How to Manage Your Weight Without Being Hungry

Have you tried to lose weight by cutting down the amount of food you eat? Do you still feel hungry and not satisfied after eating? Or have you avoided trying to lose weight because you’re afraid of feeling hungry all the time? If so, you are not alone.  

Many people throw in the towel on weight loss because they feel deprived and hungry when they eat less. But there is another way. Aim for a slow, steady weight loss by decreasing calorie intake while maintaining an adequate nutrient intake and increasing physical activity.  

You can cut calories without eating less nutritious food. The key is to eat foods that will fill you up without eating a large number of calories. 

If I cut calories, won’t I be hungry? 

Research shows that people get full by the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they take in. You can cut calories in your favorite foods by lowering the amount of fat or refined carbs and or increasing the amount of fiber-rich ingredients, such as vegetables or fruit. 

Let’s take spaghetti with meat sauce as an example. The original meal uses regular spaghetti, 80% lean ground beef, and a jarred pasta sauce that contains sugar. Here’s how to remake this recipe: 

  • Use whole-wheat spaghetti instead of regular.  
  • Use 95% lean ground beef or ground turkey instead of 80% ground beef. 
  • Swap half the meat in the sauce for cooked lentils. 
  • Use a jarred pasta sauce with no added sugar. 
  • Add shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, or frozen spinach to the sauce.  

Your redesigned meal now has less fat and calories, and more fiber. 

What foods will fill me up? 

To be able to cut calories without eating less and feeling hungry, you need to replace some higher-calorie foods with foods that are lower in calories and fat and will fill you up.  

The number of calories in a particular amount or weight of food is called “calorie density” or “energy density.” Low-calorie-dense foods do not pack a lot of calories into each bite. 

Foods that have a lot of water or fiber and little fat are usually low in calorie density. They will help you feel full without extra calories. 

The chart below will help you make smart food choices that are part of a healthy eating plan. 

These foods will fill you up with fewer calories. Choose them more often… These foods can pack more calories into each bite. Choose them less often… 
Fruits and Vegetables (prepared without added fat) Fried foods 
Spinach, broccoli, tomato, carrots, watermelon, berries, apples, etc Eggs fried in fat, fried vegetables, French fries 
 Low-fat and fat-free milk products Full-fat milk products 
Low- or fat-free milk, low or fat-free yogurt, low- or fat-free cottage cheese Full-fat cheese, full-fat ice cream, whole milk 
 Broth-based soup Dry snack foods 
Vegetable-based soups, soups with chicken or beef broth, tomato soups (without cream) Crackers or pretzels, cookies, chips, dried fruits 
 Whole grains Higher-fat and higher-sugar foods 
Brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat products Croissants, margarine, shortening and butter, doughnuts, candy bars, cakes, and pastries 
 Lean meat, poultry, and fish Fatty cuts of meat 
Grilled salmon, chicken breast without skin, ground beef (lean or extra lean) Bacon, brisket, ground beef (regular) 
 Legumes (beans and peas)  
Black, red kidney and pinto beans (without added fat), lentils, green peas, black-eyed peas  

A healthy eating plan is one that

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-calorie beverages. 
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. 
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium), and added sugars. 
  • Stays within your calorie needs. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention