Carnal Hunger: Back to Basics for Your Nutritional Needs

By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist


We know that the isolated function of the bicep is to flex the elbow. I want to use that same idea and shift into behavior change as far as eating habits. Making a lifestyle change in this arena is difficult as far as discipline and I’m determined to figure out a solid place to start. We know what’s healthy and what’s detrimental as far as food choices, but most of us still can’t make the right ones. At least not consistently. But we need to because we’re worth it. 

Our bodies have built-in mechanisms for every aspect of survival, adaptations and thriving that we could possibly imagine. This includes a carnal instinct to correct an energy deficit. Just like we need our bicep to flex the elbow. A message is sent from the brain, and the muscle moves the skeleton into flexion. 

Follow me? Our brains, particularly the hypothalamus, will send a message when our bodies need energy. Something like, “Hey, you need to feed me if you would like me to continue to do what you are asking. I’m out of calories to turn into energy.” 

I’m wondering if we can relearn and/or reteach ourselves to listen to that message. Some days, depending on activity, stress and sleep, we will need more food than others. If we stop trying to focus on how often we eat, what time it happens, and when we will need it again, perhaps we can change our relationship with food to a more functional perspective. Eat when you feel hungry (from the carnal message, not from emotional distress, social or cultural demands.) When you feel hungry, choose healthy things. If you do, your body will use them efficiently and effectively, and then ask for more. This is a good thing. 

We can try to suppress hunger to try and lose weight, but if we’re going for an overall healthy lifestyle, is that really a good thing? We humans are getting really good at messing with all our instincts and confusing our bodies all over the place. 

I realize it’s not as simple as this and there is an overwhelming amount of circumstances that need to be considered. But I do think that polishing our body awareness in general can fuel success in all our unique fitness journeys. With the awareness comes understanding of ourselves. Understanding will make it easier to listen. Listening will fuel discipline. Discipline leads only to success!


Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and owner of Elevate Fitness. Jesse is a co-organizer for Priority Fit Camp. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Priority Fit Camp community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.  

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