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Hunger rearing its ugly head

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I'm about three weeks past my Whole30. I did formal reintroductions (although I chose not to reintroduce gluten) and the only thing I discovered a mild sensitivity to was cheese (gas, bloating). However, I have continued to eat mostly Whole30-style with the following exceptions:


- Most mornings I add organic, pastured heavy cream to my coffee

- When dining out I don't worry about added sugars or non-compliant cooking fats

- Once a week or so I have a glass or two of wine with dinner

- If I have an especially intense training day or if I'm racing (I'm a competitive runner), I take an energy gel that contains sugar and corn-derived maltodextrin.


I still feel very good, but in the past week or so I have been getting extremely hungry again between meals and am having trouble making it 4-5 hours. I'm wondering if this is because of the few items I have added back in to my diet. But, at the same time, I am also really ramping up my training volume and intensity. My performance has been great and I have had a couple of new PRs in just the past few weeks. I am actually running better than ever. But this hunger is really bothering me - it is definitely the weak and shaky "hangry" type of hunger that I routinely experienced before my Whole30 and that I thought I had said goodbye to forever!


I don't want to get back in the habit of snacking all day again! Do I just need to eat more? Or do I need to cut out those few non-compliant things I've added back? I am still eating to template and including post workout snacks.

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What you have added back in should be okay in your context. My first assumption is that you have underestimated the demands of your intense training and need to eat more. You might try increasing the size of post-workout meals first and if you are still hungry adding a fourth meal. 


I don't train as intensely lately as I have in the past, but I sometimes need a fourth meal. Last night after full meals at 8, 12, and 5 and a can of tuna as a post-workout snack, I added a can of tuna and a baked sweet potato as a last meal of the day. 

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My first assumption is that you have underestimated the demands of your intense training and need to eat more. 




First, you need more fuel for your training volume.


Second, you need better quality fuel for your training volume. Replace the gels with real food carbs and I expect it would help a ton Of course, this depends on how well you can tolerate real food during training. You might be better off loading up with real food carbs outside of the race context and not trying to fuel and run simultaneously.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I want to share something that happened to me yesterday.


But first, let me say that since I completed my Whole30 I have continued to increase training volume and intensity without increasing my intake and I have lost about 3-4 more pounds and am now in the low 80s. I did not get my period last month. I have struggled with the feeling of hunger and regarded it as a personal failure. Old disordered thinking and behavior patterns - counting calories, tracking macros - have returned.


Well, yesterday I went out to a Mexican restaurant with my boyfriend. I agonized over what I could and couldn't have. I was very hungry - I'd run almost 30 miles in the previous two days. I finally chose what seemed like a nearly compliant meal, but after I ate it (sautéed shrimp and fajita vegetables) I was not satisfied. Anyway, long story short, I ended up binging last night when I got home. I ate a lot of really unhealthy food and I ate it in a terrible emotional state, full of self-loathing and feelings of loss of control. Afterwards, I tried to purge, but it has now been so long since I last induced vomiting that I found it very painful and difficult and I did not complete the action. So I went to bed exhausted, bloated, uncomfortable, and feeling like all the progress I have made with my eating disorder over the past couple months was totally wasted.


I woke up this morning feeling slightly better - still pretty full and no desire to eat breakfast, but at least in a more self-forgiving frame of mind. Then I went out for a run - a pretty tough workout, 8 miles total with 4 of them at sub-7:45 pace. And a very interesting thing happened. I ran extremely well! I set out fully anticipating not being able to meet my goal paces due to the previous night's indulgences. But I NAILED them, felt great, and finished strong. And I guess I know why - even though the food choices I made were poor, I think they were due to my body telling me that it sick and tired of operating in deficit. I gave myself an extra dose of fuel - calories - and my body rewarded me with an excellent performance.


So the lesson I am taking away from the whole experience is that I need to EAT MORE. But - I can't eat those foods that I chose last night (ice cream, sugar cereal) and I can't eat in that harmful emotional state. I need to give my body that extra fuel, those extra calories, that it is signaling to me that it needs. But it needs to be the right kind of fuel - Whole30 compliant foods - and it needs to be eaten with a mentality of self-love and nourishment.

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