25 Science-Backed Ways on How to Curb Hunger
How do you feel when hunger strikes you? Do you know how to curb hunger, or you feel stuck in the uneven battle between your mind and your gut?
On the one hand, hunger is an all-natural sign. Dating back to thousands of years ago, our ancestors were meat-hunters not because of anything else but the need to satisfy hunger and bring food which can feed the entire family. (1)
But as the human race keeps evolving, it seems that one of the biggest challenges we are about to face is how to feed the fast-growing world population. (2) On a personal level, though, fighting with the urge to eat ASAP is no less challenging.
What Dorothy Allison wrote about hunger all the way back in 1949 keeps being relevant up to date – almost one century later. (3)
“Hunger makes you restless. You dream about food — not just any food, but perfect food, the best food, magical meals, famous and awe-inspiring, the one piece of meat, the exact taste of buttery corn, tomatoes so ripe they split and sweeten the air, beans so crisp they snap between the teeth, gravy like mother’s milk singing to your bloodstream.”
Below, we have compiled the top 25 science-backed up ways on how to curb hunger. So what are you waiting for? Read on and learn how to decrease your appetite permanently.
#1 – Stay Well-Hydrated
According to a study featured by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “…  consumption of a 568 ml water preload immediately before a meal reduces energy intake in non-obese young males... ” (4)
Even though this particular study involved male participants, the conclusions of the research can be attributed to females just as well.
And indeed, filling up on water before a meal is capable of bringing you the sense of fullness. That’s because of the way water helps to stretch the stomach, making your gut send signals to your brain indicating that appetite has been suppressed successfully. (5)
#2 – Embrace Dark Chocolate
Not only that eating dark chocolate can suppress your hunger but even the mere act of smelling a piece of dark chocolate can trick your body into thinking that you have already consumed the delicious bittersweet treat. (6)
The amazing study was conducted by experts from the Department of Internal Medicine, Reinier de Graaf Group of Hospitals, Delft, The Netherlands. The goal of the study was “…  to explore the relationship between appetite and levels of gastrointestinal hormones after smelling chocolate… ”
The good news is that you can just as well choose to indulge in a piece of dark chocolate without feeling guilty. (7)
#3 – Protein is Your Best Friend
Although this one comes as no surprise, consuming enough protein is, indeed, one of the best ways to keep cravings at bay for an extended and consistent period of time. (10)
According to a study conducted by experts in Human Biology from the Maastricht University, the Netherlands, “…  The intake of 1·2 g/kg BW is beneficial to body composition and improves blood pressure… ” (11) That means protein should ideally take about 30% of your daily calorie intake to promote a feeling of fullness and, subsequently, smart weight management.
Nevertheless, a protein-rich breakfast is also proved to “…  reduce food cravings, prevent overeating later… ” based on the research results revealed by experts from the University of Missouri-Columbia. (12)
#4 – Forget about Large Plates
Now, that’s an interesting twist you most probably haven’t considered so far!
According to research conducted by the Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York “…  when nutrition experts were given a larger bowl, they served themselves 31.0% more without being aware of it. Their servings increased by 14.5% when they were given a larger serving spoon… ” (13)
Another clever way to use the size of your portions to curb hunger and increase feelings of fullness is to aim for “…  Replacing high-calorie foods with healthier low-calorie ones… ” according to a 10-month study which included 189 patients. (14)
For example, you simply need to replace 1 cup of rice with a ½ cup of rice and a full cup of broccoli (or any other favorite veggie option of yours). Last but not least, consider healthy substitutes for flavoring your veggies instead of store-bought sauces and dips. (15)
#5 – Take Your Beauty Sleep
You might have heard this before but getting enough sleep is the gateway towards improving your health and general well-being.
