Taming the appetite can be challenging for many of us. Without doing so, weight management or successful weight loss are impossible. Learn eight practical, reasonable tips that can help you tame your appetite!
Eat plant-based whole foods. When it goes to fat loss, a calorie does not always equal a calorie. Consider this interesting study. Dieters who adopted a low-calorie vegetarian diet not only lost weight more efficiently than those on conventional low-calorie diets, but they also improved their metabolism by reducing muscle fat. Both groups in this study had reduced fat under the skin. When compared to a standard low-calorie diet, the vegetarians, however, experienced more reduction in the fat that lines the muscles and a considerable reduction of stored fat inside the muscles. 1Losing muscle fat improves both glucose and lipid metabolism; so this finding is particularly significant for people who have pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Legumes for Meat
Substitute legumes for meat protein. Proteins help to curb hunger. Whole plant food proteins are real winners in appetite control. In a pooled analysis from 21 studies, among the 940 participants, there was an overall significant but modest weight reduction with the diet containing one serving of legumes a day, compared to diets without them. Calories were not restricted.2 (Six weeks was the average period of the studies.) Legumes help to stabilize blood sugar and have a low glycemic index value. Consequently, their consumption improves appetite control.3
Eat greens and salads first. There is evidence that thylakoids found in spinach can reduce hunger and cravings. Other leafy greens such as cabbage, lettuce, kale, and collards contain this substance too. Thylakoids encourage the release of satiety hormones, which is very beneficial in slowing down fat digestion.4 Eat salad and greens first at a meal for optimal effect in controlling appetite and blood sugar levels. Use lemon or a touch of virgin olive oil to improve the taste and enhance the flavor of these vegetables. It is wise to rotate greens and not just emphasize one type. Individuals who have thyroid problems should avoid raw kale and raw collards. Doesn’t it make sense to fill up on high-fiber, low-calorie foods at the beginning of a meal?
Enjoy Good Fats
Eat nuts, seeds, avocados, and green ripe olives as they, too, provide satiety. Daily consumption of an ounce of nuts may improve mood and help control appetite. How? Serotonin is a nerve chemical that helps decrease feelings of hunger, makes people feel happier, and enhances self-control, mental outlook, and heart health. There is a link between nut consumption and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS). (MetS symptoms include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.) MetS increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Good news: It took only one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts) a day to produce the beneficial effects.5
Nuts have the healthful fatty acids and are high in fiber. These two additional benefits improve satiety. Not only are nuts helpful, but so are olives and avocados. Nuts, avocados, and olives trigger production of a compound in the small intestine that curbs hunger pangs. The unsaturated fatty acid in these foods stimulates production of OEA (oleoylethanolamide), which in turn decreases appetite.6
Consuming fried food could interact with genes related to obesity.7
Reducing fried food consumption is essential for those individuals genetically predisposed to obesity. Saturated fats trick us into eating more, and this interferes with two hormones (leptin and insulin) that help us to control appetite.8They also cause inflammation and rewire the brain circuits. These changes in the brain make it more difficult to control appetite.9 Trans fat consumption encourages fat deposition in the belly. Save your heart and make your own desserts free of trans fats.
Watch Out for A.S.
Skip the Artificial Sweeteners! They sabotage your attempts at controlling your appetite. Consuming artificial sweeteners can make one feel hungry and eat more. Animal studies show that after chronic exposure to a diet that contained the artificial sweetener sucralose, animals began eating a lot more.10 People who regularly consume artificial sweeteners show altered activation patterns in the brain’s pleasure centers in response to the sweet taste, suggesting that these products may not satisfy the desire for sweet.11,12
How Is Your Balancing Act?
Eat a Balanced Diet. The typical Western diet is low in nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, but rich in animal products, fats, sugar, and refined products. The Western diet activates fat genes so that more fat is stored.13 Unfortunately, this diet also increases the population of unfriendly gut bacteria which release pro-inflammatory compounds. Obesity is a pro-inflammatory condition and, as such, fuels chronic diseases.
The Caffeine Blues
Get off of caffeine. Yes indeed, caffeine dulls our ability to taste sweet food and drinks, which may increase our desire for them.14 It is difficult to get off caffeine all at once. So, gradually and incrementally reduce your intake within a two week period until you have eliminated it.
Get Sufficient Sleep!
Sleep deprivation reduces the front brain’s capacity to choose healthful foods. Studies show that sleep deprivation strengthens the sensation of hunger, makes junk food more attractive, and alters the hormones that control the appetite. 15,16,17
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- Taylor & Francis. “Vegetarian diets almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, study finds.” ScienceDaily, 12 June 2017.
- Kim SJ. Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutrition. 2016 May; 103(5):1213-23.
- Roberts SB. High-glycemic index foods, hunger, and obesity: is there a connection? Nutrition Review 2000 58:163-169.
- Taylor & Francis. “Effects of spinach extract on satiety: Feel full, curb cravings.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2015.
- American Chemical Society. “Benefits of nut consumption for people with abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure.” Science Daily. 10 November 2011.
- University of California – Irvine. “How Fatty Foods Curb Hunger.” ScienceDaily, 10 October 2008. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007123647.htm
- BMJ-British Medical Journal. “Fried foods may interact with genes to influence body weight, say experts.” ScienceDaily, 18 March 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318190027.htm
- www.scientificamerican.com/article/lard-lesson-why-fat-lubricates, October 19, 2009.
- Emanuela Viggiano, Effects of a High-Fat Diet Enriched in Lard or in Fish Oil on the Hypothalamic Amp-Activated Protein Kinase and Inflammatory Mediators. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 2016; 10.
- University of Sydney. “Why artificial sweeteners can increase appetite.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2016.
- Cell Press. “The dark side of artificial sweeteners: Expert reviews negative impact.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130710122000.htm
- The University of Sydney. “Why artificial sweeteners can increase appetite.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2016.
- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Western diets turn on fat genes: Energy-dense foods may activate genes that ultimately make us obese.”. ScienceDaily, 1 December 2009.
- Cornell University. “Caffeine tempers taste, triggering temptation for sweets.” Science Daily, 24 August 2017.
- Stephanie M. Greer, Andrea N. Goldstein, Matthew P. Walker. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3259.
- Stony Brook Medicine. “Sleep deprivation in teens linked to poor dietary choices.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130620162746.htm
- Dashti HS. Short sleep duration and dietary intake: epidemiologic evidence, mechanisms, and health implications. Adv Nutr. 2015 Nov 13; 6(6):648-59