Confused by your appetite? Break the hunger cycle

Mmmmm, homemade pancakes for breakfast.

Are you one of the many athletes who feels that something is off with your hunger?

-You don't feel hungry before a workout OR you feel starving before a workout but you stop yourself from eating "too much" because you don't want to feel too full during your workout
-You feel really hungry in the middle or toward the end of a workout
-You have little appetite post workout OR you are starving post workout
-When it's time to eat your meals, you don't feel hungry enough to eat but in between meals and in the evening, you are starving

If you are an athlete who knows that there are times when you should/shouldn't be so hungry, but you just can't seem to understand or fix your hunger, something needs to change.

I've worked with many athletes, just like yo,u and it's not just an annoying feeling to be hungry during your workouts and during snack time but have no appetite during meal time or befor/after workouts, but it can also be performance limiting when you are not eating appropriately before, during and after your workouts, as well as throughout the day.

In my experience, for the athletes who are stuck feeling hungry at the wrong times, it's very common to eat/fuel too much during a workout because the hunger is too much to handle when training. While there is nothing wrong with eating a little something to satisfy hunger while training, if this is happening often, it's hard to:

1) Fine-tune your sport nutrition strategy to meet metabolic needs.
2) Fuel properly. You may end up overfueling, thus eating more than your body can digest and absorb.
3) Break the cycle. You are making your cycle worse because every time you eat too much during a workout to satisfy hunger, this causes you to not feel hungry after the workout, thus enabling this cycle to continue.

If this is you, your appetite/hunger cycle needs to be fixed.

To help break this cycle, it would be most beneficial to work with a sport dietitian who can analyze your current daily diet and sport nutrition regime. Sometimes, all it takes is better meal planning (ex. more balanced meals), betting timing of meals and snacks or a different fueling regime around and during workouts.

If you think you can break this cycle on your own, I suggest to spend 72 hours during the week (when you are training consistently in the morning and/or at night) and make yourself eat similar meals, at similar times throughout the day (even if you aren't hungry). If a workout is more than 60 minutes, use some type of sport nutrition during the workout and make sure you eat before and after your workouts with a small pre/post workout snack. 

After this temporary period of being consistent with your eating, you should notice that your body is more in sync with your workouts and you are hungry at the right times during the day (with less hunger, during your workouts).

Ultimately, the goal of timing your appetite appropriately with your workouts is to help you best fuel and refuel from workouts, stay nourished with healthy food options during the day and to feel energized during your workouts without feeling limited by intense hunger.