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STARVING in the afternoons

During the past couple of weeks I have noticed that I am unusually hungry in the afternoons. Literally shaking from hunger. I normally have a protien, a veggie and a fruit for lunch and I have tried eating different types of lunch: more protien, more carbs, etc. but nothing is helping. (and it doesn't help that I become extremely irritable when this happens which is hard for coworkers...)

For example since lunch I have eaten an apple, a handful of baby carrots and 1/2 a power bar and I am STILL hungry.

Any suggestions?

Thu. Jun 15, 6:46pm

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When I am really hungry in the afternoon I usually go for string cheese and an apple. The cheese is the key though - if I just ate the apple I'd still be hungry. Sometimes only something with protein will do. Also make sure you drink something. For some reason I find hot drinks satisfy me more than cold so I may have a cup of hot tea if I am feeling hungry and sweetening it with splenda makes it seem more like a snack than a drink. Another substantial snack is Lite Laughing Cow cheese (1 triangle) mixed with 1 Tbsp of Trader Joe's Roasted Vegetable Tapenade and spread on 1 serving of whole wheat crackers. That is really filling and darn tasty (looks ugly though). If you stick to the serving size on all those items it comes in under 150 cals. I'm sure folks will have more but that's my 'hungry' snacks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 6:59 PM

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Water usually helps me A LOT with hunger pangs!

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 8:18 PM

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Peanut butter (PB) and celery-small amount of PB of course...........

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 8:37 PM

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I'd get my blood sugar checked if I were you. I've been hungry, and cramped from hunger, but shaking sounds more like a low blood sugar issue.

what are you eating for lunch, what is your workout routine? How much do you usually eat in a day?

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 9:01 PM

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What worked for me

EAting more protein. 2-4 oz. at every meal (including snacks). I started on this eating plan 2 weeks ago and after 2 days I wasn't hungry. And this from a girl who is ALWAYS hungry. I've actually had trouble finishing my meals for the past couple of days...AND I've upped my exercise considerably this week. Still no increase in appetite. It's amazing. I'm eating low fat, lower carb and higher protein and also NOT eating high glycemic foods. It's amazing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 9:21 PM

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I know that some on PT think this is eeeeeevil... but a couple of mugs of black coffee works like a charm for me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006, 9:29 PM

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Ok - let me start out by saying that if you are literally shaking from hunger, it is probalby time to see a doctor or nurse practitioner - make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong going on.

As to the topic of mid-afternoon hunger (or really hunger at any other time), I have a copule of thoughts. First of all, everyone's body is a little bit different. You may be following a plan to the letter, but that plan - whatever it is - may need to be tweaked a little bit so it works right for your body. So - suggestion number 1 is to experiment a little with slight alterations to your current plan and see if adding a little of this or that (and you will need to experiment with different thises and thats) will help you with your hunger issues without derailing your overall weight loss work.

Second, I will share with you my own experience with hunger (which may or may not be similar to your experiences). For most of my life, I have believed in low-fat diets and generally drank 1 % milk (never made it to skim), and consumed low-fat or no-fat cheese, had non-fat snacks like pretzels or whatever, etc. All of this left me hungry and made most diets unsustainable. Then, at the suggestion of some friends, I tried eating a HIGHER fat diet - contrary to everything I thought I should do. I switched to whole milk, put half and half in my coffee, etc. I am not saying that I started swallowing tubs of lard for breakfast or anything. I just added bits of higher fat foods back into my diet - whole milk, butter, etc. Adding a little bit of fat and a little bit of protein back into my diet has made me a lot less hungry overall. That, and cutting out added table sugar, has allowed me to consume many fewer calories and lose weight. I do not know why this has worked for me and I do not know if any of this might work for you, but I thought I'd share my experience.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 9:34 AM

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If you are hungry, you should eat. Eat real foods, carbs+protein+fat, not something that will go right through you. If you wait until you are shaking from hunger, that's too long... and some fruit and baby carrots are not going to fill you up at that point.

I have also found that a bigger breakfast helps me later in the day. For example, a 300 calorie breakfast left me hungry all day, but I thought I was "saving up" calories for later in the day because I would be famished around 4:30 PM. But a solid 500 calories, with fruit, veggie sausage patties, and a big bowl of whole grain oatmeal, actually makes me less hungry all day, and I typically don't even have an afternoon snack after lunch anymore.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 9:47 AM

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What is missing in your lunch is fat. Fat is the most filling type of food. Add some cheese, or peanut butter, or an egg, or a serving of almonds, etc. Or save one of these as an afternoon snack.

I know, it seems like so many calories for such a small portion of food, but I promise, if you cut out some carbs and replace them with some fat, for the same number of calories, you'll stay fuller for longer. Just give it a try for a few days!

Friday, June 16, 2006, 10:49 AM

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OP here
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I honestly don't think it's a problem with my blood sugar (I'm 25 and in pretty good shape) but I will keep an eye on it and if diet doesn't help I will get it checked out.

I really like the idea of eating more for breakfast. I have been sticking with about 160-300 at breakfast so I will try that.
I also have increased my workout routine to 5 days a week without increasing my daily calorie intake (1100-1500)...
So another question: could my metabolism have increased since increasing my workout routine and maybe my body is just asking for more food? As a "reformed" crash dieter I have had a hard time getting used to eating small things throughout the day instead of just 3 meals... I always feel like I am eating too much!!

