The first and most crucial part of ONE-TWO PUNCH is BURN: eating when you are hungry. Even if you stop doing any other part of ONE-TWO PUNCH, keep adhering to the foundational principle of eating when you are hungry. Recognizing physical hunger and eating when you feel that sensation is the foundation you continually return to through this process.
Physical hunger can be difficult to detect. When your body needs food you may start to feel weak, tired or feel a lack of concentration. Your stomach may start to ache and rumble. If your hunger continues your stomach may start to really hurt and you may find it more difficult to concentrate. You may also feel lightheaded and nauseous. Some people get shaky and feel nervous, while others start to get a headache.
All of us feel hunger differently, in ways that are unique to us.8-9 Even in the same person it might feel different at different times. For example, when I get hungry in the morning, my stomach rumbles; when I feel hunger in the afternoon, it’s sometimes a painful sensation.
Think of your stomach as an incinerator. An incinerator is a machine for burning materials at high temperatures. The materials are placed in the incinerator through an open door that can be closed when it is full. In this analogy I want you to think of the material as food. When you feel hungry, it means the incinerator door is open. When you are full, the incinerator door is closed. More on fullness later.
The incinerator, your stomach, will burn anything you put into it WHEN the door is open – anything! Yes, yes, of course, different foods are going to be burned at different rates, but remember we are trying to be UNCOMPLICATED. Anything you put in an incinerator with an open door is going to be burned.
Scientifically, when you are hungry your body secretes ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to signal your need to eat.14-20 When your body produces ghrelin, you get hungry and your incinerator door opens. Anything that you put inside is going to be burned.15,17
As you eat, your stomach is stretched and the secretion of ghrelin stops. As ghrelin stops, the incinerator door begins to close – very, very slowly. REALLY slowly! It truly takes 20 to 30 minutes for your brain to register fullness as it receives signals from the filling stomach.21-23 Leptin is the fullness hormone. It regulates food intake by signaling fullness.15,17,19-20
Leptin kicks in to signal that it is time to stop eating. The more leptin produced, the fuller you feel.15,19,21,24 Leptin is like the door closing on the incinerator to tell you when it is time to stop eating.14-15,25-26
8. Lofgren I. Mindful Eating. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2015;9(3): 212-216.
9. Camilleri G, Méjean C, Bellisle F, Andreeva V, Kesse-Guyot E, Hercberg S, and Péneau S. Intuitive eating is inversely associated with body weight status in the general population-based NutriNet-Santé study. Obesity. 2016:24(5):1154–1161.
14. Rebello C, Greenway F. Reward-Induced Eating: Therapeutic Approaches to Addressing Food Cravings. Adv Ther. 2016;33(11):1853-1866.
15. Moehlecke M, Canani L, Silva L, Trindade M, Friedman R, Leitão C. Determinants of body weight regulation in humans. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2016;60(2):152-162.
16. Carson E. Pleasure overrides fullness when it comes to controlling food intake. SCAN’s Pulse. 2016; 35(4):1-2.
17. Klok M, Jakobsdottir S, Drent M. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007;8(1):21-34.
18. Hayes M, Miller C, Ulbrecht J, Mauger J, Parker-Klees L, Gutschall M, Mitchell D, Smiciklas-Wright H, Covasa M. A carbohydrate-restricted diet alters gut peptides and adiposity signals in men and women with metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2007;137(8)1944-1950.
19. Power M, Schulkin J. Anticipatory physiological regulation in feeding biology: Cephalic phase responses. Appetite. 2008;50(2-3):194-206.
20. Zanchi D, Depoorter A, Egloff L et al. The impact of gut hormones on the neural circuit of appetite and satiety: A systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017;80:457-475.
21. Suzuki K, Jayasena CN, Bloom SR. Obesity and Appetite Control. Experimental Diabetes Research. 2012;2012:824305.
22. Steen J. We found out if it really takes 20 minutes to feel full. Huffington Post Australia website.
23. Moran T. Gastrointestinal satiety signals II. Cholecystokinin. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004;286(2):183G-188.
24. Kolaczynski J. Response of leptin to short-term and prolonged overfeeding in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996;81(11):4162-4165.
25. Meinders AJ, Meinders AE. How much water do we really need to drink? Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd (Dutch). 2010;154:A1757.
26. Gropper S, Smith J, Groff J. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2005: 299-300.