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    8 Ways To Feel Full While Cutting Calories

    8 Ways To Feel Full While Cutting Calories

    From Michael Mastrucci (@themacrodiabetic)


    Two hormones have a major influence on energy balance: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin mediates long-term energy regulation and is responsible for decreasing hunger. Ghrelin is the yin to leptin’s yang, a fast-acting hormone that increases hunger.


    When you’re cutting, putting your body in an intentional caloric deficit, the body’s subconscious response is to increase ghrelin which leads to cravings and hunger pangs. This is true even in short cutting periods. And if you give in to these cravings, your cutting will have been for nothing! Here are eight ways to counteract the body’s hunger response:



    ICON Meals - Caffeine

    1. Caffeine

    Black coffee’s caffeine content can blunt hunger. However, it’s not a panacea and I wouldn’t recommend downing a pot later in the day.


    ICON Meals - Distractions

    2. Distractions

    There’s nothing like watching your favorite show or a movie during dinner to help you chill out after a long day, and mild hunger can fade when our minds are distracted with entertainment. Take care to fully enjoy your food — chew thoroughly, swallow, set your fork down, take a sip of water. It’s not a race.


    ICON Meals - Fasting


    3. Fasting

    Some people have no trouble pushing their meals until later in the day, and fasting can be effective for fat loss — but it is definitely not REQUIRED. Before jumping on the fasting bandwagon pay close attention to how it affects your energy levels. There’s no reason to force your body to take on additional stress when already in a deficit.


    ICON Meals Flavors


    4. Flavor

    If you’re finding your food a little bland, adding spices and other flavors can make it more palatable without adding excessive amounts of sodium or sugar — ICON Flavor Seasonings are a great example. Too much salt and sugar can numb taste receptors over time, leave you feeling hungry, and make lightly-seasoned foods less satisfying.


    ICON Meals - Hydration


    5. Hydration

    Drinking water is far better than eating more calories when maintaining a deficit. Most importantly, you need water to help regulate a vast number of physiological processes and stay healthy. Drinking water before and after a meal (and in between bites) helps to promote fullness and keeps your digestive system working properly.


    ICON Meals Grilled Chicken Lean Box


    5. Nutrients

    Whole foods are your best bet for overall health. 200 calories of potato chips are mostly empty of valuable nutrition —instead, opt for veggies or micronutrient-dense foods to get far more bang for your caloric buck. Additionally, nutrient-dense foods often provide your body with better energy levels and can be much easier on digestion.


    ICON Meals Mentality


    6. Mentality

    Going to bed hungry is a big pet peeve of mine, so I like to save the majority of my daily calories for the last meal of the day. This doesn’t agree with everyone, and that’s ok. After you’ve eaten dinner, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to starve. If you get those post-dinner cravings, drink water, stay occupied, and see how you feel in 20 minutes.


    ICON Meals Sleep


    7. Sleep

    Sleep affects hormone regulation, and lack of it will put leptin and ghrelin out of balance. To prevent cravings and dips in your energy, your body needs to get full, complete rest. This is doubly important when you’re intentionally depriving yourself of calories.


    ICON Meals Fork


    8. Utensil Size

    Psychological tricks can help us feel fuller without actually changing our food. Smaller silverware and dishes visually trick our minds into thinking our portions are larger and therefore more satisfying.

    Freedom Through Fasting

    Freedom Through Fasting

    Do you get tired of tracking every morsel of food and obsessing about when you’ll get your next meal? Being a slave to eating around the clock gets tedious and doesn’t make sense for our busy lives. Contrary to popular belief, IT IS POSSIBLE to have your dream physique without the 2-3 hour feeding schedule. 


    Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating protocol that offers a solution to these problems. You can make incredible progress while consuming all of your calories and macros within a window of time, without any phone reminders. IF is popular with people who have demanding schedules that don’t allow them to pull out a container of food every few hours.


    Benefits & Basics


    When fasting your insulin levels drop, increasing the body’s fat-burning abilities. Human Growth Hormone increases, promoting muscle gain. Metabolism goes up and appetite goes down. Fasting can also reduce overall inflammation, promote cellular repair, aid in disease prevention, and may help you live a longer life. In addition to physiological benefits, IF is easy to follow!


    Fasting Windows


    IF can be done in a number of timeframes (windows) that you can cater to your schedule.



    16 hours fasted, 8 hours feasting. The most popular window, 16:8 offers a greater amount of time to eat so you don’t have to cram large amounts of calories into a short timespan. This window is the one I implement in my own day-to-day life. I try to consume 4 large meals during the 8-hour feasting phase.


    Here’s my typical 16–8 day:


    9am:            Pre-Workout Drink

    10am–11:30am:     Gym (Resistance Training)

    12pm—8pm:        Feeding Phase

    8pm–9am:        Fasting Phase


    Post workout, I break my fast with BCAA muscle recovery supplements and immediately have a protein-packed lunch. Throughout the rest of the day I will consume three or four more meals and have an additional cardio session.


    Within the eight hour feeding phase I will consume all of the calories and macros I need. I don’t track my food, but I make sure I get the proteins, fats, and carbs my body needs. You can adjust the 8-hour feeding phase earlier or later to best fit your schedule.


    20 hours fasted, 4 hours feasting. This aggressive window forces you to eat 1 or 2 very large meals within the feeding phase, typically in the afternoon or evening.

    24 Hours

    No calories consumed during a 24-hour period, with regular calorie consumption resuming the following day. For example: on Monday you eat dinner and begin fasting at 7pm. You eat nothing until dinner on Tuesday, after 7pm. 


    This high-intensity window should only be done a couple times a week.



    Choose two non-consecutive days each week, and only consume 500 calories on each of those days. The other five days you eat regularly. Popular fasting days for this window are Sunday/Wednesday or Monday/Thursday.


    The Rules of Fasting


    For any fasting window you choose, during the fast you can consume water (sparkling is fine), black coffee, or tea. Avoid artificially sweetened beverages if at all possible.


    Breaking Your Fast


    Begin your feasting phase with a meal high in protein instead of carbs. Opt for a protein shake, omelet, or a typical chicken meal, and skip the oats and fruit.


    The benefits of IF are undeniable. Although it does take discipline to refrain from eating during the fasting window, the freedom is worth it! Decide which fasting window works best for your schedule, follow through with the protocol, and watch it do its magic.


    [Guest post by Team ICON Member Brandan Fokken. @brandanfokken]