What does "eating to satiety" really mean?



Hi folks. I was trying to get a feel for what it means to “eat to satiety”. I saw a few different definitions on these forums, from ‘not being hungry’ to ‘not being interested in eating anymore’ to ‘being full’ . For me, those are all very different. I can eat and stop myself, not feel any hunger pangs, but would want to have another couple strips of bacon, or more steak. I’m able to keep eating until I generally don’t feel like eating anymore, but that’s if I eat roughly 20% more. If I eat another 15% more, then I would feel full.

So when ‘eating to satiety’, what’s the right time to stop?

From what I read on these forums, we don’t have to eat to a calorie deficit to lose fat, which I understand. Any extra calories can be diverted into doing some good things for me ie: building muscle. But if I eat 35% more (20%+15%) then that’s about an extra 500 kcal. Doing so feels wrong. Yeah, I’ve been fed the ‘eat less move more’ line over the years. But 500 kcal isn’t insignificant. That’s over ~1lb over the course of a week.

I should probably state my main goals. First goal is to lose fat. Second is to get stronger. I lift every second day, 3 different sessions, therefore doing the same set of lifts every 6 days.

Nowadays, I find that when hunger comes, it feels like it’s more of a suggestion then a something that I have to do. Not like when I was eating a SAD where I felt that if 10 minutes passed without eating something, I would get hangry. Very very hangry.

Not sure if this happens to anyone else, but I often find it easier to OMAD on lifting days then on non-lifting days. I would have thought that should have been the opposite. On a day where I demand more from my body, my body should be asking me for more energy.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

It’s a mystery to me. I don’t have hunger and/or satiety signals. I have other signals that tell me I need to eat: cold, weak, dizzy, lethargic, tired. But pretty much the only signal I get to stop is nothing more will fit. By the time that happens I’ve eaten way more than I need.

So I weigh/measure my food to a set of macros and eat to a target calorie ‘window’. As long as I stay in that window, my weight and configuration remain the same. I’m 75 years old and my primary goal is to maintain my health, not lose lean mass and not gain fat mass. This works for me.


This happens to me also. Lifting seems to deaden my appetite but I do make an effort to get in at least three protein feeds on lifting days in order to maximise muscle gain. On non lifting days I just eat whenever I feel like it which is usually two meals later in the day. It should be noted though that I am trying to build muscle and not lose any weight or fat at the moment.

(Alex ) #4

I have to admit too, I really don’t get those signals either, one thing I DO get is a stomach that is full to an extent, that I know it’s soon going to become uncomfortable to fit more food in!

Every now and again I will eat something really fatty, and that seems to kill off my appetite, but I don’t believe that’s a ketosis thing, I believe it’s more pallet oriented.

Having been a binge / emotional eater in the past, I don’t think I ever really recovered from this, and I remain someone who can literally eat until bursting point!


I can’t do this in a concise manner, it’s a very interesting and complicated topic for me.

We have similarities… :slight_smile:
Those signs are very different for me too. I have “stomach hunger” (I don’t consider it real hunger and it’s easy to ignore), “hunger”, “need for fuel” (it’s usually weakness, dizziness or some other odd experience) and “appetite” signs and they have a very weak correlation. Fullness is something I almost never experience as my stomach needs to reach its maximum capacities for that and it seems it’s about 2 liters…? If I feel something like full without a totally full stomach, I call that perfect satiation as long as it’s a nice feeling. I still can eat at that point but I usually don’t do it and it’s usually the right choice.

I think these things are individual, we all should figure out when to stop. I have more problems with when to start sometimes as I rarely feel any hunger.
But on the right woe, it’s way easier. If I eat the right items on carnivore, I often have a stop sign. I just know I should stop and it would be pretty hard to eat more.
Without it… Many people just eat their planned meal and that’s it. It’s not my style but the amount still matters. If I eat a lot (I can’t guess my calories well but I usually suspect if I went close to my energy need for the day and it’s my first meal), I tend to stop even if I am not satiated yet but I am not hungry anymore. Or just a bit, it will pass. But if I am really hungry, I continue to eat.
And well, people feel if they aren’t hungry or satiated or fully satiated, I guess… It’s not always very sudden but on the right woe, it’s good enough. If I add wrong items, I easily can feel similarly after an extra 1000 kcal so the right food choices are very important for me. (And if I add much carbs, I can make “satiated” into “very hungry”. Added fats? Don’t do a thing just boost my calories. But fatty protein works great except if it’s fowl.)

I need a calories deficit to lose fat (I don’t gain much muscle so of course. but ketosis doesn’t change my energy balance, I stall the same if I don’t eat less and everything else is the same, it seems) and I tend to eat too much so I go for my most satiating items. They are best at telling me when to stop eating too and I feel best using them.

But others have a different experience about fat loss, calories (well our body really don’t work like a calorimeter but mine didn’t get the memo about it) and ketosis.
And overeating is surely not good, we just don’t always know if we do that. Maybe our body needs the extra. We can’t know our CI and especially our CO precisely… So it’s good to listen to our body, sometimes experiment to see what will happen… I have read some surprising stories.

