Here's 8 Ways To Reduce Appetite, Manage Hunger, And Diet Successfully
Being able to reduce appetite is a crucial aspect of successful and sustainable weight loss.
Giving into a ravenous appetite and uncontrollable cravings is often the number one reason diets fail. And it's likely to be part of the reason your own efforts have failed in the past.
Because setting your calorie target is one thing.
But hitting that target while feeling satisfied is another. Often, you're left feeling so hungry, you could eat double the amount of food.
Every waking moment seems to be consumed by thoughts of food. You stare longingly at the indulgent treats your work colleagues fill their faces with each day. Glancing down at your dust and lentil salad, only makes your appetite increase, and your mood plummet.
But here's the good news.
In this article, you'll discover how to reduce appetite, manage hunger, and free yourself from the dieting nightmare you're trapped in.
And if you want to listen to the audio version of the article, click the play button below:
The Reasons Why You're Struggling To Reduce Your Appetite
You might wonder why you've got such an insatiable appetite in the first place. And why your body wants to fight against your efforts to lose weight?
Changes in appetite can occur for a number of different reasons. Some you'll be aware of, some not.
First, let's talk about your intrinsic motivation and how it sometimes works against you when trying to reduce appetite.
You're a human being. An incredibly complex organism and the perfect food forager.
You have a survival instinct, and that involves a desire to seek food. Specifically, protein, fat, carbohydrate, salt, and glutamine. These are the substances you crave, and ones that provide your brain with a positive response, in the form of dopamine.
The seductiveness of a food is determined by the amount of dopamine a certain food provides. For example, pizza will provide a greater dopamine response than broccoli.
This is what creates your cravings and contributes to your drive to eat more. If you have a diet filled with highly palatable foods, then appetite is likely to be high.
And it makes sense when you think about the foods you crave.
Do you crave spinach and celery, or chocolate and chips?
These studies from 1991, shows a heightened desire for foods contain a mix of carbohydrate, fat, and other ingredients.
At this point, you might think you're "addicted" to sugar and the gurus were right all along. But hold your horses.
Very rarely do you crave foods that are solely sugar. After all, if you did, you'd settle down to a night of Netflix with a spoon and a tub of raw sugar, rather then your favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry's.
As you can see from this 2017 study, foods that were mainly sugar were reportedly craved less than high-fat savoury and high-fat sweet foods.
Easy Access To Highly Palatable Foods
More so than ever, access to food is easy.
And it's cheap.
And food companies aren't stupid. They know what makes you tick. They know how to make food taste good, so you buy more of it.
Added sugar and added fat in the Western diet has increased consistently over time.
Convenience foods are more commonplace on supermarket shelves, providing a quick and easy choice.
Food companies and supermarkets have become experts at marketing their products. Creating desire and drive for food, akin to Pavolvian Conditioning. So your intrinsic drive for food is being met with easy access to highly palatable foods, thereby increasing appetite and your likelihood of overeating.
Hunger Is No Longer The Prime Driver For Eating
When was the last time you spent a day only eating when you were hungry?
And I mean truly hungry. Not the fake hunger you get 30 seconds after finishing lunch.
Most of us don't really eat to satisfy hunger. We eat out of habit, social norms, and social pressures.
You might eat lunch because it's 12pm, because that's what you've always done. Or you might go to visit a friend, where the done thing is for them to offer you a shit load of food. Which you eat, regardless of whether you're hungry or not.
Your struggles to reduce appetite could even go back to your childhood. That's right, you can blame your parents.
Being told to "finish everything on your plate" is a common phrase I heard growing up. And while that's ok to certain degree, it's engraining a behaviour that ignores internal hunger cues.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Because you can take back control of your nutrition and reduce appetite, so that you can lose weight successfully.
Your intrinsic desire for food, coupled with modern society makes it difficult to reduce appetite and avoid cravings. However, understanding these causes helps you make better food choices in the future.
8 Ways To Reduce Appetite And Manage Hunger
Reducing appetite can make dieting easier. Not only that, it helps you transition to the post-dieting phase, without feeling you're 'controlled' by food.
So here's 8 top tips to help you reduce appetite and manage hunger.
Increase Food Volume To Reduce Appetite
Eating more food can help you reduce appetite. And this might seem counter-intuitive initially, but it's all to do with the foods you choose to eat.
Low calorie, nutrient dense foods will help you feel fuller, without making a huge dent in your calorie intake for the day.
Think vegetables, fruits, and beans.
200g of mixed vegetables, contains a little over 100 calories. Whereas 200g of more indulgent food, such as pizza or ice cream, might be 4 or 5 times the amount of calories.
Of course, you can still have these in your diet, but it would be wise to limit them to some degree. Especially if controlling hunger and appetite is the primary goal.
Reduce Appetite By Opting For A High Protein Diet
Not all foods are created equally when it comes to hunger and trying to reduce appetite. Some are more filling than others.
Protein is the king of the filling food groups. So increasing your protein intake should help alleviate some of the cravings you have right now.
