Is the Always Hungry Solution Plan Healthy?

Our team likes to look at popular diets to learn if they hold merit or are unsafe. The Always Hungry Solution plan is based on the book Always Hungry by endocrinologist David Ludwig. The diet plan focuses on eating protein, healthy fat and few processed carbs. You don’t count calories and eat until you feel satisfied.

The belief behind the plan is that eating protein and healthy fats will make people feel sated faster and longer so that they will eat less. It also claims to “reset the body to lose weight.”

While many consider it a weight-loss diet, Dr. Ludwig does not. “Although many people come to (the Always Hungry Solution plan) for weight loss, our not-so-secret agenda is improving metabolic health, reducing risk for chronic diseases like [blood sugar concerns] and enhancing well-being. We consider weight loss a pleasant side effect,” he said.

Dr. Ludwig believes that weight gain isn’t caused by overeating. That’s why calorie counting isn’t part of the diet. Instead, he said, weight gain is caused by processed carbs and sugar. He says you can lower insulin levels and support metabolism without cutting calories by eating protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs. He also recommends getting eight hours of sleep. Poor sleep leads to poor food choices and can upset your metabolism and hormone levels.

In a pilot study of 237 participants, people lost 0.5 to two pounds a week while following the plan. They reported more satisfaction with food, less hunger, more energy and feeling fuller. But it wasn’t a controlled study, so more research is needed.

The plan has benefits. Focusing on a healthy diet and emphasizing food quality makes it much more sustainable than a restrictive diet with a strict calorie count. And its strong emphasis on whole foods is helpful to people with blood sugar concerns. However, it might be hard to follow for someone who doesn’t cook as much or eat every meal at home. Plus, it emphasizes a lot of animal proteins that might make it hard for vegetarians to follow.

We recently wrote a blog about how obesity can permanently change how the brain recognizes hunger. The brain of someone who is overweight or obese has a much harder time recognizing the cues to stop eating. A diet that recommends not counting calories and eating until you’re full might not be a good fit for people with difficulty recognizing when they are full.

If you decide the Always Hungry Solution plan is right for you, there is a Facebook Community page dedicated to it. There are also complete weekly menus on Dr. Ludwig’s website. It’s not a terrible diet; while not counting calories may not work for everyone, it might benefit others. Starving yourself is a recipe for a diet backfiring, so this one is already better than many restrictive ones that are bound to fail from the word go.  

The diet plan’s claims about “retraining your fat cells” seem dubious. We’d like more proof about those. However, this diet isn’t a bad choice if you prefer to eat with the guidance of rules. Before starting any diet, you should always review it with your doctor to be sure it’s right for you, but this isn’t one that we are condemning.

Banner image: Nicole Michalou via Pexels

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