What’s more, making sure that you sleep for at least 6 hours each day will decrease your chances of fighting with obesity with the mind-blowing 55%. (16) You need to keep in mind, though, that both short and long sleep can be damaging, so it is all about balance. (17)
Interestingly enough, studies show that not getting enough sleep increases hunger in a similar way that marijuana does. (18)
#6 – Snack Smart
Hunger can often lead to binge eating or snacking on any kind of foods which you have handy. However, binge eating is also associated with the so-called Binge Eating Disorder, which is estimated to affect only as little as 1-5% of Americans. (19)
In any case, though, opting for a healthy snack instead of an unhealthy alternative is the best way to limit your cravings while still satisfying your hunger. For this purpose, you can try opting for foods which have high nutritional value, such as nuts, seeds, and popcorn. (20)
On another note, protein-rich snacks can also help to curb hunger and prevent overeating later on. (21)
#7 – Fiber, Fiber, and Some More Fiber
Much like the way water helps to stretch the stomach and increase the feeling of fullness, foods rich in fiber can act in a similar way to suppress hunger. (22)
But what’s more, scientists confirm that fiber helps to produce a particular chemical, known as acetate, which is related to changes in the brain cells which control hunger. (23)
Nevertheless, a high fiber diet can help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. (26)
#8 – Master Mindful Eating
Do you want to know how to decrease appetite and increase metabolism simultaneously? If so, then mastering mindful eating might be the secret key to the portal of health and long-term weight management. (27)
Interestingly, is you tend to eat too quickly, you might be blocking your brain from registering the much-needed feeling of fullness, also known as satiety.
Thus, in order to eat mindfully, you want to eat slowly, enjoying every bite while letting enough time to pass before your gut signalizes to your brain that you are already full. (28)
Meanwhile, preparing your food can also help in the process of curbing hunger if you choose to intentionally let your eyes indulge in the texture, smell, and even the sound of cooking the food you are about to consume. (29)
#9 – Give Chopsticks a Try
Ultimately, it turns out that using chopsticks further helps to curb hunger and increase the feeling of fullness. (32)
According to Kimiko Barber who is the author of “The Chopsticks Diet” “…  Eating with chopsticks slows you down, and so you eat less… ”
Video by Joanna Soh Official – Why Asians Are Slimmer (9 Weight-Loss Tips)
In the case you eat food fast (which speeds up when using forks or spoons and worsens depending on the size of the fork/spoon you use), your brain needs approximately 20 minutes before registering the signals of fullness from your stomach. (33) (34)
#10 – Worry Less
One of the best lessons you can learn about how to suppress appetite without food is hidden in lowering the levels of stress in your life. (35) In fact, there is much more to the phrase stress eating than what meets the eye at the very first sight.
Video by CBS This Morning – The science behind stress eating
According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, ¼ of the Americans rate the daily stress levels like 8 and more on a 10-point basis. (36)
Furthermore, stress is linked to the release of the hormone called cortisol which can lead to an increase in food cravings. (37)
Apart from that, high levels are stress are associated with another hormone, namely peptide YY. Contrary to cortisol level, stress causes the levels of peptide YY to decrease, which leads to feeling less full, and hence satisfied after a meal. (38) (39) (40)
#11 – Chew More
In a nutshell, chewing your food more helps to burn more calories than eating fast and chewing less. (41) But what about the science behind learning how to curb hunger and dedicating more time to chewing your food?
According to Dr. Richard Mattes who is a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, West Lafayette “…  The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body… ” referring to the energy we gain through eating food. (42)
What’s more, research confirms that chewing helps to decrease appetite, even though this effect only lasts for a while. (43)
Video by TEDx Talks – Chew 32 times to lose weight: Sandeep Maheshwari at TEDxIIMRanchi
#12 – Spice Up
Experts state that particular spices which are widely used in the traditional Asian and Indian cuisine are actually much more than natural appetite suppressants.
Video by NaturalHealingGuides – 25 Best Indian & Chinese Natural Weight Loss Herbs & Spices To Reduce Appetite & Suppress Hunger
In fact, spicing up your meals can lead to a mighty metabolism boost. Moreover, exotic spices can even block fat cells from reappearing in order to help patients with weight management in the long run. (44)
For instance, the compound which can be found in chili peppers, namely Capsaicin, helps to promote the so-called negative energy balance. That means you will burn more calories while possibly consuming less food than usual.
