Six Science Based Ways to Reduce Hunger and Appetite

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 13:33

Physical hunger is triggered by hormone shifts – ghrelin, cortisol, insulin, leptin etc. Without having to be an endocrinologist you absolutely can help yourself out here by manipulating your food choices and making some simple lifestyle changes!

First goal is to stabilize your blood sugar. This encapsulates a few tips in one. Eat protein. Eat fiber rich food. Avoid processed carbohydrates like refined grains and sugars. Eat every 3 – 4 hours. These behaviors keep insulin from surging, subsequently crashing your blood sugar and thereby making you hungry again because your blood sugar is low. This is why when we eat processed grains and refined sugars we end up constantly hungry and craving more. Because these foods spike blood sugar, insulin gets released in a high dose to help remove the sugar from your blood, but then it ends up leaving you with low blood sugar creating a sugar crash. Be sure to eat all macro nutrients in every meal. Protein, fat, and carbs to help stabilize any blood sugar spike. And, make sure your carbs are from whole foods (not refined and processed). So, whole grains like oatmeal, wild rice, quinoa, beans, legumes etc. and not white bread, white pasta, white processed cereal. Eat fruit instead of fruit juice or refined sugar like candy bars and pastries. And eat on a set schedule every 3-4 hours so that you don’t allow your blood sugar to dip so low you over eat because you overly hungry.

Practice volumetrics! We need to do our best to expand your stomach without eating too many calories. When your stomach expands it releases a hormone called Leptin. One of the things leptin does is give you a feeling of satiety helping you recognize you’re full, and curbs ghrelin which is a hunger hormone that tells you to eat. We do this with foods that have high “volume” with low calories. Tons of veggies, beans, lentils, legumes for example. They are loaded with water and or fiber, helping to expand your stomach making you feel more full but with very low calorie intake. 

Sleep! Sleep is so important for nearly all aspects of your health, but it has a large direct impact on your hunger. This is because how you sleep dramatically impacts your hormone balance. When you don’t sleep your body not only mistakes exhaustion for hunger, but it also releases hunger hormones like cortisol and ghrelin that prompt you to eat more. When you do get 7 to 8 hours your body releases more HGH which is a hormone that helps burn fat and keep us youthful and it keeps leptin levels high, while keeping ghrelin and cortisol lower. So do not skimp on the sleep!

Hydrate! I’m sure you have heard this one before, but it’s absolutely possible for us to misinterpret feelings of dehydration for hunger so be sure to drink water throughout the day. There is no set amount.Aim to drink enough water so that your pee looks like lemonade. If it’s dark like apple juice you need more water.

Caffeinate! Research shows that organic coffee increases the release of peptide YY (PYY). This hormone is produced in the gut in response to eating and promotes a feeling of fullness and scientists believe that PYY levels play an important role in determining how much you’re likely to eat.

Last, nutrition is key. This one is less likely, but still possible. In some cases we can have nutrient deficiencies that can beget cravings or cause us to feel hungrier. I always go for nutrient dense foods. I supplement with whole foods as well from green super food powders to collagen or whey protein powders. The good thing about the greens is that it has fiber in it, which helps to further fill you up. So be sure to choose nutrient rich foods and if you really want to go the extra mile consider an organic greens supplement that’s high in fiber and nutrient dense.