Are you really hungry?
This seems like a straightforward, almost patronizing question to ask someone who has been eating food every day since they were brought into this world. I would say that most people would consider themselves subject matter experts on the topic, confident enough to testify in court! This article is not meant to questions your basic understanding of hunger, but to outline some of the pitfalls that we can come across when we modify our diet and remove a few specific fuel sources that our body has built up a dependence on for the majority of our lives.
Hunger (in the middle class) is has become more of a trained response than a valuable biofeedback signal for our survival. Just like pavlov’s dogs who can be trained to salivate to only the sound of a bell, we as human program ourselves to feel hungry based on many outside stimuli. Assuming you are fortunate enough to have all of your basic needs met and you are not struggling to pull together enough money to feed your family, food then becomes a hobby far more than an essential life function. We go to “fancy” restaurants and explore new places to get lunch, rarely is nutrition the driving force behind our decision on where to eat, it’s usually seeking novelty or a specific flavor profile. What this means is that eating and hunger are no longer primarily biologically driven, they are psychologically driven. We “think” we are hungry when more often than not we really aren’t.
These are some common erroneous “triggers” we have been trained to indicate hunger:
- Time of Day
- Procrastination (Typically From Stress)
- Addiction (To sugars)
But I need to eat to have energy!
To put the energy argument to bed, even if you had a body fat percentage in the low teens (the average body fat percentage of non-obese men is 23% and 34% for women) you would have enough energy stored in your fat cells to keep you going for WEEKS. The key to the Apollo Challenge is training your body to utilize the RIGHT sources of energy (fat) and stop relying on the “quick fix” of carbohydrates. We become addicted to the quick fix of sugars and our body rewards us with a similar response as if we had taken cocaine! But this euphoric response subsides quickly and we are left reaching for more cheap carbs. This is why so many people get caught in the cycle of binge eating and snacking when in reality you already have all of the energy you need to get through your day, eating the right foods is then just a way to keep that topped up.
The standard American diet is dominated by simple carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, pastries. A sandwich is like wrapping healthy foods with simple carbohydrates in an effort to very cheaply increase the caloric value of that meal. Simple carbohydrates are cheap calories. These are also the calories that we are most susceptible to become addicted to. The results become compounded when we consume gluten containing carbohydrates as we develop an opioid response (that is similar to heroin) when we consume gluten containing products.
How do we combat perceived hunger?
- After all that you may actually be hungry and need to add more fats to your diet. This is common in the first two weeks of the program as you are getting used to burning fat instead of glucose and you have not adjusted your habits to include enough fat in your meals. Adding avocado and plenty of olive oil to salads and cooking with high-quality oils is a great way to ensure fat intake. Adding MCT oil and butter to your coffee (Smart Coffee) is the best way to supplement your fat intake!
- You may be dehydrated. Our bodies can confuse the signal for thirst with the signal for hunger. Go drink a full glass of water and give yourself 5 minutes to see if your cravings subside (I don’t suggest watching paint dry while waiting for the cravings to subside, your mind will tend to only falsely magnify these feels if not distracted).
- As we mentioned above, carbohydrates rarely satiate our appetite long-term. By making sure the only foods available to you are high-quality fats and proteins, its far less likely that when you get the first pangs of hunger that you will reach for the cheap stuff.
One of the first things people exclaim when they are exposed to a low-carb diet is “well what is there left to eat?” This scarcity mentality serves no one well. When you look at the foods in our #ApolloApproved Foods article, you will notice that there are plenty of food options for you to choose from, variation is really only limited by your creativity. When we approach this from a place of abundance, that there are hundreds of food options that you CAN eat to achieve optimal health we get closer to internalizing the true intention of the Apollo Challenge. Remember, being mindful of the source of your perceived hunger and using some of these tips can keep you from succumbing to cheap carbs and if you do find that you are truly hungry make sure you are only feeding yourself the highest quality fats and proteins.