Being the best fat burner doesn't mean maintaining willpower of steel or depriving yourself. With these seven strategies, you have everything you need for fast, lasting fat loss.
Manufacturers have conditioned us to believe that even the slightest degree of hunger means we should run to eat something. As a result, we habitually reach for something at the slightest whim—usually a high Sugar Impact snack.
It isn’t just big food corporations that are promoting that graze-all-day mentality. Some people in the nutrition and fitness world still promote this myth that we should be grazing from the moment we wake up till when we doze off.
Trust me, you shouldn't be. If you eat a meal and feel the need to snack a few hours later, I encourage you to look carefully at what you’re eating. When you’re eating by the Plate, you should be able to go 4–6 hours without eating.
And yes, that includes snacking. I’ve found that snacking sabotages fat loss and fast metabolism. Snacking gives you permission to eat more than you need, and yet paradoxically, makes people hungrier.
Here’s why. Every time you eat, you raise your insulin levels. When you’re constantly snacking throughout the day, insulin levels stay elevated and your fat-burning doors are locked. Taking a food break between meals—along with bringing in 10–12 hours of overnight fasting—encourages your body to reach into those fat stores to burn what you’ve already got.
By the way, a little bit of hunger isn’t the terrible thing that some people imagine. As anyone who has done intermittent fasting knows, hunger is a wave that comes and goes. When you lean into that feeling and allow it to pass—questioning whether you are really hungry or whether that feeling is boredom or stress—you develop enormous strength and resilience.
You Don’t Ever Need to Be Hungry on the Virgin Diet
I designed the Virgin Diet to crush cravings and hunger. Every plate should contain:
- Lean, clean protein
- High-fiber, non-starchy veggies
- Good fats
- Slow, low carbs
Eating by the Plate balances blood sugar and lowers insulin, so the body is better able to access the energy from your fat cells. That trifecta in every Plate—healthy fats, protein, and fiber—is the magic formula for fast, lasting fat loss. When you eat by the Plate, you can easily go 4–6 hours without eating. You rarely feel the need to snack. For even the best of us, however, hunger can sneak up and derail our best efforts. These 7 strategies can put the brakes on feeling hungry so you can create fast, lasting fat loss.
- Upgrade your smoothies. When people tell me they’re hungry an hour or so after having a shake, I always ask what they’re putting in those shakes. Usually, I encourage them to bump up the fiber and healthy fats, which give shakes that hunger-crushing power:
- Increase fiber from flaxseeds, chia seeds, and Extra Fiber. *
- Healthy fats including avocado, coconut, cacao nibs, and unsweetened almond butter add some major wow flavor to your shakes and keep you full longer.
- Follow the golden rules of meal timing. What you eat matters, but so does when you eat. Learn more about how timing determines fast, lasting fat loss.) Here’s how meal timing should look:
- Break your morning fast with a smoothie. (Find out how to make the perfect one here.) People who have breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day. When you have that shake depends on whether you’re fasting. If you can, push that shake till 9 or 10 a.m. That does not mean skipping breakfast!
- Eat from the Plate every 4–6 hours.
- Stop eating about 3 hours before bedtime. Have a glass of water before bed if you need to curb hunger.
- Keep a food journal. Tracking what you eat keeps you honest and helps troubleshoot any glitches that come up along the way. Let’s say you’re famished at bedtime. Go back and look at what you had for dinner. Did you eat enough? Did you stick to the Plate guidelines? One nice “bonus” about tracking: In one study, people who wrote down what they ate lost twice the weight as those who didn’t! (1)
- Step up your sleep and stress management. When you’re not sleeping well, the tiniest things can throw you off the following day. Stress, in turn, crashes your sleep. Studies show that not getting enough sleep lowers leptin, the hormone that tells your brain to stop eating. Poor sleep also cranks up your hunger hormone, ghrelin. The results? You’re hungrier (not for wild-caught salmon and Brussels sprouts, either!) and more likely to store body fat. (2)
- Drink more. I’m talking water here, not pinot noir! Focusing on hydration can help you eat less at meals and support fat loss. Conversely, being dehydrated can have the opposite effect, making you hungrier. (3) Clean, filtered water is your best bet to improve hydration.
- Find out how much water you should be drinking here.
- I also love green tea, hot or iced. The epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea supports appetite control. (4)
- Increase your fiber intake. You should be getting 50 grams of fiber per day. Most of us don’t get anywhere near that amount. Among its benefits, dietary fiber curbs hunger and cravings, supports gut health, and helps you regularly eliminate (aka gives you poops to be proud of). (5) By the way, please don’t go from 5 grams of fiber to 50 overnight! Instead, slowly increase your fiber, so your body can adjust to it. Every other day, add another 5 grams of fiber from food or Extra Fiber until you reach 50 grams. * As you do so, follow my water schedule, because more fiber demands more water.
- Home in on your feelings. When you pay very close attention to what you’re feeling, you may discover that hunger might not actually be hunger. If you ate a balanced dinner and followed your meal plan throughout the day, you’re probably not hungry. You could be bored, stressed out, or thirsty. Could a phone call or a hot bath alleviate the feeling that you’re trying to soothe with that half-eaten pint of butter pecan? Along with your food, track your feelings. If you’re doing your meals correctly and still feel hungry, have a glass of water and wait 30 minutes.
The great news is that when you eat the Virgin Diet way, you reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar levels, and heal your gut. Those are powerful strategies to seriously eliminate hunger and cravings! In this episode of Ask the Health Expert, I’ll share more strategies to crush hunger so you can maintain fast, lasting fat loss.
Great sleep for fat loss, immune health + so much more doesn’t just happen. You need to prepare for it. My Best Rest Sleep Cheat Sheet gives you my top tips to get consistently stellar sleep… every single night. Get yours FREE here.
The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Kaiser Permanente. (2008, July 8). Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily.
Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62.
Thornton SN. Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss. Front Nutr. 2016 Jun 10;3:18.
Fernandes RC, Araújo VA, Giglio BM, Marini ACB, Mota JF, Teixeira KS, Monteiro PA, Lira FS, Pimentel GD. Acute Epigallocatechin 3 Gallate (EGCG) Supplementation Delays Gastric Emptying in Healthy Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study. Nutrients. 2018 Aug 20;10(8):1122.
Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 21;12(10):3209. doi: 10.3390/nu12103209. PMID: 33096647; PMCID: PMC7589116.