Friday, June 16, 2006, 12:06 PM

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If your metabolism has increased, you should be seeing faster weight loss, or inch-loss, than you used to see, if you're keeping to the same number of calories.

Seriously, though, try getting some more fat into your diet. There's a reason that Atkins works (and I'm NOT advocating it); its b/c if you eat more fats, you don't have to eat as much food, b/c it's filling for way longer than any other kind of food. You just need to watch your portion size, b/c it takes 20 minutes to feel full. Eat 1oz almonds (about 17 almonds), and you can do it in like 3 minutes, and you could keep going. But if you stop for 20 minutes, you'll find you do get full.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 12:25 PM

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I second the idea that upping your breakfast would most likely be helpful. For me, I find that I need to get a solid, high fiber grain in, some protein and a fruit, veggie if I can manage it, and that sticks with me SO much better! You might also try front-loading your water intake in the day, getting a lot in right off the bat. It helps get your energy level up and your body is able to break down fat more easily the better hydrated you are.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 12:52 PM

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Your metabolism is actually probably slowing down if you are only eating 1100 calories AND exercising. Your body thinks you are starving it and will try and hold onto whatever it can. (Especially if you have crash dieted in the past). That's also why your body is sending you these hunger signals! Make sure to eat when you are hungry, or you may end up binging later.

Also, make sure you replenish your fuel source of carbs so your body has proper energy, because otherwise your body will basically have to eat away your muscle stores along with your fat. I would say alternating between 1400 and 1600 calories would be better if you are exercising.

Again, if you are hungry, eat! If you aren't, don't eat at certain times because you think you should. Eat healthy foods until you feel full and energized.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 4:26 PM

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In looking at some of the examples below, it appear that peanut butter, stringcheese, or just cheese in general, are helpful. Not only do they have protein, but they also have fat. does your diet include enough fat? Also, I've recently read, as well as overheard, something about artificial sweetners actually making you feel hungrier than you would have otherwise. I'd look at your ration of fat, protein, and carbs.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 4:36 PM

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To the OP from an MD - Exercise increases your metabolism when you start putting on muscle, but you won't put on muscle if you aren't getting the calories you need from your diet. Going on diets less than 1200 calories slows your metabolism, puts you in starvation mode, and hurts your weight loss. And when you stop your diet, you end up gaining back more weight because you still have a slow metabolism. Your poor body is confused and you are setting yourself up for yo-yo dieting. I've been there before and am on PT to try to put a stop to it.

I think all of us are here on PT because at some point in our lives we forgot how to listen to our bodies telling us we are hungry or full. My number one rule for weight loss is to listen to your body. It is okay to eat when you hungry, no matter what time or how often, as long as you eat smart and stop when you are full. Sometimes I find myself extremely hungry at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Sometimes I will eat dinner then - yeah yeah, the early bird special, I know. But it keeps me satisfied all evening. On the other hand, if i tell myself it's too early for dinner then I find myself stuffing everything I can find into my face all night as soon as I get off work.

My advice? Listen to your body. A good measure for weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, MAX. Less than that could mean you aren't dieting enough, but it could also mean that your body thinks it is starving and is holding onto everything it gets. More weight loss than that means you will probably plateau soon once your body thinks it is starving.

And a quick tip to all of the regular exercises out there - somethimes the best thing after a hard workout is a quick high carb snack. You have to replace the glycogen in your muscles, which is what your body uses for energy. And when it is low, you can get the "shakes" or feel run-down. I'm not trying to lecture here, because I made the mistake of not having something to eat yesterday after my workout and wound up feeling sick and tired for the entire evening, which finally ended with a migraine and me throwing up. Fun for all.

Friday, June 16, 2006, 5:25 PM

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I took a running class last summer, and the person teaching the class told us the same thing-- that we should re-fuel our glycogen stores AFTER a workout with a small high carb snack.... I found that it really made me feel better and not so exhausted the next day! :-) They had us eat a REALLY yummy home-made granola bar made with whole grains and nuts, and chocolate. Sounded sinful, but the next day I was far less tired. I definitely have found that advice to be quite useful!

Also, I try to "graze" during the day-- i.e. eating smaller meals throughout vs. long times in between meals. I find that it helps me to eat less... Also, eating something high in protein really helps to keep me from getting too hungry from meal to meal, too!

Monday, June 19, 2006, 1:09 AM

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For me what works is more protein, a little more fat which is why an ounce of nuts or a piece of cheese works so well for so many people as a snack. I used to have this probem daily until I ate more small meals. Sounds like you are just not consuming enough calories perhaps.

Monday, June 19, 2006, 6:14 AM

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OP again:
Thanks a lot, I appreciate the suggestions. I started today with high fiber cereal, skim milk and 1/2 a whole wheat bagel and wasn't hungry during the AM. Also ate chicken, noodles and veggies for lunch (340 calories) so I will see if it helps.
I am planning to eat more calories per day and vary them from day to day to see if that helps. I typically drink about 100 oz of water throughout the day but made sure to get in a lot first thing this morning. Thanks again!!!

Monday, June 19, 2006, 3:20 PM

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