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I’m Not Hungry

by Meghann on December 3, 2013

Here’s something I never thought I would say: I’m not hungry.

Weird.

I’ve always been a good eater. I have a bit of a reputation with my friends, family, and co-workers for being a bottomless pit. I eat three meals, two snacks, and a dessert like clockwork everyday. And when I skip a snack or one of my meals is pushed back? You better watch out – you’re guaranteed to have a hangry Meghann on your hands.

During Ironman training it got worse. I was HUNGRY. all. the. time. I was eating anything and everything, and would still be hungry again five minutes later. It was insane the amount of food I ate. The never-ending hunger eventually grew on me and I just got used to eating all the time.

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After I crossed the finish line at Ironman Florida, I cut way back on training. I went from working out sixteen hours a week, to three. I was so used to always being hungry – and eating as much as I wanted – that I thought going back to my semi-regular eating habits would be tough. If I was no longer training for an Ironman, would I still feel the need to eat like I was training for one? I’d heard stories of other Ironmen who couldn’t break the habit and I was pretty much prepared to be in the same boat (especially considering my love for food).

I decided a long time ago that I would listen to my body when it comes to food. I hate feeling hungry or deprived, so ignoring that hungry feeling was never an option. It’s more about snacking smart and trusting my body knows what it needs.

For the first couple of weeks after the Ironman, my hunger levels stayed pretty high. Eventually that began to change. I was still piling my plate high with food, just as I would during training, but I realized I didn’t feel the need to finish the plates as I had before. So my portions went down and eventually my need for additional snacks subsided as well. I wasn’t constantly thinking about my next meal or the stash of emergency snacks in my desk.

Our bodies are fascinating machines. They know exactly what they need to subside and they’re pretty good at letting us know it as long as we listen. During Ironman training my body went into overdrive. It needed more fuel, so I listened. Granted, I didn’t go overboard – I may have gone back for an another serving of chili, but I didn’t eat the whole tray of cornbread – there’s still something to be said for healthy moderation. When I stopped training my body needed time to adjust, but eventually it realized it didn’t need the extra fuel anymore. My hunger dropped back and second servings didn’t seem desirable anymore.

So there you have it. I’m back to normal. Well… my version of normal.

Do you see differences in your hunger while training and not training?

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Val @ Balancing Val December 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I notice the levels change when I increase and decrease exercise.

I also notice during different weeks of the month. The first week after my cycle I am rarely hungry since that is the time hormones are lowest and the body isn’t doing any work to prepare itself for that time.

When it is, then I feel like a bottomless pit!

No matter what, the best thing we can all do is listen <3
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2 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun December 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I have noticed that when I am training harder I too am a bottomless pit! It doesn’t matter what I eat I am always hungry. I have to be really careful not to give in to lots and lots of junk food during this time! I still eat a good amount now when my training is down due to injury, but I am much more conscious of it!
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3 Cecilia @MommiesRun December 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I’ve been training for my first marathon which is this Saturday. I’ve definitely noticed a huge increase in my appetite. I’ll report back to let you know if my appetite decreases after the race!
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4 Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans December 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

It always amazes me how much our bodies ‘know’! Great you are able to tune in 😉
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5 Sienna Roberts December 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm

If I’m doing squats I notice my appetite goes through the roof, but if I’m doing cardio then I don’t have an appetite after exercising :S Weird huh.
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6 Sam December 4, 2013 at 5:10 am

THAT is the one thing I have disliked about losing weight and upping workouts. I have had a hard time trying to workout 5-6 days a week and not be ravenous! I am trying to lose not gain!

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7 Kaitlyn December 4, 2013 at 5:59 am

I found it very interesting that when I trained for my first half marathon, I definitely had that bottom-less pit feeling, especially on the days surrounding my long runs (which makes sense, since I’d never run longer than 6 miles before beginning my training). But, when I trained for my second half marathon about 5 months later, I wasn’t nearly as hungry – my hunger stayed about normal. I’m guessing this may be because my body was used to those longer distances/that training intensity already? Our bodies really are so, so smart!

