Taming the appetite can be challenging for many of us. Without doing so, weight management or successful weight loss are impossible. Learn ten practical, reasonable tips that can help you tame your appetite!
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. 1 Losing muscle fat improves both glucose and lipid metabolism; so this finding is particularly significant for people who have pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Emphasize Whole Plant Foods
Going vegetarian or plant-based isn’t going to help you if you eat frequently refined grains and meat analogs. Nutrient dense meals from whole, fiber-rich plant foods reduce hunger and discomfort between meals. One study showed that nearly 80% of participants who ate nutrient dense whole plant meals reported that their experience of hunger had changed since starting the high nutrient density diet with 51% reporting a dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger. 2
Eat Legume Based Dishes Instead of 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.3 (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.4
A recent review study reports that adding fiber-rich legumes such as peas, chickpeas, and lentils to your meal can increase feelings of fullness by 31%, compared to equivalent meals that aren’t based on beans. 5
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.6 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.7
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 the production of OEA (oleoylethanolamide) which in turn decreases appetite.8
Eat Colorful Whole Plant Foods
Chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, cancer, etc. generate more free radicals than the body can typically process. Oxidative stress occurs when the body produces more free radicals than its antioxidant enzymes handle. Not only does oxidative stress damage the DNA and organelles of the cell, it also makes appetite control more difficult. How?
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is an intestinal hormone that exerts profound effects in regulating blood glucose and is a satiety hormone. Leptin is another satiety hormone. When GLP-1 and leptin bind to their respective receptors, we are satisfied and don’t overeat. Oxidative stress creates resistance to these two satiety hormones, so they do not work effectively and, consequently, make appetite challenging to control.9 Colorful plant foods contain myriads of anti-inflammatory nutrients and phytochemicals that synergize to protect your body from free radical damage. Vitamin pills, although helpful sometimes, do not offer the wide variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds as whole plant foods do.
Avoid Deadly Culprits!
Consuming fried food could interact with genes related to obesity.10 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.11They also cause inflammation and rewire the brain circuits. These changes in the brain make it more difficult to control appetite.12 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.13 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.14,15
How Is Your Balancing Act?
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.17 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.
Chew Your Food Don’t Drink It!
Water between meals is one of the best beverages to improve metabolism. One 4 ounce glass of freshly made juice can be helpful in getting antioxidants, but juices only have very marginal amounts of fiber and phytochemicals when compared to whole foods. Chewing increases CCK (cholecystokinin), a hormone that suppresses appetite and promotes fullness and satiety. Thorough mastication also decreases the hunger hormone ghrelin.Water between meals is the best beverage to improve metabolism.
The Caffeine Blues
Get off caffeine..
Yes indeed, caffeine dulls our ability to taste sweet food and drinks which may increase our desire for them.18 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. 19,20,21
- Taylor & Francis. “Vegetarian diets almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, study finds.” ScienceDaily, 12 June 2017.
- Fuhrman J. Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet. Nutr J. 2010, 9:51.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2988700/
- 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.
- Siying S.Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of acute feeding trials. Obesity. Vol.22:8. August 2014. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/1930739x/2014/22/8
- 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
- Wittman I. The Common Single Cause of Chronic Multi-Hormones Resistance in Oxidative Stress. Antioxidants. 2023, 12(1), 75
- 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.
- Rakova N. Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake. J Clin Invest. 2017. 127 (5):1932-1943. April 17, 2017. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/88530/cite
- 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