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TakingTheWheel

New to Weight Training and Hungry...So Hungry! :-(

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Greetings and salutations, fellow lifters! I recently decided to prioritize my health and fitness for, perhaps, the first time in my life.

 

Without going into too much detail, for as long as I can remember, I've been on the trim side. However, as of late, at the ripe "old" age of 35, I noticed I'm slowly becoming more skinny-fat than slim. I've never been a twig so I wouldn't consider myself a hard-gainer or true ectomorph. However, based on my previous flirtations with fitness and lifting weights, I'm not one of those guys on whom God bestowed perfect genetics for muscle building. In short, I've always considered myself painfully average: in height (5' 9"), weight (right now I'm hovering between 140-142), and strength. Years of disciplined dance classes gave me strong legs, but as far as my upper body is concerned, let's just say I won't be turning heads (or tearing through my shirts, Hulk style) anytime soon. And I've always been self-conscious and unhappy about that. To that end, as I said at the beginning of this post, I've finally decided to do something about it and stay the course with a fitness routine. I'm only on my second week of 3x/week workouts but I already feel a ton better about myself. Action has grace, magic, and power in it! The one thing I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around is my diet.

 

I've been tracking my calories as accurately as possible for the past few days, and I noticed that my normal diet is almost always 300-500 calories over my recommended maintenance calories. The one thing I did wrong my first time out trying to get fit and build muscle years ago was fail to put my body in a calorie surplus. I knew even less about diet than I do now and I just wasn't aware of my protein intake and calorie counts per day. So, I saw little to no results and ultimately gave up. This time around, though, I'm determined to make the body changes I desire.

 

So, as I said before, I'm a week into my training routines, I'm generally eating 300-500 calories over maintenance, and I'm definitely doing well as far as protein intake is concerned. Yet...I've been getting ravenously hungry every few hours. During the work week, I'm conscious of the times I'm eating and have developed a decent regimen of food intake throughout the work day (every three hours or so) to keep my metabolism stoked. However, even with that, I'm still crazy hungry between feedings. What gives?

 

Is it possible I'm not eating enough these days? I've read that it doesn't take more than a few hundred calories post workout to stimulate muscle building/repair. So, I hesitate going TOO far over my maintenance calories for fear of gaining more fat than muscle. But I AM eating more than my maintenance calories according to my food tracking app. What's a guy to do? Is it OK to just let yourself feel hungry and then eat at one's regularly scheduled time? Are these hunger pangs just part of the beginning lifter's adaptation phase? Or is my body really starved? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Peter

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Eat more protein (that is, if you're not getting at least 1g/lb of bodyweight) and aim for 5-8 servings of vegetables every day, and don't drink any of your calories. Stick with longer digesting starches (whole grains, baked potatoes, lentils & beans, etc), and drink lots of water. Carbonated water is a great way to confuddle the 'I feel hungry but I'm actually thirsty/bored' conundrum many of us fall into. If you need recipe ideas, check out the 'Slow Carb' diet that Tim Ferris advocates.

 

RE: not eating enough - are you losing weight? If not, then you're good to go! If you are, then bump it up by 100kcal or so and see what happens. And, yes, unfortunately you may need to get used to being hungry; it may work out that your body resets in a couple of weeks and hunger dissipates. Some guys find that intermittent fasting helps to manage cravings, al la Leangains style (fast for 16hrs/day, eat for 8hrs - it works out to skipping breakfast and eating all your calories between lunch & dinner w/ snacks) - and for some men, this can even improve their training results.

 

A bit more info for ya: https://legionathletics.com/clean-bulking/

 

'Hope that helps!

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I am assuming you want to maintain your current weight, improve body composition? Else ignore everything I wrote below.

 

1) are you weighing yourself everyday? if so look at the trend - if you are not losing weight given a average amt of daily calories (eg. 2.3k calories per day) then you are in the right place.

2) if you are losing weight, add 200-300 calories to the average and give it a week and see how the trend shakes out. 

