This 1 Lunch Habit Is the Secret to Easy Weight Loss

Dieting isn’t always essential for weight loss. Sometimes, avoiding certain foods between meals is enough to prevent unwanted weight gain for some people. That’s hard to do though, especially if you tend to eat well in the morning and make worse food choices as the day goes on (you’re not alone).

Do you find yourself craving junk food just a few hours after lunch? Do you reach for high-sugar foods to avoid a late-afternoon crash? There’s something you can do to prevent that — and it’s much easier than you think.

What causes food cravings?

3D portrait of brain

You can blame your food cravings on your brain. |

Though you might think cravings start in your stomach, they’re really your brain’s fault. Changes in the amounts of appetite-regulating hormones in certain regions of your brain are mostly to blame. Unfortunately, if you’re prone to emotional eating, you’re also likely to experience these struggles.

Have you ever wondered why you’re randomly craving something sweet, salty, or meaty? The science behind your appetite for certain foods might surprise you.

These are the foods you’re most likely to reach for

Donuts and candy with sugar spread and written text in unhealthy nutrition

Our cravings are hardly ever for something healthy. |

Cravings wouldn’t be so bad if you were more inclined to reach for a fruit or vegetable instead of pizza, ice cream, and french fries. It’s never the stuff that’s good for you — but there’s actually a scientific explanation behind this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, the world’s most addictive foods aren’t your body’s friends. Snacks high in salt, saturated fat, and especially sugar make your brain go crazy — and leave you craving more.

Why are these cravings so hard to resist?

Cinnamon and sugar

Foods high in sugar inspire feelings of comfort. |

Since your body converts what you eat into sugar, and a lot of that sugar ends up in your brain, it’s no wonder sugar is one of the most addicting things you can eat. We tend to associate foods high in sugar, for example, with comfort. The more sugar we eat, the more our brains learn that sugar triggers these good feelings. And it keeps convincing us we need more.

There’s one nutrient in particular that could be the key to resisting late-afternoon cravings. You’ve heard of it before — but you’re probably not eating the right sources to feel full.

You might be eating the wrong foods at lunch

protein sources including meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and nuts

Protein is essential in helping you to feel full. |

Many people turn to fad diets in an attempt to lose weight fast. It might not just be the foods you’re currently eating that are ruining your appetite, but the types of foods you aren’t eating as well.

It turns out a lot of people don’t eat enough protein, especially those who consume the majority of their calories from highly processed carbohydrates. What fad diets don’t tell you is that protein alone might be the missing piece you need in order to achieve weight loss.

Here’s how protein can salvage your weight loss goals

Woman Sitting On Sofa And Eating Lunch

You’re less likely to snack when you have a fulfilling meal. |

Eating protein stimulates the release of the hormone responsible for making you feel full. People who incorporate protein into their diets are less likely to overeat or gain weight as a result of mindless snacking.

Don’t shy away from the protein factor because you’re hesitant to eat red meat or fill up on protein powder. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, there are many plant-based foods you can add to your personal lunch menu to suppress your appetite.

How to pack in the protein at lunchtime

Group Enjoying Business Lunch In Delicatessen

Dairy, nuts, and vegetables will keep you full until dinnertime. |

What you eat at lunchtime matters — and it could determine whether or not you’re able to lose weight. If you can find a way to incorporate high-protein foods into your meal, like dairy, nuts, or even vegetables, you’re less likely to hit that late-afternoon wall and head to the vending machine for a snack.

You can also eat more of these appetite-suppressing foods, high in protein and fiber, to finally beat those cravings for good.

Foods to avoid if you can’t resist cravings

Fast Food

Avoid the fast food and go for quality protein sources. | pamela_d_mcadams/Getty Images

You’re most likely to give in to junk food cravings after you’ve filled up on highly processed foods during your lunch hour. This list extends beyond the obvious culprits, like chocolate, potato chips, and other packaged snack foods. Even if you manage to avoid those, you’re still at risk for over-snacking.

Refined grains, like white bread, processed meats like salami, and most fast food won’t just leave you hungry. They’ll also leave you wanting more. Quality protein, and less salt and sugar, could make all the difference.

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