Are you hungry? Don’t be. When you cut back on carbohydrates, the trick is to fuel your energy needs with fat instead. Eat enough fat at your meals so that you are not hungry for at least 5 hours.
Shoot for feeling pleasantly satisfied, but not overfed. After dinner, you should make it easily through the night – 12 hours without hunger (if not more). Work towards finding this balance.
Below are a few refinements to this advice, if you really want to maximize the effectiveness of your low-carb diet. Most people never care about these things and they do well anyway. But for bonus points check out these five extra refinements.
1. Ease into fat adaption
When you begin your low-carb journey, you may find some high-fat foods taste ‘too rich.’ Be patient. As you transition to your new way of eating, both your body and your taste buds will adjust. Work up to eating enough fat to avoid hunger and allow your body time (at least a month) to settle into its new pattern of burning fat instead of carbohydrates.
When you find that balance, hunger will diminish as your body enjoys easy access to the body’s fat stores that were locked away by a high-carb diet.
2. Dial back for weight loss
Hoping to lose weight? If the answer is yes, once you are at ease with your low-carb diet, experiment with reducing the extra fat you add to meals.
Eat just enough to avoid hunger – let your body burn its internal fat stores rather than that extra pat of butter. This will accelerate weight loss.
But don’t go too far – when hungry, always opt for additional fat rather than cheating on your low-carb plan.
3. Add fat as needed for maintenance
Once you reach your goal weight, you no longer have the internal fat stores necessary to fuel an energy shortfall day after day. Tune into your body’s hunger signals. Now is the time to gradually add more fat to your diet until you find the satisfying balance of hunger-free weight maintenance.
4. Eat an adequate amount of protein
Part of the trick of minimizing hunger is making sure you eat the right amount of protein. For most people, this happens naturally. But, if you can’t beat your hunger by adding fat, or if you are eating very low-carb but stalled in weight loss, take a look at how much protein you are eating.
How much is enough? Individual needs vary, but about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (each day) may be optimal for weight loss. You may need more if you are active though, especially if lifting weights and building muscle.
5. Optional extra details
If you’re interested in even more details and discussion about adapting the amount of fat and protein to your exact needs, and your situation, watch this interview with Dr. Ted Naiman. Probably you don’t need to – most people don’t need to that much fine-tuning.