200g if you’re like me and the ambiguity of a fistful drives you nuts). Ideally leafy green vegetables, but really whatever ones you know you’ll eat. Some of my favorites are brussel sprouts, broccoli, peppers, lettuce, asparagus, and peas!)
- 1-2 cupped hands of complex* carbohydrate (double this if the carb is already cooked. Rice usually at least doubles in size due to retaining the water weight). Another rule you could use is ¼-⅓ of your body weight in grams of carbs depending on how many meals you’re having. So say you weigh 200-lbs, that’s 50-66g of carb. (*complex meaning a source of carbohydrate that has fiber, protein, and more in it, like potatoes, rice, beans, or whole grain breads or pasta’s. Ideally sugar in your coffee wouldn’t be your source of carbs in the morning)
- 1-2 palm sized portions of a lean* protein. More protein means the meal will be more filling, so adjust this as you go to suit yourself. ⅕-¼ of your bodyweight in grams would be a good estimation if using your palm seems too abstract. (*lean protein are things like chicken breast, white fish, pork tenderloin, 93% or higher ground meat, or other low fat sources of protein.)
- Finally, a thumb-size (10-20g) of fats for flavoring. Think olive oil, butter, nuts, seeds, or other similar items. If you ended up having a fatty cut of meat, skip the added fat here.
Eat a meal like this 3-4 times a day, and the craving for snacks should go down, and so should your waistline and the scale!
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