What’s more, even those of you who cannot consume spicy food due to medical or psychological barriers can still take advantage of the amazing negative energy balance. For this purpose, opt for consuming sweet peppers, which are rich in Capsiate. Capsiate is considered the “…  nonpungent capsaicin analog…  ” (45)(46)
#13 – Short, Intense Workouts
Devoting as little as 15 minutes of your time too short, high-intensity workouts can turn out to be a better working alternative to curb appetite pills. (47)
However, research points out to 2 different possible effects of working out on your body’s ability to suppress hunger.
On the one hand, scientists confirm that exercise decreases the hormone called Ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite stimulator, and hence decreasing the levels of Ghrelin is associated with curbing hunger and appetite. (48)
On the other hand, a research featured by The Endocrine Society highlights the fact that the effect of workouts to decrease Ghrelin doesn’t apply to women who are already obese. (49)
So where is the golden middle? According to Lara Dugas who is a researcher at Loyola University Chicago “The harder you exercise, the more blood you’re pulling away from the gut and the less hungry you’re going to feel.” (50)
Video by The Health Nerd – What is HIIT? 7 Proven HIIT Benefits and How to Do It Properly
#14 – Work Your Waistline
Workouts which target belly fat and love handles can actually be much more beneficial to reducing your cravings, appetite, as well as overall weight than what you think.
That’s because of a hormone called Neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptide Y is closely related to stimulating appetite. Thus, high levels of this particular hormone can influence and increase hunger dramatically. (51)(52)
Researchers have found an intriguing correlation between high levels of Neuropeptide Y and body fat, located in the waistline zone. (53)
Video by Gabriella Whited – TINY WAIST WORKOUT (1 WEEK RESULTS!) SHAPE YOUR TUMMY
#15 – Opt for Decaffeinated Coffee
All in all much has been said about the benefits of coffee for boosting sports performance. On the one hand, caffeine stimulates the brain in such a way that you can feel more energetic, wiping away fatigue. (54)
On the other hand, research confirms that caffeine helps to improve endurance. (55)
Most noteworthy, studies show that coffee increases the secretion of a hormone, known as peptide YY. In brief, Peptide YY promotes the feeling of fullness. (56)
Ultimately, researchers suggest that drinking decaffeinated coffee is most likely to produce a more long-lasting effect on hunger reduction. (57)
#16 – Use Your Imagination
Eric Robinson is one of the many psychologists who investigate the subtle psychological factors related to appetite, hunger, and the amount of food we consume.
Thus, instead of turning towards the science behind the way your body functions when it comes to cravings and food habits, Robinson suggests that you look deeper into your brain for hidden answers. (58)
Surprisingly, another study reveals that “…  imagining the consumption of food actually significantly decreased the desire to consume it,” – says Carey Morewedge, who is an assistant professor of social and decision sciences. (59)
#17 – Consume Natural Appetite Suppressors
If you’re trying to figure out how to lose appetite completely in a safe and natural way, then certain appetite suppressors provided by Mother Nature might be the key. (60)
Secondly, appetite suppressors can further assist in curbing cravings, as well as burning more calories instead of storing these in the form of fat.
Video by The Health Nerd – How to STOP Cravings | 8 Natural Appetite Suppressants That Work
#18 – Be Careful with Sweeteners
According to a report published in the journal Cell Metabolism, “…  the mismatch between sweet taste and fewer calories sends the body into “feed me” mode… ”
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the study was conducted by examining the effects of sweeteners and cravings in fruit flies and mice. (63)
On another note, despite the fact that more studies are needed before the effect of sweeteners and the so-called “feed me” mode is attributed to humans, too, it’s vital to regulating this possible action. Hence, don’t rely solely on sweeteners when trying to reduce your cravings. (64)
Instead, go for natural substitutes such as Maple syrup, agave syrup, and honey, which are beneficial to health in numerous ways. But beware that you need to consume these in moderation to avoid gaining weight. (65)(66)(67)
#19 – Give up on Highly Processed Foods
Our food cravings are governed by areas of the brain, which are in charge of memory, pleasure, and reward. (68)
That’s also linked to the fact that we have a proposition to palatable foods, which means we are much more likely to crave foods which deliver intensified sensations to our taste buds. (71)
As highly processed food are rich in salt, artificial flavors, and additives, as well as preservatives, you end up making your brain reliable on the taste of these particular foods each time you choose to indulge in your favorite store-bought chips, snacks, and fizzy drinks, among others.
