Satiating Your Hunger and Quenching Thirst

By John Paul de Guzman

Have you ever felt hungry or thirsty during or after a workout? It is not uncommon to confuse the two sensations when it comes to your appetite and wonder, “Should I eat or drink, and when?” In this article, we will identify the body’s different signals and how to mindfully respond to them to manage hunger and thirst.

Hunger is the body’s signal indicating its need for food and energy. There are three types of hunger that reflect your body’s need for food in everyday life: physical, emotional, and situational hunger. First,  symptoms of physical hunger include stomach growling, weakness, headaches, loss of concentration, and mood swings. Be mindful of these physical signals and respond to them regularly because if they are ignored, then the body will release hormones that increase the sensation of hunger, decreasing the hormone that enhances satiety (Brown, 2017). Second, emotional hunger is the desire to eat to cope with feelings (i.e., sad, lonely, anxious, or bored). Unmanaged emotional hunger can lead to eating disorders and/or worsened emotional health, which in extreme cases professional support from a mental health counselor or dietitian is suggested.

The best way to manage hunger is to recognize these signals to distinguish between physical versus emotional hunger. Then, use The Hunger Scale to measure your hunger level before, during, and after eating to monitor your food intake:

1-Extremely hungry
2-Very hungry
3-Mildly hungry
4-Satisfied (not hungry nor full)
5-Midely full
6-Very full
7-Extremely full

Third, situational hunger is influenced by your surroundings. For example, extra-large restaurant servings, food ads, and your home and workplace influence your food intake. Furthermore, when individuals are eating and distracted by watching television, on a phone call, or browsing the web, their attention is drawn away from the food being eaten, which can lead to over-consumption (Crome, 2017). In response to these habits, the Food and Brand Lab recommends the “C.A.N.” approach, which encourages making healthy foods Convenient, Attractive, and Normal (Brown, 2017). For instance, consider decluttering your kitchen, pre-washing and slicing produce, preparing healthy meals in batches on the weekends for your workweek ahead, or replacing unhealthy snacks with better on-the-go options. As you can see, there are different types of hunger, but if you listen and respond to these signals mindfully, your relationship with food will be more positive.

Meal timing is key to workout performance and recovery. It is normal to feel hungry after a workout because exercise burns calories. Whether or not you eat before your workout can impact your hunger later in the day. In fact, exercising in a fasted state will lead to early fatigue, poor stamina, and increased hunger later (Bachus and Macdonald, 2015). Sheri Berger, BaySport Registered Dietitian, recommends that for quick energy, pre-workout meals should consist mostly of carbohydrates and consumed 1-2 hours prior to strength training (e.g., a smoothie or Greek yogurt with fruits, nuts, and honey) or having a small snack (e.g., granola bar, fresh fruit, or a bagel with peanut butter) about 30-60 minutes before cardio or circuit training. Following cardio or circuit training, eat a small snack within 30 minutes after your workout and a meal, composed of a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 carbs and protein (e.g., pasta with a salad and a glass of milk), within 2 hours of finishing. Similarly, post-workout meals following weight training should be consumed within 2 hours and composed of a carb to protein ratio of 2:1 or 1:1 (e.g. grilled chicken with rice and broccoli). Whenever possible, choose whole foods.

At the same time, if you feel hungry, you might actually be thirsty. Thirst is the body’s signal that it is on the way to dehydration. The American Council on Exercise emphasizes that most people do not drink enough water before, during, and after exercise, but it is recommended to drink whether you are thirsty or not. Consider the various factors that influence intake throughout your day: sweat rate, water lost through excretion, food and beverage consumption, metabolic water loss and any water lost through respiration. Given that, the brain sometimes confuses a lack of fluid with not enough food, signaling physical hunger symptoms. In addition, be aware of concentrated and decreased urine (urine should be a pale yellow), weight loss, increased heart rate and low blood pressure, dry mouth and eyes, and constipation. Because water composes more than half of the human body, it is impossible to sustain life for more than a week without it and must be consumed to replace the amount lost each day during basic activities.

Water is the best form of hydration for most individuals, and it is recommended to drink eight 8 ounce cups of water a day. Before exercise, drink 2-3 cups of fluid 2 to 3 hours before workout and 1 cup of fluid 10 to 20 minutes right before activity. During exercise, drink 1 cup of fluid every 15 minutes, and after exercise, drink at least 2 cups. Sports drinks are not needed unless the activity exceeds 45-60 minutes to replenish salt lost during sweat. If sports drinks are unavailable drink water and having a salty snack (i.e. pretzels). Moreover, daily water intake does not always need to be met through the consumption of plain water (Nitschke, 2017). Foods and beverages possessing hydrating properties that work to our benefit include: fruits fresh, frozen or canned in natural juice, leafy greens, dairy, coffee/tea, tomatoes, and oatmeal.

In conclusion, listen to your body’s hunger signals and respond to them accordingly. Time your meals and check the hunger scale to monitor food intake, choosing whole foods whenever possible. Remember to drink throughout the day to quench your thirst and that there are alternative sources from which you can fulfill your daily water intake from. Taking steps to manage your thirst and hunger will promote a more positive relationship with food and a satiated appetite.


Bachus, T., R.D.N., & Macdonald, E., R.D.N. (2015, July 20). Why Am I Always Hungry After a Workout? Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Brown, K. (2017, March 10). All About Hunger. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Crome, G. (2017, March 7). Mindful Eating. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Healthy Hydration. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2017, from

Nitschke, E. (2016, December 28). Eat Your Water – Sources of Hydrating Foods. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Author’s Bio

John Paul (JP) is a American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer. He is a Bay Area native and long-time San Francisco Giants and 49ers fan. He spent most of the winter shredding the slopes on his snowboard, but is ready to hit the ground running again to train for his 7th full marathon.