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8 Kathy December 4, 2013 at 7:08 am

I see differences with my hunger during the holidays vs. the summer….hmmm, extra sugar and goodies around maybe? 😉

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9 Elizabeth @ Positive Change December 4, 2013 at 7:54 am

I can totally relate to this post! I find myself one extra meal hungry when I am training for a marathon. But once I cut back on those miles after the race my “regular” eating habits resurface!
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10 egb December 4, 2013 at 8:06 am

I’m with you on this one. I keep snacks in my desk and am an absolute bear when hungry, but it definitely correlates with my activity level. During my first marathon cycle, my roommate actually kept granola bars in her purse to throw at me when I got crazy-pants hungry. I’ve learn to manage it much better! I agree, listening to your body is the best thing. When I am in heavy training, my body usually wants real food (not crap).
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11 Lesley December 4, 2013 at 8:23 am

I’m also a bottomless pit, and I had to figure out how to increase my food intake during my first training round. It wasn’t easy, but I think I’ve got it. The number 1 thing I do after I hit 6 miles and beyond, is eat right away when I get home. I discovered by accident how great a ham and cheese Hot Pocket can taste after all that running.
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12 Lys December 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

Congrats on your Ironman but I’m so glad to have you back to posting more often! I’ve missed your blog and have been following your blog daily since 2008 when I was in college. I can’t even recall how I stumbled across you or the other healthy living blogs I’m now obsessed with but you were one of the originals and were surely missed during Ironman training!
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13 Steven Le December 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

Understand exactly how you feel with this one. My body will change depending on the intensity and frequency of workouts which is turn determine how much Food I need to eat. But sometimes it just goes on a complete random! I went from eating 5-6 meals a day and being constantly hungry to only needing about 3-4 meals. – I didn’t increase the portion sizes either!
I’ve changed from cardio to weight exercises. I expected to need to eat even more! Weird one this is…

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14 BrooklynBeet December 4, 2013 at 10:02 am

I am often really hungry after an intense workout and STILL really hungry when I wake up the next day…I think listening to your body is the best approach to this. I think eventually we all adjust to whatever our bodies do physically, it just takes time.
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15 RunEatRepeat December 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

Sounds like some smart intuitive eating!
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16 Jen December 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

I weaned my son from breastfeeding as soon as I got pregnant again. I was shocked at how my appetite disappeared as soon as he was weaned – I guess it’s true that you need more calories while nursing than you do during pregnancy.

Great job listening to your body! I know your appetite will come back eventually.
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17 Natalie @ Free Range Human December 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

I started Crossfit and training for a half marathon about a month and a half ago, and I’m floored by how hungry I am. It’s not intense or out of control, but there’s a noticeable difference than before. The key is to make sure I keep things in moderation and not go overboard!
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18 Caitlin December 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

I don’t really train for specific events but I notice less hunger when I do less intense workouts, for sure. I am typically more hungry the day or two after strength training than I am after cardio. Our bodies really are pretty amazing. It sounds like you’ve done a great job at listening to yours!
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19 Ashley December 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

I have felt the same way after only running a half, I can’t even imagine after doing the full IM! Your body must have gone through shock — but glad it’s worked itself out!

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20 [email protected] December 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I needed to hear this today. 🙂
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21 Paula @ Eat: Watch: Run December 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I’m always starving the day after a long run or hard Crossfit workout. So, I’m sure if I was working out 16 hours a week like you were, I would be hungry all the time and I would be unbearable.

Then again, I was starving today and did nothing yesterday so I don’t know where I’m going with this.
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22 Kristen @ glitteranddust December 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

I always find myself hungrier when I am in training mode. I also have weird cravings for salt, sweets, and random combinations that leads people to believe I am pregnant!

Whenever I am in post-training recovery, my appetite drops big time and I prefer simplicity.
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23 Laura @ Sneakers and Spatulas December 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night hungry even though I ate dinner and had dessert. So annoying as I don’t want to get out of bed to go downstairs and eat. I normally chug some water to fill up ’til morning!
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24 Amanda @runtothefinish December 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

training for the marathon this summer was so strange for me. It was the first time I was putting in a lot of miles and just not hungry at all. I tried to listen to that and balance getting in good foods without forcing myself to take more just because I was training…oddly in the weeks post race I couldn’t eat enough 🙂
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25 PeachyLau December 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Thats my problem at the moment, I am trying to up my exercise level to get a little but fitter but I am getting super hungry so it is tough to find the right balance
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26 Annette @FitnessPerks December 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm

The body is an amazing thing!!! Great job listening so well to yours 🙂
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27 joelle (on a pink typewriter) December 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

This is a great post! Completely agree about listening to your body and snacking smart.. I’m a bottomless pit as well, so that’s a habit I’ve had to learn as well.
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28 Ali December 12, 2013 at 4:19 am

I was for sure one of those people that gained 20 lbs post-Ironman because I kept eating the same without training the same! It was tough for me to shut it off. I’m doing much better in my current training cycle, but it’s still a challenge.

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