You’re sitting at your work desk and have been powering away for almost two hours after your lunch break. A quick look at your watch tells you its 3:07 and you are getting your first rumblings in the stomach.
Diverting your eyes from your work, you look around the office. There is a bottle of water on your desk, you keep spinning on your chair and see the banana on your desk- you think to yourself “nahhhh, that won’t do” and quickly spot on the other side of the room, Carol, hands tightly wrapped around a chocolate bar.
That’s it. Exactly what you want too- a chocolate bar. At least something sweet.
It’s a craving that is beyond just want, you feel it in your stomach as much as you do your tastebuds.
We are in no means shedding light on a new phenomenon here- we all know those mid-afternoon cravings are more often than not the things that literally pull the hand break on our results.
So why in all our years have we never craved a handful of blueberries or a banana- but lose count of the times we craved something sweet, or fatty?
There are two main reasons that you can be prepared to act against as of today. They are simple, but as is often the case the simple strategies often yield the greatest results.
Your Lunch is Letting You Down
When it comes to nutrition we often talk about blood glucose levels. In particular we talk about balancing them.
If you miss your lunch, or pick at something small- or worse still, punch a chocolate bar in at lunch- you can expect a sharp rise in blood sugar (particularly if you ate something sweet) that will be closely followed by a very, very steep drop.
A big drop in your blood glucose levels and guess what?
You end up feeling like rubbish. The muscles are running low on energy but you aren’t in the gym at three. You are powering through a days work in the office- therefore the big problem for you is brain fog, or maybe you just aren’t thinking as sharply as normal.
As far as fixing this goes- its quite simple really. Make your lunch count.
First and foremost your food choices should be healthy (obviously). But portion your plate up between protein, carbohydrates, fats and coloured vegetables.
Regardless of your training goal or body shape we would recommend a minimum of two handfuls of coloured vegetables. If you can, go more. You have our blessing.
When it comes to protein a portion that is the size of your palm, up to 1.5 times the size of your palm is where it’s at.
Fats and carbohydrates are where we start to tweak things a little.
If you are looking to drop some body fat, we would recommend a half palm serving of carbohydrates and two to three times your thumb as your serving of fats.
If you are already quite lean (for men abs are showing, for women you have an outline of abs) you can go a full palm size serving of carbohydrates and one to two times your thumb as your serving of fats.
There should be plenty of calories going down the hatch at lunch time- of course we don’t mean to the point of almost vomiting but a good meal and it is important to taaaaakkkkeeee yoooouuuuurrrrr time eating. Also doesn’t hurt to add some water.
Leptin and Ghrelin
Leptin and Ghrelin, amongst other functions are closely tied with appetite- leptin being the hormone that lets us know we are full, ghrelin on the flip side lets us know when we are hungry.
We are going to pay a little more attention to ghrelin today, as rising levels of ghrelin tend to be the ones that cause us some trouble with cravings.
Calorie deprivation, or the typical “diet” can cause higher levels of ghrelin. The problem here is when the hormone increases we tend to overeat. This is one of the many reasons why the typical diet just doesn’t work but we will go into that in more detail next time.
It’s thought not only does ghrelin increase appetite, it can also trigger thirst. The thing is there is no person reminding you that you may just need water and not a full packet of Tim Tam’s. By consuming a glass of water before you have your meal you will be much less likely to over consume on the meal.
Another cheap (to be fair its free) tip that you can implement from your very next meal is take your time chewing. Don’t rush. Enjoy the meal and the extra chewing tells your brain that you are satisfying your hunger.
Appropriate fibre, complex carbohydrates, leave you feeling full while healthy fats slow the digestion process down all suppressing ghrelin to make sure you are feeling fuller for longer.
In the instance you always begin to feel a little tired, or hungry for something unhealthy around mid afternoon- have a healthy fat snack readily available to knock the hunger on its head. Obviously, have a glass of water with it too.
Next week we will have a look into the flaws of the traditional diet. Until then- as per usual, sing out if you have any questions in the comments section below.
The Hybrid Team