Here's how athletes should approach hunger.
“Calorie counting can be exhausting, draining, and even disrupt your innate ability to understand hunger and fullness cues,” says Ashvini Mashru, RD, a nutrition coach based in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Fortunately, it’s not the most effective way to ensure healthy eating. Instead, athletes should listen to their bodies and aim to be 80 percent full.
Since issues like stress and sleep deprivation can skew hunger signals, it's important to check in with yourself periodically. To prevent mindless snacking, rate your hunger on a scale of one to 10 (one is full, like you just ate a satisfying meal, and 10 is starving) and eat when you’re at a seven or eight. At a four or five, ask yourself if there could be anything else behind your hunger, like boredom or thirst.
To be successful, minimize distractions and eat slowly, putting down your fork every few bites and sipping plenty of water.