Understanding Hunger

By definition, “feeling or displaying the need for food”. And Likely most people’s largest struggle with fitness is a lack of understanding with their food intake, versus how much of that intake is being burned off on a daily basis. I always tell my clients, as it pertains to weight gain and weight loss, there’s no food that I’ll tell them we can’t have(noticed I said “we” and not “you”. Trainer/ client relationship is all about team work). Instead, we need to have a better understanding of how much we’re consuming. This is where the challenge starts, because it’s so easy to under-estimate our food intake. Add in the fact that nutrition labels can be wildly inaccurate, and a lack of understanding of how much energy our workouts burn off will leave a lot of people frustrated out there.

When I feel like I’ve established rapport with client’s/ potential clients I ask them about their current nutrition habits. I know I likely won’t get a totally accurate answer. Most of us are likely to under report what we consume, or simply forget. We’re perfectly imperfect humans. And maybe it can be a bit embarrassing to admit our truths. I totally get that, and I always let my clients know that even us trainers aren’t “perfect” ourselves when it comes to nutrition. And if there is an individual out there that only eats fruits and veggies, never drinks alcohol and doesn’t have any vice I wouldn’t wanna visit their home (there’s likely a dead body in the basement).

But there’s another challenge in understanding what it means to be truly hungry. There’s also a few factors that can impact our ability to have better understanding. After all nutrition is simple, but the human body is complicated.

Nutrition as it pertains to weight gain and weight loss boils down to food in vs food out, or how much did we eat to how much of that food we burned away, which is very simple. But us normal adult human beings deal with a lot more. Stressful days lead to long nights, that result in a crappy night of sleep. And when we have a crappy night’s sleep our body’s hormone system is thrown off because we’re supposed to wake up in the morning feeling well rested. But when we don’t wake up feeling well rested and we’re met with the regular stressors of the day our response is different than if we’re well rested. And when we find ourselves in this position there’s an easy tendency to reach for “comfort foods” ( especially if we walk into our office break room and someone brought donuts for the office team). Then of course, at the end of the day we’ll want to finally relax (here comes the wine). And we’re staying up a little later, having a less than quality sleep, and the process repeats itself day after day (Remember those care free days a kid? No wonder so many of us were fit little children. Now we’re adults, and we’re blaming our fitness struggles on our metabolism).

Hunger is easy to misinterprate for a lack of sleep, stress, boredom, & dehydration. And when when we’re in this state and food right in front of us, guess what’s gonna happen?? So what do we do about it? Address the entire pattern of behavior. Our overall health and fitness is multi factoral.


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Carlos Anthony Castro

Personal Trainer/Nutritionist at EQUINOX on The Miracle Mile, Marathon Runner