Developing a leaner physique with visible abs has always been one of the most popular fitness goals. While strong might be the new sexy, it isn’t as if a lean, muscular physique and a stunning set of six-pack abs are going out of style. You probably understand that to shed the fat that’s covering your abs, you need to go into a caloric deficit, i.e. eat less calories than you’re burning.

But if you’re dieting to increase your muscle definition, you probably also know that hunger can be a huge issue. Hunger might be the single biggest reason why people fall off their diets and fail to develop a leaner, meaner physique. As determined as you might be at the beginning of your cutting phase, that determination quickly wanes after the first two weeks on your fat loss plan. When hunger hits you, if you’re not prepared, you will fall off the wagon.

 

Manage Your Hunger and Satiety Hormones

Hunger and satiety are largely controlled by your endocrine system. To manage and minimize your hunger in a way that lets you stay consistent with your fat loss plan, you first need to learn what hunger and satiety are, and how they work.

You have two main hunger and satiety hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is your main hunger hormone, and it directly signals your brain that you need to seek out food. Leptin, on the other hand, is your main satiety hormone. It is produced mainly in fat cells, and it signals your brain that you are full and should stop eating. Generally, ghrelin levels are highest and leptin levels are lowest just before a meal, and vice versa—ghrelin levels are lowest and leptin levels are highest right after a meal.

 

Know Your Macronutrients

Macronutrients are your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and they provide you with the energy to function. What you might not know is that each macronutrient provokes a different satiety response.

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient out of the three. This is one of the reasons why you want to make sure that you’re consuming a sufficient amount of protein when you’re on a fat loss diet. It will help you feel full longer, and mitigate uncontrollable hunger. You want to consume around 0.9g of protein per pound of body weight (or 2 g per kg) per day.

 

Pick Foods Lower in Calories Per Gram

 

Another way to mitigate hunger on a fat loss diet is to pick foods that are relatively lower in calories per gram. One of the ways your body manages hunger and satiety is through stretch receptors in your stomach. If your stomach is fuller, satiety hormones are secreted to tell you to stop eating.

 

Since you need to eat less calories, but at the same time you want to minimize hunger, your best bet is to pick foods that are relatively lower in calories per gram. For example, 100g of boiled white rice contain 130cal, while 100g of boiled broccoli contains just 35cal.

 

Double Down on Solid Food

People who are struggling to gain weight are often advised to add liquid calories. This is not a coincidence, because solid food leaves the stomach slower than liquids, and are more satiating. This is also why if you’re on a fat loss diet, you want to swap the orange juice and milk for water. You might also want to substitute solid food for your liquid meals as well, for the time being. This will help you further minimize hunger when you’re in a deficit.