Q: I recently upped my triathlon training to 10–12 hours per week, and now I’m starving all the time. I eat three meals, plus snacks, including a snack before workouts. What can I do to tame my hunger?
A: For some athletes, perpetual hunger can be attributed to an inadequate intake of overall calories, or missing meals or snacks, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for you. More likely in this case, your hunger can be traced back to an imbalance in macronutrient intake (carbs, protein, fats) versus needs. Do you think you might be eating fewer carbs, protein or fat than you need? If you keep track of everything you eat and drink for a few days, you just might be able to figure it out. After keeping your “food log,” review what you have eaten. You should see per day:
- At least three servings of quality protein (lean meat, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or vegetarian bean/grain-based dishes)
- 5–9 servings of “good fats” (avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil)
- At least half of your daily intake from quality carbs (whole grains, beans, fruits, lentils, peas, corn, whole-grain breads, sweet potatoes)
If you are lacking in one of these macronutrients, you are likely to feel hungry all the time, as your body is not getting everything it needs.
Another common reason for perpetual hunger is missing pre- or post-workout fueling. Skipping meals or snacks surrounding workouts leads to increased hunger throughout the day. Start writing down what you’re eating and analyze if you’re fueling your efforts appropriately. If you need help, find a registered sports dietitian who can offer an expert’s perspective.
Lauren Antonucci, R.D., is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, three-time Ironman, mom of three and lover of all seasonal fruits. She is also the founding director of Nutrition Energy in NYC.
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