Discover the Satisfaction Factor & Feel Your Fullness for Performance

intuitive eating satisfaction factor for athletes

Now that you have an understanding of how to honor your hunger for performance, we can dive deeper into the opposite end of that, which is all about respecting your fullness. This post will be covering intuitive eating principles 5 and 6 which are about feeling your fullness and discovering the satisfaction factor. I like to teach these two principles together because it’s important to recognize the differences between them, but also how they work together. People often don’t realize that fullness does NOT always mean satisfaction. 

So, What Does It Mean to Feel Your Fullness?

Feeling your fullness is all about tuning into your body and looking for signals that say you are done eating. A great tool to help you see what fullness feels like is the Hunger-Fullness Scale. However, respecting fullness hinges critically on giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and honoring hunger consistently throughout the day, which is why honoring your hunger comes first!

Your body has to trust that you will feed it again (in a reasonable time) or else overeating may occur. This is because if you aren’t feeding yourself adequately at times the body is hungry, it is unsure of the next time it will be fed. For this reason, it likes to get in as much food as possible. So once you feel comfortable honoring your hunger – rather than ignoring it or depriving your body of what it needs – it will be easier to eat to comfortable fullness, without feeling like you’re overeating regularly.

intuitive eating satisfaction factor for athletes

How to Feel & Respect Your Fullness

A big part of learning to feel, and respect, your fullness is about being mindful when eating. While it isn’t realistic for most of us to be entirely present and mindful at every single meal and snack, here are some tips to get you started: 

  • Pause during and after the meal
  • Ask yourself, how does the food taste? smell? feel?
  • Are you enjoying the meal? How do you feel? (both mentally & physically)
  • Observe physical signs of being full (stomach is full and not growling, you no longer want food, energy is improving)

It may also be important to consider if you fear feeling full and explore the reasons why if you find it to be true.

The Importance of Tuning into Fullness for Athletes

If you’re an athlete or active individual, tuning into fullness is especially important to monitor because it can show patterns of underfueling. For example, if you often get to the point of overeating by having only 2 excessively large meals, it means you likely aren’t eating enough earlier in the day, aren’t fueling well before or during training, and likely aren’t recovering properly from strenuous exercise. 

pre-workout fuel

You may also feel pressure to overeat due to what’s known as the “clean plate club” meaning you feel the need to finish everything that’s on your plate even though you are full. This pressure can come from teammates who are eating more or from family members who hold values that food shouldn’t be wasted. Even without pressure, it can be built as a habit when growing up, or feel normal if you aren’t snacking enough throughout the day.

It’s also helpful to be in tune with your fullness because eating past comfortable fullness may cause GI discomfort or make you feel sluggish for a game or sporting event. However, this practice embraces that we aren’t perfect and, for example, sometimes don’t eat when we’re hungry, leading to overeating later. This isn’t a failure, rather an opportunity to reflect on the experience, recognize what could have gone differently, and be better prepared next time. 

With intuitive eating, you learn from each eating experience and in return become more in touch with your body. Eventually, it’s intuitive to eat in a way that helps you perform your best (i.e. your body knows when/how much to eat) and you know that if you don’t, then the consequences later may impact energy, performance, and recovery.

When considering meal timing, take your busy schedule and the limited windows you may have available to eat into consideration. It may help to consume either more frequent snacks or larger snacks throughout the day in order to keep energy up and avoid ravenous hunger later. Ravenous hunger can feel normal to athletes but often may trigger a feeling of uncomfortable fullness later on. With adequate energy intake before and during a long workout, you can avoid feeling the need to eat quickly and impulsively, enabling you to pay better attention to fullness cues and make more reasonable decisions about fueling and recovery options.

What Is Satisfaction?

Satisfaction is about creating meals and snacks that you enjoy! Without the satisfaction factor, you may find yourself looking for something else to eat later and may also not find the eating experience to be pleasurable (which it should be!). Most people don’t realize this, but satisfaction is actually the best indicator of when to stop eating. For example, if eating a large bland salad with chicken, you are likely physically full from a high volume of vegetables and protein, but probably won’t feel satisfied due to lack of carbohydrate and/or lack of flavor from adequate fat and toppings. Ultimately you may keep searching for other things to eat or feel hungry for another meal or sweets soon after. 

How to Discover the Satisfaction Factor

In general, adding more components, tastes, and textures to meals will help improve satisfaction. When creating a meal you can start doing this by adding some carbs, protein, and fats. For athletes, this is especially important because each of these macronutrients play a role in energy support and exercise recovery. 

Here are some examples of satisfying meal and snack recipes that incorporate not only a balanced blend of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, but also satisfying flavors and textures.

Snacks:

20+ Easy Muffin Recipes

Pumpkin Cranberry Energy Bites

Candied Ginger Pistachios 

Citrus Pistachio Protein Bars

citrus pistachio protein bars

Meals:

Buckwheat Oat Pancakes

One Pan Salmon Meal Prep

High Protein Vegan Stir Fry

Roasted Veggie Polenta and Sea Bass

The Importance of Satisfaction for Performance

Oftentimes diet culture tells us we need to make sacrifices, one being that we should be able to enjoy our food. For example, diet culture might tell you to skip out on the carbs and full-fat foods, but your body is smart and by restricting it, you’ll only be craving it later! You may also end up with nutrient deficiencies and other negative outcomes like low energy or increased injury risk.

So, as it turns out satisfaction is very important for performance. 

Sometimes athletes fear consuming too much food as they worry it will impact performance, but in our experience coaching 1-1 clients, the issue is often that these individuals aren’t eating enough! By merging the principles of sports nutrition and intuitive eating, athletes are able to identify what foods make them feel good, what meals they enjoy, and what foods best fuel their activity level.

If you struggle with fueling your body adequately and need help focusing on nourishment over restriction, we at KJN are here to help. Feel free to reach out to us to hear about our 1:1 coaching program. We teach you how to merge the principles of intuitive eating with sports nutrition to help you achieve long-term success with your nutrition, fitness, and relationship with food. If you’re a female wanting to explore intuitive eating for fitness with more guidance on your own to benefit performance, consider the Fit Fueling full course, or the sports nutrition mini-course.

Intuitive Eating for Performance Series

Check out the other posts in this series!

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