I don’t know if everyone else is great at eating when hungry and it’s just me or not but that can cause a difference too. I can very easily include a significant sized meal without any need. I probably will be a tad more easily satiated the next day but not always and I still end up eating several hundreds of kcals more. I stop when satiated but I start without a need… Actually, if I eat way beyond normal satiation, totally stuff myself, that makes me satiated longer and my calorie intake gets smaller - as long as I won’t include needless meals.

It’s complicated and I still have troubles when I want to decide when to eat and when to stop. Mostly with the former.

Hunger change (softer, better type of hunger) is common, both lowered carbs and fat-adaptation can make a huge difference. And right food choices.

I don’t think lifting days make a difference in my life but 1-2 hour walks often lowered my food intake for the day. If my activity is more strenuous or longer, I do get hungrier. And I always get hungry after lifting - no need for extra food though, maybe partially because I am a beginner with baby weights?
Sure, my body needs more but if it’s not very significant, the food may come the next day (or from my fat reserves)… If I use up a lot of energy (rare but happens), I need much extra food on the very same day. It’s logical as I haven’t a huge amount of extra fat and my body wants to keep it anyway :(.

My decades long overeating past never left me either. I still feel its effect and I left high-carb and the resulting every day (probably often massive) overeating a decade ago, got better habits, learned what to eat to make overeating impossible (not like I eat like that every day, to put it lightly)… But I relax a bit and eat more than I should again. It feels I need to be careful all the time to avoid it and that’s tiresome. It’s not nearly as serious now as years ago but still there. Going lower with carbs solve that problem quicker. I don’t mind my overeating skills, I just need to be someone who I automatically avoid using them.

(Bob M) #6

I find the exact opposite: on my “long” day, I can’t get past around 10:30 am before I have to eat, and I’m hungrier at dinner (around 7:30 pm, usually). My “long” body weight workout is about 55 minutes, done around 6-7pm.

I think satiety is tough. I think I one reason that some people have to count calories, establish a baseline, and eat less than that baseline, is because their feedback mechanism is broken. If they go by feedback, they will eat more. I think that’s true for me.

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it! :wink:

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #7

When you are so satisfied with the food you’ve eaten that you don’t want to continue eating. It’s very different from having to stop because your stomach is about to (literally) burst from the amount of food crammed into it.

When I first started a ketogenic diet, I continued eating the quantity of food at each meal that I was accustomed to eating. After about a week-and-a-half or two weeks, one lunchtime I filled my plate and started eating. I finished about half the plate and suddenly just didn’t want any more. It was really weird, especially for a guy who was accustomed to eating to the bursting-point and still feeling hungry. But I could only put the plate in the refrigerator for later, and it was many hours after that before I felt like eating again.

When I eat to satiety, my guess is that my stomach is somewhere around half-full. It doesn’t mean I can’t put more food into it, but rather that I am so satisfied that I just don’t want to continue eating. The mechanism involves the hormone leptin, which is secreted by fat cells when they are full enough for the body to go for some time without eating. The leptin is supposed to be received by receptors in the ventromedial hypothalamus, which is then supposed to secrete other hormones that create the sensation of satisfaction. On a high-carb diet, the resulting elevated insulin interferes with those receptors, and the sensation of hunger continues. (This makes sense if you think about wanting to eat berries in order to put on fat to hibernate through the winter.) Given that leptin is also involved with temperature regulation and the hormones that trigger puberty, it is not surprising that people on a high-carb diet often tend to feel cold, and that the average age of menarche has been dropping since the dietary guidelines were first promulgated.

There are people who have difficulty with one or more hormones involved in regulating appetite. For example, pituitary tumors can result in obesity, by a couple of different mechanisms. Thyroid problems can also interfere with the sensation of satiety, I believe.

P.S.–This interference by insulin with the leptin receptors may explain a linguistic phenomenon I learned in college: An American typically says “I’m full,” whereas a French person says “J’en ai eu assez” (‘I’ve had enough’).

(Jack Bennett) #8

I had a very related question a few months back. Hope that thread may also be helpful in answering this question: Eating to satiety / eating to fullness / eating to "X"

(Anthony) #9

To me satiety is when you lose the desire to keep eating. It’s not the same as no longer being hungry or feeling physically full. When it happens there’s no mistaking it, but I don’t experience it every meal. I imagine if I kept eating I would, though I’m not sure I’m ready for that experiment yet. Generally the body knows what it wants and will let you know when you’ve got it.

That is unless you’ve spent years around hyper palatable foods designed to keep you eating whether hungry or not and now have difficulty “hearing” yourself.

I’m still trying different things and learning what works best for me. It seems as with so many things there’s not a one size fits all answer for what drives satiety or hunger, or how you’ll experience your own signals. I’d be willing to bet most of the people on this forum don’t derive a lot of satiety from carbohydrates, though there may well be people out there who do.

That French translation is pretty interesting though, just a subtle difference but a significant change of perspective.