Aim for a total protein intake above 1.2g/kg if you're only interested in health and weight loss. And above 1.6g/kg if your goal involves building and preserving muscle.
And it also makes perfect sense to opt for lean, low calorie options to promote greater food volume overall.
Start by aiming to eat protein with each main meal, using lean sources, such as chicken, egg white, white fish, and greek yoghurt (vegan sources are also available).
Increase Satiating Carbs To Feel More Full
Carbs are often considered a no-no when it comes to satisfying hunger. But there are certain carbs that can be very filling.
Water rich carbohydrates such as potato, sweet potato, oats, and beans are more filling than flour rich choices, such as bread (which is surprisingly calorie dense).
For example, a 100g bagel has roughly 250 calories, which is 2.5 times the equivalent amount of boiled potato.
So don't fear carbs. They can contribute to controlling appetite. But be more considered and deliberate with the choices you make.
Increasing Soluble Fibre Might Help Reduce Appetite
Evidence supporting the satiating effects of fibre is mixed.
Theoretically, foods high in soluble fibre take longer to digest by slowing down transit time. Resulting in longer-lasting feelings of fullness than other foods. Some evidence shows this to be the case. However, others suggest more research is required.
The advice here would be to increase your soluble fibre intake and see what effect it has on your personal feelings of hunger.
Foods, such as sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, apples, and oats would be good additions to your diet for many reasons, so they can't hurt.
Get Enough Sleep To Control Hunger Hormones
Sleep (or lack of) has a huge impact on appetite. Ghrelin, the "hunger hormone" increases during a dieting phase, increasing your drive for food.
Wake up after a night of minimal sleep and you might be fighting against an increase in appetite. This is because Ghrelin increases as your amount of sleep declines. Overnight, you transform from a normal human-being in full control of your diet, to a ravenous beast on the hunt for all the food you can lay your hands on.
Needless to say, this isn't working in your favour if you're trying to reduce appetite.
So, focus on establishing a good sleep routine, ideally with 7-9 hours of slumber per night. And here's 5 tips to help you do just that.
- Reduce stimulants, such as caffeine several hours before bed.
- Switch off phones and other tech 60 minutes before bed.
- Learn to switch off and unwind.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark to create the optimal sleep environment.
- Set the same sleep and wake time each day.
Supplement With Caffeine (Maybe)
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can help you both in and out of the gym. Through a small increase in metabolism and potential suppression of appetite (especially around periods of exercise), caffeine could help you manage energy balance.
Which is great when you're looking to reduce appetite.
However, be careful not to value caffeine supplementation over-and-above sleep. Sleep will, by far-and-away, have a greater positive impact on helping to manage hunger.
So think twice before chugging down 25 espressos a day.
Drink Enough Water And Drink Prior to Meals
Drinking a large glass of water directly before eating has been found to help you feel fuller, more satisfied, and less hungry after a meal. Although the impact is small.
Another study, which looked at appetite overweight populations, showed that drinking 1.5 litres of water a day for 8 weeks, resulted in a small but significant reduction in appetite and weight, and also led to greater fat loss.
So consider drinking 1.5-2 litres of water per day.
Stews and soups can also be great options for main meals. Their high volume of water and relatively low calorie content (depending on the soup chosen) make them a filling choice for lunch and dinner.
Try replacing one main meal with a low calorie soup and see if this supports your efforts to reduce appetite.
Eat Mindfully And Listen To Internal Hunger Cues
You've already learned that the brain plays a major role in hunger cues. And this concept extends further into mindful eating practices, which could help you reduce appetite.
With growing popularity, we eat on the move, at our desks, or in front of the TV. Rarely paying attention to what we're eating. Instead, we're content to mindlessly shovel food into our faces, while multitasking. Which in this case means doing several things badly.
If you pay attention to the food you are eating, instead of watching Netflix, you may consume less.
And this is backed up by the research, where mindfulness has been shown to reduce binge eating and comfort eating. Which are often partly a result of increased appetite and hunger drive.
So eat without distraction and take time to savour your food. After all, you spent so long thinking about it, why not take the time to enjoy it?
Paying attention to what you eat and your natural hunger cues can help to reduce appetite and provide you with more control of your eating behaviour.
The Bottom Line On How To Reduce Appetite
Making a concerted effort to reduce appetite can have a hugely positive impact on your efforts to lose weight. Additionally, the tools and techniques you put in place to manage hunger create the positive foundation for sustainability in the post-dieting phase.
Dieting is hard.
Being flexible with food choices and not demonising the foods you love, is a positive step forward in your relationship with food. However, it's important to strike a balance. Too much highly palatable food can make it difficult to manage hunger and avoid over-eating.
Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that drive you to eat more can help you develop methods to manage appetite.
Paying more attention to the foods you eat can help, not only with feelings of appetite, but overall health and well-being too. Above all, successful dieting is about building sustainable, positive habits around food that promote a calorie deficit as well as maximising other important health factors.
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