6 Ways to Crush Hunger When Losing Weight6/26/20
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. It’s basic fat loss 101.
And, while that might sound simple on the surface, it doesn’t quite prepare you to face the nagging hunger pangs and incessant cravings you might face when trying to lose weight.
It comes as little surprise then when you realize that hunger/cravings are one of the main reasons individuals experience difficulty adhering to a weight loss program long term.
Now, make no mistake, with dieting, there will be inevitable hunger pangs and cravings at one point or another, but there are some things you can do to help lessen the burden and make dieting feel a bit easier (which has the added bonus of helping you stick to it longer).
Join us as we discuss 6 easy ways to help curb hunger and cravings when trying to lose weight.
6 Easy Ways to Crush Hunger When Losing Weight
#1 Pile on the Protein
The importance of protein cannot be stressed enough, especially when dieting for fat loss.
Not only does consuming enough protein help protect against muscle breakdown, it also helps keep you feeling full.
Research has shown protein to be the most satiating of all macronutrients.[1,2]
And when researchers swap traditional high-fat, high-calorie snacks for ones that are higher in protein yet lower in calories, they found that study participants experienced greater feelings of fullness and less hunger.
As an added bonus, protein also requires the most energy to digest of all the macronutrients, which means your body has to burn more calories to break down protein than either fat or carbohydrates. This helps boost energy expenditure, further supporting weight loss.
#2 Eat High-Fiber / High-Volume Foods
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. Highly processed foods (chips, cookies, packaged goods, etc.) are typically stripped of their fiber (and other beneficial micronutrients) during the manufacturing process.
Why is this important?
Well, fiber helps slow the rate of digestion, stretches the stomach, and promotes the release of satiety hormones.
In fact, a 2014 systematic review found that increasing the amount of fiber-rich foods in the diet can improve feelings of fullness by 31%.
Other research indicates that consuming an extra 14 grams of fiber each day may reduce calorie intake by up to 10%.
Fiber also acts as “food” for our gut bacteria which plays an important role in hunger/satiety signaling as well as immune function and mood.
Plus, fiber-containing foods are also typically packed with health-supporting nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Fiber-rich foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes) tend to be lower in calories compared to foods low in fiber.
Some of our favorite high-volume, high-fiber, low-calorie foods are:
- Dark leafy greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Green Beans
#3 Stay Active
Boredom is one of the main reasons people tend to graze or mindlessly snack during the day.
Staying busy can be one of the best ways to keep your mind off of food. Research has shown that exercise (both cardio and resistance training) can help suppress appetite.[6,7]
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be cranking away on the treadmill or elliptical all day long to avoid hunger, but it does help to stay more active than sedentary.
If hunger strikes, and it’s still a while before your next meal, go for a 10-20 minute walk. This will help get your mind off of thinking about food and help quell the hunger beast. The busier you can stay during the day, be it due to work, physical activity, or hanging with friends or family, the less likely you will be to dwell on food.
Frequently, when an individual thinks they are hungry, they may actually be slightly dehydrated.
Based on this, drinking enough fluids during the day may help to reduce feelings of hunger during the day.
Additionally, research has shown that consuming a big glass of water before mealtime can help reduce calorie intake, increase feelings of fullness following a meal, and promote weight loss.
Drinking a big glass of water also helps to physically stretch the stomach, which sends its own fullness signal to the brain.
This is in part why many in the fitness community recommend beginning meals with a broth-based soup. The liquid in the soup is virtually calorie free, but helps stretch the stomach, thereby helping increase satiety.
#5 Eat Spicy Foods
Not only do spicy foods taste delicious and ignite the palate, they can also be an important component of weight loss diets in two ways.
First, eating spicy foods help boost thermogenesis, which increases the number of calories burned.
Second, spicy foods (like ginger and chili peppers) contain fiery alkaloids that may help reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
So, when you’re planning your meals for the week, consider adding some spicy fare to your menu. It may help you burn more calories and feel more full following mealtime!
One of the easiest ways to do this is to add some spicy tomato salsa to your dishes. Salsa (especially the homemade variety) is very low in calories, yet packed with flavor and heat!
#6 Get Enough Sleep
The importance of sleep when it comes to dieting cannot be emphasized enough.
Simply put, sleep deprivation has a number of undesired effects as it pertains to weight loss, including:
- Lack of motivation to exercise
- Decreased focus
- Decreased athletic performance (which means you burn less calories during training)
- Disrupts energy metabolism
- Increases hunger (particularly for high-calorie fare)
- Reduces satiety
- Increases stress (which can also make you want to eat more)
Moreover, research shows that not getting enough sleep can increase feelings of hunger up to 24%, and decrease levels of satiety hormones by up to 26%.
Research has also shown a link between chronic sleep deprivation and obesity.[12,13]
If you need help getting better quality sleep, try:
- Establishing a bedtime routine
- Limiting blue light exposure 2 hours prior to bed
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the hours leading up to sleep
- Consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal as your final meal of the evening
- Drinking non-caffeinated herbal tea
Hunger is an expected and natural part of dieting, but it doesn’t have to consume you nor does it have to cause you to abandon your diet.
Use the tips outlined above to help keep hunger at bay and stick to your diet to get the results you want!
- Morell, P., & Fiszman, S. (2017). Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. Food Hydrocolloids, 68, 199–210.https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodhyd.2016.08.003
- Ortinau, L.C., Hoertel, H.A., Douglas, S.M. et al. Effects of high-protein vs. high- fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women. Nutr J 13, 97 (2014).https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-97
- Wynne K, Stanley S, McGowan B, Bloom S. Appetite control. J Endocrinol. 2005;184(2):291-318. doi:10.1677/joe.1.05866
- Li, S.S., Kendall, C.W., de Souza, R.J., Jayalath, V.H., Cozma, A.I., Ha, V., Mirrahimi, A., Chiavaroli, L., Augustin, L.S., Blanco Mejia, S., Leiter, L.A., Beyene, J., Jenkins, D.J. and Sievenpiper, J.L. (2014), Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of acute feeding trials. Obesity, 22: 1773-1780. doi:10.1002/oby.20782
- Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001;59(5):129-139. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb07001.x
- Schubert MM, Sabapathy S, Leveritt M, Desbrow B. Acute exercise and hormones related to appetite regulation: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014;44(3):387-403. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0120-3
- Broom, D. R., Batterham, R. L., King, J. A., & Stensel, D. J. (2009). Influence of resistance and aerobic exercise on hunger, circulating levels of acylated ghrelin, and peptide YY in healthy males. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 296(1), R29–R35. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.90706.2008
- Muckelbauer R, Sarganas G, Grüneis A, Müller-Nordhorn J. Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(2):282-299. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.055061
- Corney RA, Sunderland C, James LJ. Immediate pre-meal water ingestion decreases voluntary food intake in lean young males. Eur J Nutr. 2016;55(2):815-819. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-0903-4
- Ludy MJ, Moore GE, Mattes RD. The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. Chem Senses. 2012;37(2):103-121. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjr100
- Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med. 2004;141(11):846-850. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-141-11-200412070-00008
- Buxton OM, Marcelli E. Short and long sleep are positively associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease among adults in the United States. Soc Sci Med. 2010;71(5):1027-1036. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.05.041
- Knutson KL, Van Cauter E. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1129:287-304. doi:10.1196/annals.1417.033