How Runners Can Avoid Feeling Hungry

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How Runners Can Avoid Feeling Hungry

woman eating lunch
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Many runners experience what I like to call the "rungries", that insatiable feeling of hunger you get when you're running on a consistent basis. It's probably happened to you: You eat a meal or a substantial snack and just an hour or two later, you're starting to feel hungry again.

The feeling is completely normal, especially if you've recently started a new running regimen or you've increase your exercise frequency or intensity. You're burning more calories, so your body needs to take more in. But it does present a tough dilemma for runners who are trying to lose weight or stay at their current weight.

So what's a hungry runner to do? Here are some ways you can avoid feeling hungry, without overindulging, and hopefully lose weight (or maintain your desired weight) in the process.

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Spread out your calories.

man eating lunch
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Spread out your calories by eating five to six small meals as opposed to three large ones during the day. If you wait too long for a large meal, you'll be starving and tempted to overindulge by the time you eat. Eating more frequent, smaller meals helps keep you full, and lets you stay in control.  Keep some of these 100-calorie snacks on hand so you can control your calories but still satisfy your hunger when it hits.

And don't assume skipping meals, such as breakfast, will help you consume fewer calories overall. The opposite is usually true, as you end up eating more later in the day than you would have if you ate a balanced breakfast.

Also see:  Healthy Snacks for Runners

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Eat high-fiber foods.

bowl of veggies
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Get lots of healthy, high-fiber foods in your diet. Most high-fiber foods require more chewing, which helps to satisfy hunger. High-fiber foods are usually bulky so they fill up your stomach faster and can also delay the time it takes your stomach to empty. Also, many high-fiber foods are low in calories, so you can satisfy your hunger with fewer calories. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are great sources of fiber.

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Drink plenty of water.

woman drinking water
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Are those really hunger pangs, or something else? When you're running on a regular basis, you may assume that feeling is hunger because you're burning so many calories, you MUST be hungry.

However, the hunger mechanism is stronger than thirst, so sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you're actually just thirsty. To make sure you're not getting a false feeling of hunger, try drinking a glass of water. Wait a couple of minutes and if you feel satisfied, you're probably just thirsty. Make sure you're staying hydrated so you can ward off those thirst signals that feel like hunger pangs. Do a urine check to make sure that you're well-hydrated. Your urine should be a light lemonade color. If it's dark yellow, you need to drink more water. You can also drink water before and with your snacks and meals to prevent overindulging.

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Slow down when you're eating.

woman eating lunch
Lise Gagne/Getty

It takes your body about 20 minutes to realize that it's full. If you eat too quickly, you'll consume unnecessary calories while your body is figuring out whether it's hungry. By the time your body realizes that it's full, you've already eaten more than you needed. It's especially important to slow down your eating after a hard workout or long run, when it's very tempting to give into post-run cravings because you figure you earned it.

If you eat slowly, your brain will start sending signals to stop eating at the right time. This is another reason to spread your calories out during the day -- you won't be starving when it's time to eat, so you'll take your time eating.

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