With as crazy as "diet" plans can be, it's no wonder why so many of us fall off the wagon time and again. I hear tales of 1200 calorie liquid diets or diets that cut fats or carbs completely because of supposed vices. Then we start to feel pains in our guts, happily that this feeling is hunger, and the longer we ignore it, the more weight we drop. But this pain is not hunger. It's starvation.
So how do you tell the difference when you cut calories?
Starvation is painful. Your stomach will feel like it's cramping. You might even feel sharp pains through the gut. It interferes with your ability to work at max efficiency. After a while, you'll begin to feel extremely lethargic.
Hunger, on the other hand, is more like a little nagging voice in your head. You may have some rumbles, but it's not painful and you can easily focus on other activities.
And hunger is what diets should cause. It's a natural response to dropping weight. Suddenly, your excess energy stores are being depleted. Clearly there's a famine. Better make you crave everything edible you come across so you can outlast these lean times. Our minds overreact as they are prone to do. But if you cut in small steps, the body has time to adjust, making the desires manageable.
Unfortunately, many aim to lose 2-5 pounds per week. But this is just too much to handle mentally. If you think the brain overreacts to 0.5 to 1 pounds lost weekly, just think of how crazy it will go dropping more than double. It's like expecting yourself to be able to run a triathlon even though you've never once run a mile. You can't consume 3000+ calories per day and then expect to be able to drop down to 1800 without some serious blow back. On top of this, there's a good chance you'll be dropping a serious amount of food without taking nutrition into account, resulting in legitimate starvation.
Weight loss, like all other things in life, is slow and steady. You have to learn how to identify hunger and you have to learn how to control this very basic urge. That's why it's best to take weight loss in 0.5 to 1 pound weekly increments. There's no threat of starvation therefore you can learn what healthy hunger is. It also keeps you from associating the pain of starvation with eating less. And with all things, this takes practice and time -- two things "diet" plans will try to convince you aren't necessary.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.