#20 – Seek Pleasure Away from Food
Thus, instead of finding the pleasure in eating more and more, you can try to concentrate your thoughts towards another source of pleasure, such as a favorite leisure activity, hobby, meditation, or even a meaningful conversation. (76)
For instance, you can also think about the term comfort food. Comfort food increases the feeling of safety in humans, even though these feelings are nothing but a projection of your brain rather than anything which can be found in reality. (77)
#21 – Leave Temptations Out of the House
According to Brian Wansink who is the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, “Our homes are filled with hidden eating traps.”
While attending a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Wansink also advised that we pay attention to making the environment work in our favor. (78)
For instance, Wansink suggests that you store healthy food at an eye level and to keep unhealthy food away from your sight. (79)
The takeaway message? The shortcut to avoiding temptations and curbing your hunger is to simply make sure you leave unhealthy foods out of the house!
Video by Igniter Media – The Marshmallow Test
#22 – Keep a Journal
Studies suggest an interesting point of view on curbing hunger and eating healthier, which is as simple as it sounds – just keep a food journal!
Certainly, smartphone diaries can help you track and log your food intake in the blink of an eye, without anybody even suspecting what you are doing. Plus, there is no need to feel limited since you can browse your smartphone even in the public transport, right?
#23 – Stack up on Almonds
According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding 1.5 ounces of almonds as part of your daily meals is reported to reduce hunger. (82)
But what’s more, the study pointed out to another amazing benefit of adding almonds to your diet. It turns out that taking 1.5 ounces of almonds per day can also help you eat less throughout the entire course of the day. (83)
Additionally, Richard Mattes who is a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, says that almonds can be a perfect snack option. (84)
If you want to enjoy the most of almonds’ superpowers to improve your health and curb hunger, soak them overnight before you proceed with consuming your daily dosage.
Video by Natural Ways – If You Eat Soaked Almonds Every Morning Before Breakfast, This Will Happen To You
#24 – Do it the Japanese Way
Whatever we say about the Japanese and their unique ways of making the most from what Mother Nature has to offer, we will most probably never be able to reach the Japanese level of dedication and awareness.
However, we can greatly benefit from the Japanese ways in order to curb hunger, and doing so doesn’t have to be complicated.
Nevertheless, studies also show that Genistein is able to lower your food intake throughout the day, and not only in the short run. Certainly, the fact that tofu is high in protein is another reason why this healthy superfood is such a mighty curb-appetite secret weapon. (87)(88)
#25 – Give Appetite Suppressant Supplements a Try
Fortunately, living in the 21st century is related to reaping the benefits of the massive boom in science and technology.
Thus, you can easily take advantage of appetite suppressant supplements to help you control your cravings and appetite efficiently.
Finally, do not hesitate to ask for professional guidance before you proceed with taking appetite suppressant supplements.
The Final Breakdown
Irwin Van Grove has a wise sum up about hunger which goes as it follows: “Hunger: One of the few cravings that cannot be appeased with another solution.”
All in all, trying to stay away from your cravings is not an easy mission. Ultimately, it requires a lot of patience, understanding, and will. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to always put health on the top of your priorities.
With this in mind, do not neglect the natural signals of your body, which include hunger, and make sure you consult a qualified physician in the case you have any medical concerns.
Finally, keep our compilation of the top 25 science-backed up ways on how to curb hunger handy, and you will be one step closer to embracing a healthier, happier life!