3) wrt 1), if you are weighing yourself, try to do it same time everyday so you don't add any confounding factors. Personally I do it first thing in the morning, it's just part of my routine. 

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3 hours ago, godjira1 said:

I am assuming you want to maintain your current weight, improve body composition? Else ignore everything I wrote below.

 

1) are you weighing yourself everyday? if so look at the trend - if you are not losing weight given a average amt of daily calories (eg. 2.3k calories per day) then you are in the right place.

2) if you are losing weight, add 200-300 calories to the average and give it a week and see how the trend shakes out. 

3) wrt 1), if you are weighing yourself, try to do it same time everyday so you don't add any confounding factors. Personally I do it first thing in the morning, it's just part of my routine. 

You got it! I am attempting to improve my body composition by being conscious (for the first time in my life) of how many calories I actually consume in a given day.

 

I'm not so concerned with the number on the scale compared with how I look and feel. Coupled with a weight training routine, I'm hoping these alternating calorie surpluses (on training days) and minor deficits (on rest days) will, over time, revamp how my body processes the food I feed it and start me on the path to a more aesthetic appearance versus the skinny-fat body I currently call home.

 

-Peter

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On 5/22/2018 at 2:58 PM, TakingTheWheel said:

During the work week, I'm conscious of the times I'm eating and have developed a decent regimen of food intake throughout the work day (every three hours or so) to keep my metabolism stoked. However, even with that, I'm still crazy hungry between feedings. What gives?

 

What do your meals traditionally look like? Also, when you say as accurately as possible, are you using a food scale (best case) or some other method other than eyeballing? How is your fibre intake? 

 

On 5/22/2018 at 2:58 PM, TakingTheWheel said:

What's a guy to do? Is it OK to just let yourself feel hungry and then eat at one's regularly scheduled time? Are these hunger pangs just part of the beginning lifter's adaptation phase? Or is my body really starved? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

 

It is okay to feel hungry. Some people (not necessarily YOU, but in general) mistake "hunger signals" for other things (boredom, need for water, eating too fast, etc...). So if you are aren't seeing a change on the scale, then you are most likely where you need to be calorie wise, in spite of your feeling of hunger. 

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45 minutes ago, Sylvaa said:

 

What do your meals traditionally look like? Also, when you say as accurately as possible, are you using a food scale (best case) or some other method other than eyeballing? How is your fibre intake? 

 

 

It is okay to feel hungry. Some people (not necessarily YOU, but in general) mistake "hunger signals" for other things (boredom, need for water, eating too fast, etc...). So if you are aren't seeing a change on the scale, then you are most likely where you need to be calorie wise, in spite of your feeling of hunger. 

Hey Sylvaa. Thanks for your reply!

 

First of all, when what I eat during the week is pre-packaged (yogurt, for example) or a brand name product, that's my unit of measure right there. Homemade foods I list by individual component. For example, in the MyFitnessPal app, my lunch turkey wraps are input sort of like this: 1 Damascus Foods whole wheat roll up, 2 slices Black Bear turkey breast, I slice Shop Rite domestic Swiss cheese, etc. Everything else I portion out according to the Nutrition Facts on the product label.

 

I'm sure my methods aren't 100% accurate, but at this early stage in my diet/training, starting this journey being mostly right is OK by me. It's all about adaptation, and I will refine my process and get more precise as time goes on when I'm further down the road. Being as conscious and aware as I currently am is a BIG step forward for me.

 

To that end, I think I just need to swap out a few higher calorie foods, which I can't eat as much of (and which leave me feeling hungrier sooner due to lack of volume), for more fruits and veggies which are nutrient dense but calorie light.

