Running a specialist center for medical weight loss, each day I see patients who have struggled for a long time with failed attempts at losing weight. And without a doubt, hunger has been their biggest obstacle.
Although calorie restriction is necessary for weight loss, extreme and constant hunger shouldn’t be a side effect. Experiencing this type of hunger means that the body is not functioning optimally, and that you are not eating the nutrient-dense foods needed to get through the day.
Often, other issues like fluctuating blood sugar or hormonal imbalances like poor thyroid function, alongside nutritional deficiencies, are preventing your body from running properly. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including extreme hunger.
If you have struggled with hunger and want to make a new intention to lose weight and improve your health, here are some simple steps to get you on the right track.
1) Ask some key questions
Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “How do I feel?” Consider how you feel today, this week and longer term. Then ask yourself, “Do I like what I see?”
If the answers to these questions are negative, it’s probably time to consider how you can improve the way you look and feel.
2) Assess the facts
If you want to deal with your hunger and lose weight, it’s important to equip yourself with some essential basic data. First, find out what your body fat percentage is, and where the fat is located – hips and thighs? Abdomen?
Also find out your BMR or basal metabolic rate, which indicates how many calories your body naturally uses each day.
Your doctor can help with these assessments and tell you exactly how much fat you have in your body at present. Tracking body fat is essential to assessing progress in both weight loss and health improvement. Be sure to get a complete assessment – BMI alone is not an accurate measure of health, as it is just a ratio of your weight and height.
3) Consider Appetite
Hunger is a normal physiological response when your body has not been given fuel for a while. But experiencing constant hunger and cravings — even shortly after eating — can be a sign that your body is not functioning optimally. That’s why it’s wise to see your doctor if hunger is a real problem for you.
Control of appetite is essential for effective weight loss but there is good new for those who struggle with it. There are now many FDA-approved medications that were not available even a few years ago which can make a real difference.
I use these medications with my patients in conjunction with a healthy eating plan and physical activity, tailored to the individual’s needs. Remember, consuming nutrient-dense foods is important to how you feel, how your body is functioning and how your appetite is controlled.
4) Diet and eating plan
For weight loss success and weight maintenance, calories must be controlled. However, it is not just a question of reducing the number of calories. Instead, close attention must be paid to the balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat in specific grams. A doctor and dietitian can help you with this.
Ideally, you should have an eating plan customized to your own metabolism and specific needs. This means a plan based on your metabolic rate, body fat percentage, and muscle percentage, which are used to determine the amount of calories, protein and carbohydrates your body needs to run properly. A tailored plan like this will help control hunger and appetite, setting you on the path for success.
Once the plan is set, progress can be tracked on a Body Composition Scale to ensure fat is being lost and muscle is maintained.
5) Physical Activity
Physical activity revs up your metabolism, burns calories and strengthens your muscles, making it essential not only for weight loss, but especially for weight maintenance. This is why I always prescribe my patients key exercises to help them achieve – and maintain – their weight loss goals.
That’s why it’s important to track not just overall weight, but body fat and muscle percentage. Patients who maintain muscle mass throughout the weight loss process have higher success rates in keeping the weight off and staying healthy.
6) Nutritional support
Nutritional support in the form of pharmaceutical grade vitamins and supplements are also key to my patients’ success. These high quality products are more effective than over-the-counter products, which can often be cheap imitators.
I recommend a multivitamin, fish oil and probiotic to all patients, as well as adding tailored formulas depending on individual needs. This is dependent on age, medical and nutritional status, health history and possible allergies.
One of the most popular and most effective supplements I use is the Slim Plex supplement, which contains Green Tea Leaf Extract in addition to other herbs and vitamins.
The most important thing to realize about weight loss maintenance is that you may gain a few pounds back. The key is regular follow-up with your doctor and understanding that this requires lifelong management. Weight loss is not just following a “diet” and going back to old habits once you reach your goal weight.
To keep yourself on track, always keep healthy foods on hand, continue to schedule time for physical activity, be aware of external stressors and try to stay in tune with your body. If you don’t feel well or it seems that your body is not functioning as it used to, consult your doctor!
The key to our patients’ success is the multifaceted approach we take in treating them and helping them achieve their goals. Oftentimes weight control is not just a matter of “calories in versus calories out”. It’s about getting to the bottom of what’s going on in the person’s body, especially when it comes to hunger and appetite.
Dr. Sue G. Decotiis has over 20 years experience helping women with complex weight issues.
This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today.