To me eating to satiety means AFTER my meal. How long do I go before I even get a ‘real twinge’ of hunger. Being zero carb I am almost ‘never truly hungry’ ever, I am always kinda satiated thru my entire days.

I get clear hunger signals but I never have to eat until I know I am truly hungry and I can tell those differences easily.

For me I just eat. All I want. As much as I require and am happy with and I know my ‘satiety’ time comes for the hrs upon hrs I never feel any type of hunger or need at all.

So I feel it is more for me, eat til happy and full as I want at that meal, and then the good part kicks in…being super satiated with my nutrition that it just holds me for a very long time in great form.

So I kinda see it that way :slight_smile:


I have a problem with my European upbringing, where the rule was “clean off your plate”. So even if you weren’t hungry anymore, you had to finish eating the arbitrary amount of food that was in front of you. You could often ask for more, but that was usually another full meal (especially when visiting relatives - they don’t want to risk you leaving anywhere close to being hungry). So I learned to stop with one ‘serving’ or took the gamble of being completely stuffed by asking for the 2nd. So I’m dealing with the metabolic damage as well as the mental :slight_smile:

I might try a little experiment with myself. When I get to the point of “not being hungry”, I might top off the meal with low carb whey or pea protein and see if I can get to the “not being interested in eating anymore” state. If no hunger pangs come back after a couple hours, that might work out well. I figure that the protein is lower in Calories (~110 kcal) then two more slices of bacon or steak, and that might convince my body to more freely give up fat stores.


On second thought , maybe starting a meal with protein since it’s more satiating then fat is. I think I’ll try that instead.

(Bob M) #13

This was also “popular” in the US, particularly if your grandparents lived (or their grandparents lived) through any war or depression. I was also told to finish my meal. I still find it difficult to not eat everything I take, though I’ve gotten better at it. And, I tend to take less initially.

We don’t make our kids finish what they take, though we do often tell them to eat their meat. My kids know that’s the most important part of the meal. :wink:

(Anthony) #14

Though I’m not zero carb I’ve been getting some of this too. I’ve noticed that irritability, lethargy, and feeling cold have been preceding hunger recently. I still get hungry but I go many hours between meals. This coincided with my saturated fat focus a la Brad Marshall experiment. Being carnivore you’re already pretty much there too, I think it may be for the same reasons.

@mavro I’ve been doing essentially that myself. Start with protein, then eat the rest of my food. If I’m not satisfied after I’ll have a little ham or other lean meat. If that doesn’t do it I’ll have some cream. My diet is fairly protien centric already so it’s usually fat I’m wanting. It has helped me pin point a few things and learn to better interpret my cravings. It’s interesting to note that my protien requirement/craving is pretty static at 150 grams/day minimum and I’ll be absolutely starving if I’m short of it (though I usually consume about 200g), but my fat cravings can vary wildly day to day.

(Bob M) #15

One thing that still works for me for a high saturated fat diet, is that I’m hotter. When I go to sleep at night, if I partake of a high saturated fat meal (usually, ricotta cheese, cacoa butter, some chocolate), I’m almost burning up at night. We have a sheet, blanket, and cover on our bed, and we keep it in the low 60s (F). If I eat high saturated fat, I usually just use the sheet. If I get away from eating high saturated fat for a while, I’ll have to add one or both of the blanket and cover.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #16

@ctviggen That would be your metabolic advantage at work. I often get very hot at night, or at least for a few hours of it. But I did so pre-keto as well, so maybe some of us are just ‘hot blooded’. I spent the decade of the 70’s at Lake Laberge, Yukon. Loved it, especially winters.

(KCKO, KCFO) #17

Not just a Euro idea, at my house, you cleaned your plate EVERY MEA You did not waste food.

I don’t have the best signals system either. So I eat on a smaller sized plate, it is about 8 ins. and I fill the middle part. I eat what I feel like eating, sometimes I clear it sometimes I don’t.

With this WOE, the only times I feel hunger is when I have been fasting. I’m in year 4 of being at goal weight after struggling most of my adult life and using every diet under the sun, till I landed in Keto/LCHF land.

(Bob M) #18

Could be. But at one time, I was getting so cold (over-fasting?) that I could not touch my hands to my own body.

I would not doubt genetic or other differences, including in brown fat (which I think is the real reason for “heat”). And if you look at kids/tweens/teens, they can go outside in the winter in shorts and a thin shirt. At one time, I had to wear many layers just to get outside.

It’s entirely possible I could be confusing higher saturated fat with an increase in brown fat over time. Unfortunately, there’s no test for brown fat, so I can’t quantify this.

It could also be muscle, as I’m much stronger now than I was a year ago. Or some combination: muscle; brown fat; saturated fat.

(Anthony) #19

Has your weekly calorie intake remained constant? Similar macro nutrient ratios? Just spit balling possible variables.

(Bob M) #20

No idea. Low carb/keto since 1/1/14, never tracked any food intake except for when I was trying to see whether protein affected blood sugar level (it did not). And then only for that one meal.

If DEXA scans were cheaper (they’re about $150/each where I live), that could help. At least then I could compare with my previous DEXA scans to see what fat free mass I’ve gained.