 

I'm also going to up my water intake a bit. I drink anywhere from 50 to 100 oz of water a day, depending on my activity level, but I don't think that's quite enough in light of the lifestyle changes I've recently made. I'll see if these types of changes alleviate some of my hunger issues


Not that I ate whatever I felt like to the point of excess, but I'm transitioning from many years of just eating and being "thin." Being in a low level state of hunger on calorie deficit days (in the hopes of burning some fat) is an entirely new concept for me. This article explains it in ways I never considered before: If Everyone Knew This No One Would Be Fat

 

-Peter

 

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While I wouldn't say your workouts are on quite the same level, when my mom was a swimmer (lifeguard, personal trainer, competitive swimmer, and swim instructor all at once), she was eating about 3,000 calories a day just to keep from falling over- technically she should have been eating 4,000 calories but just couldn't make the time for so much food. One thing that she taught me is that if you're trying to gain muscle, a calorie deficit is a huge mistake. If you were just trying to burn fat, sure, but your body CAN'T get any bigger unless there are calories to use to build up your muscle. Usually you only need a deficit with gaining if you're A) working to be a body builder and you need to cut or B ) you're extremely overweight and the weight loss could be life saving. Since I'll guess neither is the case, you need to be eating more than you burn to gain muscle, especially since just having muscles burns more calories at rest. So as you gain muscle, your resting metabolism is going to raise and you'll need to eat more than you used to. Mine and my mom's go-to meal if we're having trouble eating enough is rice and beans with baked or grilled chicken and sliced banana. It's filling, full of protein, and gives you plenty of good energy to workout and for your body to repair itself.

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If you are concerned about how you look I would recommended checking yourself for "pelvic tilt". It's a condition that many people suffer from nowadays as a result of sitting too long. Humans weren't made to sit for more than four hours- it does things to you. A quick way to check for this is to go look in the mirror shirtless and turn to the side,  when you look at your pants is the back hem of your pants an inch or more higher than the front? More importantly if you squeeze your glutes (the muscles in your butt) does your whole posture suddenly change (you'll be much straighter)? Correctly a pelvic tilt can make you look like you lost ten pounds without having lost any actual weight. Plus it's a muscle imbalance that puts a lot of strain on your lower back so you should feel better too.

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11 hours ago, NikolaiEL said:

While I wouldn't say your workouts are on quite the same level, when my mom was a swimmer (lifeguard, personal trainer, competitive swimmer, and swim instructor all at once), she was eating about 3,000 calories a day just to keep from falling over- technically she should have been eating 4,000 calories but just couldn't make the time for so much food. One thing that she taught me is that if you're trying to gain muscle, a calorie deficit is a huge mistake. If you were just trying to burn fat, sure, but your body CAN'T get any bigger unless there are calories to use to build up your muscle. Usually you only need a deficit with gaining if you're A) working to be a body builder and you need to cut or B ) you're extremely overweight and the weight loss could be life saving. Since I'll guess neither is the case, you need to be eating more than you burn to gain muscle, especially since just having muscles burns more calories at rest. So as you gain muscle, your resting metabolism is going to raise and you'll need to eat more than you used to. Mine and my mom's go-to meal if we're having trouble eating enough is rice and beans with baked or grilled chicken and sliced banana. It's filling, full of protein, and gives you plenty of good energy to workout and for your body to repair itself.

Hey NikolaiEL! Thanks for the advice! I will have to try that "calorie-bomb" meal. Sounds tasty!

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1 hour ago, Xenias said:

If you are concerned about how you look I would recommended checking yourself for "pelvic tilt". It's a condition that many people suffer from nowadays as a result of sitting too long. Humans weren't made to sit for more than four hours- it does things to you. A quick way to check for this is to go look in the mirror shirtless and turn to the side,  when you look at your pants is the back hem of your pants an inch or more higher than the front? More importantly if you squeeze your glutes (the muscles in your butt) does your whole posture suddenly change (you'll be much straighter)? Correctly a pelvic tilt can make you look like you lost ten pounds without having lost any actual weight. Plus it's a muscle imbalance that puts a lot of strain on your lower back so you should feel better too.

My suffering from "pelvic tilt" is a very real possibility for me. Darn desk-bound office job! I have dealt with bouts of lower back pain in the past. I will be mindful of my "pelvic tilt" going forward.

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Just noticed that I opened a topic very similar to yours. I know what you are going through!! I am thinking of putting a lock on my fridge and giving the key to a neighbor to hand it out to me 3 times a day.

