New study says losing weight makes you hungry

There’s a new study that says losing weight makes you hungry. The premise is when you force your body to weigh less, it fights to “return things to normal.” In other words it wants to get things back to the way they were.

Have you ever tried to lose weight?

If you have you’re probably saying, “duh, they had to do a study on that? I could have told them that dieting makes you hungry and I’m no scientist.”


I can’t argue that weight loss isn’t a major cause of increased appetite. It’s true for physical and psychological reasons which I’ll explain, but first I want to assure you that this doesn’t have to stop your goal to weigh less.

The physical reasons for why dieting makes you hungry are simple.

It starts with what’s become normal for you. Your body likes its normal to be undisturbed. You shake things up by messing with its normal and it fights you to return to normal. Studies find there’s a correlation between dieting and a drop in leptin, the hormone that triggers satiety. Don’t worry, even with these physical obstacles to successful weight management, you can create a new normal.

To minimize your body’s fighting against your weight-related goals make small changes in how you eat. A very low calorie diet may make weight loss progress go faster, but it also increases the likelihood of increased hunger. Eventually the need to satisfy hunger becomes stronger than the desire to lose weight. It’s possible to reduce calories without going hungry or giving up your favorite foods altogether.

A better strategy is to reduce your calories by only 250 a day and increase your calorie burn by 250. This creates a 500 calorie daily deficit. You’ll lose weight but should avoid the extreme hunger pains that threaten to end or even reverse your progress.

The physical feelings of hunger when dieting can present some tough challenges, but the psychological ones can be even more difficult to overcome.

While our bodies are trying to prevent weight loss (bodies see weight loss as a threat to survival even though we know that it often saves lives) our minds are working even harder to keep us at our “normal” weight.

Major psychological forces at work against you include your eyes – “that doesn’t look like enough food for me” We are conditioned to judge our satiety by how much food we see. A full plate tells us that we’ll be full when we eat everything that’s on it. A plate with more open space than food tells us we’ll be hungry. Our stomachs may feel differently, but when it comes to how much to eat, the “eyes have it.” That means your eyes are consistently overriding your stomach’s message of satiety.

Thoughts have even more influence over how hungry you feel on a diet.

Thoughts such as, “I can never eat ________________ again if I don’t want to be fat,” make it so you can’t stop thinking about food. Even thinking about what you’re not going to eat, the reality is you’re mind is always on food. No wonder dieting makes you hungry.

Taking your mind off food when losing weight takes practice. It requires aversion techniques. Telling yourself you won’t think about food doesn’t work. You need to have something to replace the food thoughts. Hobbies, meditation, intense exercise, anything you can get passionate about like a cause or volunteering are highly effective ways of taking your mind off food.

This new study tells us nothing new and it shouldn’t get in the way of your weight-related goal.

Instead of slapping your forehead and saying, “I knew it. What’s the point of trying to lose weight?” let the new study roll of your “proverbial back” and say, “millions of people have lost weight and kept it off and I’m going to be one of those people, no matter what the study says.”



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.