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Biological vs. Habitual Hunger

By Bob Seebohar

There is a distinct difference between eating when you are biologically hungry and eating out of habit.

Biological hunger is easily characterized by stomach pangs and decreased cognitive focus. During these times, the body and the brain absolutely needs fuel. It is best to try to identify biological hunger about 30 minutes before it sets in so you can eat before the craving response hits.

In contrast, habitual hunger is either tied to the clock or emotions. For most athletes, I encourage them to eat when they are biologically hungry so they do not let emotional triggers such as stress, boredom and fatigue drive their eating patterns and overeat.

By simply asking yourself, "Am I biologically hungry?" you will be able to identify the difference, control your blood sugar and decrease the infamous craving response better.

Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS is a sport dietitian and elite triathlon coach.  He traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympics as the U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Dietitian and the personal Sport Dietitian for the 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team.  He is also Sarah Haskins' personal coach and was a performance team member (sport dietitian and strength coach) for Susan Williams, 2004 Olympic Triathlon Bronze Medalist.

Bob's book, Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes: Taking Sports Nutrition to the Next Level will provide triathletes of all levels education on how to structure their nutrition program based on their exercise program. For more information, visit or contact Bob at