Significant Nutrition Label Changes (FINALLY)

Nutrition Facts New LabelBy Deanna Lyons

Finally, after years of push back from the food industry, the FDA announced the changes that are to be made on packaged food calorie labels. These changes will make the nutrition label easier to read and better inform consumers on what they’re eating. Although most companies won’t be required to change their labels until 2018, this is what we have to look forward to:

  • The “serving size” and “calories per serving” titles will be presented in larger, bolder fonts.
  • The amount of added sugar per serving will be listed for the first time. The “daily value”  (shown as a percentage) of sugar will also be added to the label (similar to how fats,  carbohydrates, and sodium are listed now).
  • Amounts of Iron, Potassium, Calcium, and Vitamin D will be added to the label since  most Americans don’t get enough of these vitamins in their daily diet. On the other hand,  Vitamin C and Vitamin A will no longer be required on the label since a lack of one of  these two vitamins is very rare.
  • Fat labeling will be broken down to include “total fat” with subsections such as “saturated  fat” and “trans fat”. This is an effect of recent studies showing some fats are worse for  you than others.

While this labeling won’t be in effect for a few years, it’ll make deciphering what you’re putting in your body much easier. More transparency within the food industry is needed to help battle preventable diseases that are plaguing our country. While the battle is not over, this is one step in the right direction.

Belluz, Julia. (2016). The FDA just made the most significant changes to the nutrition label in years.

About the Author:
Deanna received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Activity from San Jose State University. She is also a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Deanna manages all elements of BaySport’s Biometric Screening events, promotes and coordinates the Health Coaching programs, and provides ongoing support for BaySport Wellness services. During her free time, Deanna enjoys spending time outside. Hiking, swimming, and camping are some of her favorite outdoor activities.

The Mighty Leafy Green

lettuceby Sheri Berger

Leafy green vegetables are nutrition powerhouses! Packed with vitamins K, A and C, calcium, potassium, iron, and fiber, leafy greens are a mighty source of nutrition. Kale, in particular, has been in the nutrition spotlight for some time, although it is worthy of the attention, all other leafy greens are just as deserving! It is important to consume a variety of greens such as spinach, collards, chards, and cabbage to reap the full nutrition benefits of enhancing immunity, disease protection, good eyesight, and healthy bones.

Leafy greens are available year round. Spring is the peak season for chards,
spinach, and lettuces. Cabbage, collards, kale, turnip greens and mustard greens are more sweet and tender during the winter months. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 1½ cups of dark green vegetables per week, but consuming them daily may be more advantageous according to a recent study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Findings in the study suggest, a serving of leafy greens per day may help prevent dementia. The study evaluated the mental ability and eating habits of 954 men and women enrolled in Rush University Medical Center in Chicago’s Memory and Aging Project over a five-year span. According to one of the study leads, Martha Clare of Rush University, “The brain benefits associated with dark leafy greens likely stem from several key nutrients, particularly vitamin K.” Study participants who ate one or two servings of leafy greens daily were found to have slower mental deterioration than those who ate none. The team of researchers determined that those who consistently ate one or more servings of greens per day had the mental capacity of someone a decade younger than those who avoided greens.

With a host of beneficial nutrients and only 5 to 40 calories per cup, it seems like a great idea for everyone to consume leafy greens daily. And it is a wise choice for most people, however, not for all. Since large amounts of vitamin K can interfere with blood thinning medications such as warfarin, it is important those individuals consult with their doctor or registered dietitian before adding more greens to their diet. Also, individuals who need to follow a low oxalate diet for kidney stones should ease up on the leafy greens.

It is easy to incorporate leafy greens daily, here’s how:


  • Add a large handful of kale, spinach, or chard to a morning smoothie.
  • Prepare an omelet or egg scramble with a cup of chopped spinach or Swiss


  • Enjoy an Asian inspired salad with chopped cabbage or bok choy.
  • Add greens to sandwiches and wraps or use large leaf varieties such as romaine lettuce, Swiss chard or collard greens as a wrap.


  • Prepare baked kale chips. Evenly spread thoroughly washed and dried kale
    leaves on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, garlic powder, and a squirt of
    lemon juice. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes on each side or until
  • Enjoy a Matcha Green tea latte. Matcha is finely ground green tea leaves that resembles a powder.


  • Add kale or spinach to pasta dinners.
  • Prepare a sauteed green as a side dish.
  • Add a serving of leafy greens to a soup or stew, perfect with a lentil based soup or minestrone.


Coffman, M (2015) SF Gate, The Calcium in Broccoli and Dark Leafy Veggies.
Retrieved from

Lentz, L (May 2015) Today’s Dietitian, For Your Information: Top Food and Nutrition Trends. Retrieved from

Mars, R (8/1/2014) Livestrong, Do Your Body Good By Adding More Leafy Green Veggies to Your Diet. Retrieved from

Moore, M (2/24/2014) Food & Nutrition Magazine, Leafy Greens Nutrition Rock Stars. Retrieved from

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

About the Author:

Sheri Berger is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist having completed her B.S. in
Food/Nutrition & Dietetics and a dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. Sheri has a diverse professional background that includes hospital and outpatient clinic patient support, preventive wellness programs, corporate wellness services, cardiovascular disease management, and working with seniors. She enjoys engaging her clients in pursuit of their personal wellness goals and leading by example with her healthy lifestyle. In 2005, Sheri was certified in adult weight management. She belongs to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, California Dietetic Association, and the San Jose Peninsula District of the CDA. Sheri enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two daughters. She loves to run and has completed several half marathons; she is looking forward to running a few more in the upcoming months.