I haven't found a solution yet but I noticed that upping my protein intake made it a liiiittle bit easier to stay full. I even started eating meat for that purpose (used to be a pescetarian since I was 6, but I must admit, chicken is very very tasty!!). Cottage cheese or Skyr (does that exist in the US?) also helps, since it has a lot of protein but very few calories. Very tasty combined with berries. But still..... stomach starts growling much quicker than I am used to.

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3 minutes ago, arpeggione said:

Just noticed that I opened a topic very similar to yours. I know what you are going through!! I am thinking of putting a lock on my fridge and giving the key to a neighbor to hand it out to me 3 times a day.

I haven't found a solution yet but I noticed that upping my protein intake made it a liiiittle bit easier to stay full. I even started eating meat for that purpose (used to be a pescetarian since I was 6, but I must admit, chicken is very very tasty!!). Cottage cheese or Skyr (does that exist in the US?) also helps, since it has a lot of protein but very few calories. Very tasty combined with berries. But still..... stomach starts growling much quicker than I am used to.

Hey arpeggione, welcome! Yes, I too have not found a 100% foolproof solution to this issue yet. However, like you, I've discovered that making sure I hit my protein macros daily helps a lot. So does filling up on fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water. I'm trying a clean/lean bulk right now, so operating in a slight calorie surplus has also helped ease my hunger a bit. But, my stomach still tends to start growling much earlier than it used to...even though I'm eating an appropriate amount of calories daily. So far it's been a little bit of trial and error for me. Some days are more successful than others. Stick with it, arpeggione, and good luck on your journey!

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Adding more to this post because...the struggle is real, and the saga continues...

 

This week marked the one month anniversary of consistently working out 3x/week at my gym. Let me just go ahead and pat myself on the back. I did it! And I want to continue moving forward. That said, I flip-flopped early on with how I wanted to handle my diet. One of my hurdles was just getting my butt in the gym, but once I did, I had to figure out how I wanted to proceed, nutritionally-speaking, so that all of my weight lifting efforts were supported outside of the gym.

 

Early on, I tracked my calories simply to see what my "old" diet looked like. Turns out I hovered between 2,300 and 2,500 calories a day despite my sedentary office job. However, based on the TDEE Calculator, my maintenance caloric needs were closer to 1,800. Knowing that in order to build muscle, I had to eat a surplus of calories, I initially tried a body recomp diet. Hey, I was scared to bulk - what can I say? I even made a thread here regarding that decision. Well, I lasted about a week eating a calorie surplus on workout days and a slight deficit on rest days. I'm sure there was some sort of adjustment period I needed to power through first, but I felt mentally foggy and weak after a few days eating like this. I didn't like it, nor did I feel like myself.

 

So, after reading more threads here and researching various web sites, I decided that in order to effect the most positive change to my physical appearance - in support of my time spent in the gym - I actually wanted to be operating on a lean/clean bulk. So, that's where I am today. About two weeks into my clean bulk, my calorie needs look like this:

 

Maintenance calories (based on age, height, weight, and general - sedentary - activity aside from workouts): 1,872

Calories burned while working out (weight training only - I've yet to add in much, if any cardio...yet): 300

 

If I replace those 300 calories on workout days, my new total is: 2,172

And, if I increase those calories by a 10% surplus, the amount of calories I should consume daily on a lean/clean bulk is: 2,389 

 

Great!

 

In general, this is working for me. On average, I feel much better eating this amount of calories. No more brain fog and minimal growling stomach/hunger. However, there are still days when, despite eating meals composed of quality foods (vegetables, grains, chicken-beef-fish, etc.) I still feel (ravenously, at times) hungry. I try to combat this by snacking on something with a modest amount of calories and a decent amount of protein. But, it doesn't always work. On days like this, should I eat when I feel hungry (within reason) so I stay mostly on target with my lean/clean bulk calorie limit? See, here's what I don't understand...

