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Keeping Hunger Under Control

Many young, hard-training athletes can be plagued with hunger. It seems that no matter what they eat or how often they eat, these active, growing teens are never full and constantly hungry. But after analyzing their diets, it’s easy to see that many of their meals are simply out of balance. With many athletes, we can actually reduce the number of calories by balancing the macronutrients and greatly improve the satiety value of the meals. Simply said, “It’s not the quantity of a meal, but the quality of the meal that will keep you full.”
As activity levels increase, so too will the appetite as well as caloric and nutrient requirements needed to support the growth and repair of an active athletic body. If you are often hungry during the day, it is important to identify the reason.
1. You may not be eating enough calories in meals to eliminate hunger for at least 3-4 hours.
2. You may be eating too many carbohydrates, triggering hormonal imbalances that cause hunger.
3. You may not be eating adequate protein in meals.
4. You may not be eating adequate fat in a meal.
5. You may be eating highly processed foods or sugar in the diet void of nutrients.
When meals are extra large in volume and high in carbohydrates, blood sugar can spike. For example, if you start your morning eating two bowls of cereal with non fat milk and an 8 oz. glass of orange juice, approximately 95 percent of the meal is from carbohydrates.  This typical, high-carbohydrate breakfast lacks adequate quality protein and fat, yet contains nearly 500 calories.  The problem with this meal is that it can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels which then can result in low blood sugar, less energy and hunger soon after.
But, a balanced breakfast that contains approximately 40% carbohydrates, 30% quality protein and 30% healthy fat can help stabilize blood sugar levels already within a normal range and effectively help control the body’s hormonal response that triggers hunger.
Designing Meals That Control Hunger
1.  Plan every meal with a quality source of protein, then build a balanced meal around it.  Protein is a powerhouse nutrient for controlling hunger. It supplies the amino acids required to build and repair vital body proteins, including the brain chemistry that tells you you’re full. Quality protein sources should be easy to digest and low in fat, with some of the best sources being eggs and egg whites, low fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, skinless chicken, turkey, fish and lean cuts of red meat.
2. Include fat in every meal. Fat is a critical macronutrient that supplies essential fatty acids which can only be obtained from a food source. Essential fatty acids play a critical role in energy, hormone production, blood sugar stabilization, and hunger control. The fat in a meal also slows down the digestion and absorption of the entire meal, reducing spikes in blood sugar and making the meal more satisfying. Some of the best sources of fat are found in wild salmon and other fish, raw nuts like almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts, olives and olive oil, avocados and raw unsweetened coconut. Just be sure to avoid trans-fats and foods loaded with saturated fats. 
3.  Choose carbohydrate sources that are high in fiber, nutrient dense and low in sugars for steady blood sugar control. Carbohydrates supply energy to the body and brain and should be approximately 40% of every meal. The ideal sources include almost all fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.  
The following are a few examples of balanced sample breakfasts that can help start your day off right and begin to get hunger under control. Each meal contains approximately 400 nutrient-dense calories, quality protein, fat, high fiber and slow-burning carbohydrates.  
40-30-30 Strawberry Mango Smoothie
Protein source - whey protein powder
Fat source - raw nuts or unsweetened coconut
Carbohydrate source - fruit
25 grams pure whey protein powder
3 tablespoons chopped raw macadamia nuts (not roasted)
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
2/3 cup water or crushed ice
Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Approximately 400 Calories (40 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 14 grams fat)
Breakfast Egg Sandwich
Protein source - egg and egg whites
Fat source - egg yolk and avocados
Carbohydrate source - tomato and whole wheat English muffin
2 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1/4 sliced avocado
1 thick tomato slice
1 whole wheat English muffin (or two slices whole wheat bread)
Directions:  Blend whole eggs and whites and cook in non-stick pan until set.  Fold over twice.  Toast English muffin and fill with egg, avocado and tomato. 
Approximately 400 Calories (40 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 14 grams fat)
Greek Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts
Protein source - Non-fat Greek yogurt
Fat source - raw nuts or coconut
Carbohydrate source - yogurt and fruit
1 1/2 cups non-fat Greek Yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped raw nuts or unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup of strawberries
Directions:  Top Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts.
Approximately 400 Calories (40 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 14 grams fat)
*Balance Bars are also an ideal snack before or after workouts, and contain approximately 200 calories with the 40-30-30 balanced ratio.
When you eat balanced meals throughout the day, you can finally begin to tame hunger and balance blood sugar for steady energy while providing all the nutrients necessary to build a healthy body.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist, Balance Bar Spokesperson and national best selling co-author of THE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program 

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