Tricks to curb hunger pains, eat healthy

When losing weight, you will lose some muscle, which in turn means you need less fuel.

But since your diet already has you cutting calories, the trick is to up the volume of food while lowering the calorie count. That means more produce, lean protein and whole grains that signal feelings of fullness. The best ratio is half a plate of produce with a quarter protein and a quarter starch or carbohydrate.

Then there's the seemingly immobile metabolism. Less fuel can leave you sluggish. Calorie restriction signals the body to hold calories and fat for survival. Solution? Make protein work for you. Foods that contain the amino acid leucine can help. Studies show dairy products rich in whey protein contain leucine. Aim for three servings a day.

When it comes to movement, there's even better news. Small changes in your fitness routine can enhance weight loss. If you're on the treadmill for a half hour for example, break it up.

Try 10 minutes of hill climbing. Then pump some iron. Go back and run 10 minutes, then back to weight. Interval your cardio with strength to boost fitness and slim down.

And what do you do when you're ravenous? When weight plummets, hunger hormones kick in, while other hormones that usually signal fullness are diminished. Brain chemicals, digestive tract, even fat cells send a message for more food. Usually sweets and fats.

Sometimes fat is your friend. In this case, it might just be the one component that can calm your system down. Eat at least 20 percent of your daily calories from heart-healthy fats. Going for small portions of nuts, olives, avocado, and hummus might just call off the hunger squad in your body.

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