 

Don't professional bodybuilders (of which I am not, nor do I aspire to be) consume crazy amounts of calories - like upwards of 3,000+ per day? How do they manage that? Are their bodies so highly developed that their caloric needs truly are that great? Or, are they just "dirty" bulking?

 

Perhaps my mental understanding of food/calories is severely skewed and this relationship is still in flux. I mean, I know portion sizes are out of control in most restaurants. And people tend to overeat without realizing it. A recent trip to Buffalo Wild Wings was a sobering experience when I realized that most of the entrees (even the salads) were well over 1,000 calories! By comparison, my portion sizes cooking at home are small to moderate, out of necessity based on how many calories I want to devote to any given meal. But this all feels kind of fundamentally wrong. For example, I see the modest amount of food on my plate and think, "How can this meal be 500 calories!?" LOL! Maybe I'm doing OK on 2,389 calories a day and my brain is lying to me when it says my body is still hungry? Please help.

 

Any advice, encouragement, words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.

 

-Peter

 

 

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The fact that you're doing things consistently at all is awesome - most folks can't even hack that much. Sparkling water with a bit of lemon can help with the hunger/cravings, as can a tbsp of straight up cocoa powder in a cup of hot water (this is intense, start with 1/2tbsp first).

 

If you're still hungry, eat more vegetables. Steamed/raw green veg are practically 'zero calorie' options, because of the amount of fiber they offer. Swap out your grain for legumes for a while (if your digestive system is cool with them), they'll keep you full longer, and they're less kcal/portion. You can also experiment with different meal timings (eg. 4-6 meals a day, vs 2 meals a day) - for some people eating more often helps, for others they feel better eating only one or two LARGE meals a day. Play around until you figure out where your sweet spot is!

 

Yes, people eat too much. Yes, it's super challenging to curb your appetite, especially when training regularly. Bodybuilders DO often have 3,000+kcal/day, but they're also often over 220lbs at around 15-18%BF - in simple terms, bigger people get to eat more. It sucks, but it's true. EG. this dude's TDEE is probably at least 3,500kcal/day, so even if he's aiming to lose 1lb/week, that's still 3,000kcal/day (SO JEALOUS!) https://bretcontreras.com/5-tips-for-leaning-out/ 

 

Think of it this way: it could always be worse. I need to hit 150g of protein/day on 1,300kcal in order to consistently lose fat without losing substantial muscle, soooo... ;) 

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20 hours ago, Defining said:

The fact that you're doing things consistently at all is awesome - most folks can't even hack that much. Sparkling water with a bit of lemon can help with the hunger/cravings, as can a tbsp of straight up cocoa powder in a cup of hot water (this is intense, start with 1/2tbsp first).

 

If you're still hungry, eat more vegetables. Steamed/raw green veg are practically 'zero calorie' options, because of the amount of fiber they offer. Swap out your grain for legumes for a while (if your digestive system is cool with them), they'll keep you full longer, and they're less kcal/portion. You can also experiment with different meal timings (eg. 4-6 meals a day, vs 2 meals a day) - for some people eating more often helps, for others they feel better eating only one or two LARGE meals a day. Play around until you figure out where your sweet spot is!

 

Yes, people eat too much. Yes, it's super challenging to curb your appetite, especially when training regularly. Bodybuilders DO often have 3,000+kcal/day, but they're also often over 220lbs at around 15-18%BF - in simple terms, bigger people get to eat more. It sucks, but it's true. EG. this dude's TDEE is probably at least 3,500kcal/day, so even if he's aiming to lose 1lb/week, that's still 3,000kcal/day (SO JEALOUS!) https://bretcontreras.com/5-tips-for-leaning-out/ 

 

Think of it this way: it could always be worse. I need to hit 150g of protein/day on 1,300kcal in order to consistently lose fat without losing substantial muscle, soooo... ;) 

Thanks a lot, Defining! Once again, your insights are absolutely indispensable.

 

So, based on your personal research and experience, do my calorie counts seem within the realm of "correct" for my goals (clean/lean bulk)? I guess I'm just looking for some external confirmation that I'm on a good path, which will help me stay the course. You know what I mean? This whole process of getting fit is a "slow and steady wins the race" kind of thing. Any sort of motivation is incredibly welcome.

 

Best of luck on your own journey!

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You're around 145-150lbs, if I recall correctly? Yeah, ~2,300-2,500kcal sounds right in line for a slight surplus calorie intake on workout days. Probably closer to 1,900-2,000kcal on rest days. It kind of sounds like you want someone to suggest that you should be eating more? You should eat however you like, just keep in mind that if you consume more energy than your body needs for it's metabolism and putting on new muscle tissue, it'll store the rest as fat. You may be OK with gaining some fat for 'faster' results, but no-one can make that call for you but yourself.

 

If you're worried about being hungry for a few hours, don't - temporary hunger like that is not an emergency, barring specific hormonal/medical conditions that suggest otherwise. It's ok to be hungry for a little while. Some info on the hormones that affect hunger signals: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/leptin-ghrelin-weight-loss  If you're trying to gain muscle, your body is going to ask for MOAR - that doesn't mean that you're doing yourself a damage by only giving it 'more'. You can always add a whey protein shake before workouts for an extra calorie boost if you're super uncomfortable - it's unlikely to sideline your progress because the macros are ideal for muscle, not fat.

 

Frankly, I think you need to just keep doing exactly what you're doing for another 4 weeks before reassessing. There's no way to track progress if you change things up every fortnight. Keep girth and weight measurements at the same time on the same day every week, keep a training and food journal, and then go from there. If after a month of your current routine you're not seeing visual or girth changes that would indicate you're hitting your goals, THEN take a look at your own stats and figure out where it might need tweaking. There is no better data than YOUR own personal data.

 

Are you sleeping 8hrs+ a night? If not, that's another common cause for crazy hunger signals. Stay the course dude, as you said: slow and steady. Channel your inner toirtoise. ;) 

 

tortoise-meme-5.jpg

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So I’ve been doing 531 for a month, with light conditioning, and I’m finding I’m still losing weight on 3000 cals a day. My body comp/bf is staying much the same too. I was skinny fat but would say I’m athletic now - some low ab vascularity but no 6 pack so the scales 11% seems a bit low, though I have visible front and back abs. 

 

Should I just keep upping? My thyroid is deffo not an issue as I have hashimotos so have regular blood tests and know it’s not too fast

 

P.s. 5’11” at 141 lbs, 200 lbs squat 250 lbs deadlift 

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On 9/19/2019 at 3:13 PM, Ian Wood said:

So I’ve been doing 531 for a month, with light conditioning, and I’m finding I’m still losing weight on 3000 cals a day. 

If you're losing weight and that's not your goal, eat more. If you're struggling to get in enough calories, make sure you're getting at least 120-140g of protein and 5 veg/fruit a day, then enjoy as much carbs & fat as you can manage. Ideas could include: milk, peanut butter, chicken (WITH SKIN!), pasta, rice, etc. Have fun!

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On 9/21/2019 at 7:17 PM, Defining said:

If you're losing weight and that's not your goal, eat more. If you're struggling to get in enough calories, make sure you're getting at least 120-140g of protein and 5 veg/fruit a day, then enjoy as much carbs & fat as you can manage. Ideas could include: milk, peanut butter, chicken (WITH SKIN!), pasta, rice, etc. Have fun!

 

Thanks Defining, I’ll carry on upping my cals each week and see what happens. Having been overweight I never thought I’d be struggling to get the weight back on, this time as muscle. 

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This phase ended for me maybe a week ago and my eating has mostly stabilized (but for now looooong) so I COMPLETELY RELATE. I don't think I've ever been so hungry while still eating what I consider a normal amount of food. I don't track my calories or macros in any kind of detail but I know I was eating a lot more volume because HUNGRY.

 

I expect this will happen again when I actually start nailing down and implementing my home bodyweight routine in addition to my "gym 1-2x/wk" thing.

 

Female, 25yo, 173 cm, 54 kg

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