Dieting can be really hard if all you keep thinking about is food, and then the hunger pangs aren’t helping at all either.
Luckily there are ways to control your appetite to improve diet adherence. Some people might think that hunger is just a signal from the body that it needs more food, despite the fact that plenty of food is already eaten. If plenty of food is already eaten and hunger still occurs, despite weight gain, the body is not optimally utilizing the foods that it is receiving and/or utilizing the stores that it already has. In such a situation, fixing metabolic efficiency is priority number one, so that the food that is eaten it properly utilized and not stored. When the body is metabolically efficient, there should be no hunger if enough calories are consumed to support the metabolic rate, and there should also be no weight gain.
If you are eating plenty, but are still hungry, yet not gaining weight, you don’t have to worry about the added hunger. This usually just indicates a fast metabolism.
Here are 16 effective ways to reduce your hunger:
1) Avoid Blue Light
Artificial blue light at night causes glucose intolerance (1). To offset this, use blue light blocker glasses to filter out the blue light. Also consider getting blue light filters on your phone and PC/laptop, such as f.lux.
Ginger antagonizes the serotonin receptor, 5-HT3, which synergistically increases metabolism and energy expenditure with other β-adrenoceptor agonists, such as caffeine, bitter orange extract, etc. Ginger also promotes satiety (2) and lowers blood glucose, HbA1c and improves insulin sensitivity (3).
3) Sleep enough
Sleep deprivation increases ghrelin (which stimulates appetite), reduces leptin (which reduces appetite), elevates cortisol, lowers testosterone and promotes weight gain (4). Be sure to get at least 8 hours of good sleep per night. Blue light at night also lowers melatonin and reduces sleep quality.
4) Improve insulin sensitivity
In this case study, a boy with severe insulin resistance, but not hypoglycemia, had a persistent ravenous appetite (5). Insulin resistance can cause your body to think it’s not getting enough food, as the carbs are not being utilized, and this would promote hunger. Fixing it, as well as increasing glucose oxidation, would help greatly.
Histidine is the precursor amino acid to histamine. Histamine activates the H1 receptor which decreases appetite. However, if you already have high histamine, focus on boosting your thyroid, as histamine and thyroid are inversely correlated and thyroid increases histamine sensitivity, which should help control your symptoms.
6) High carbohydrate diet
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s been found that a high carb diet, but not high fat or protein, reduces hunger hormones most effectively, while increasing alertness and fullness (6, 7). This, however, is not very helpful when someone is insulin resistant, but that doesn’t mean someone has to stay away from carbs when improving insulin sensitivity, as carbs are most effective at stopping the stress response, which is needed to restore insulin sensitivity.
The fructose in sugar and fruit also increases dopamine and orexin, which activates brown fat and promotes thermogenesis and energy expenditure (8).
7) Increase body temperature
This can be done by boosting thyroid hormones, increasing catecholamines and/or increasing uncoupling. Increasing body temperature activates the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the hypothalamus, which contains TPVR1 receptors that reduce hunger (9). Caffeine, methylene blue, nicotine, aspirin, saturated fat, thyroid hormones, etc., are all great uncouplers. More on increasing uncoupling here…
Here is a nice uncoupling cocktail that can be used twice daily:
- 2-5g ginger root
- 4-600mg caffeine
- 30mg methylene blue (test your tolerance to methylene blue first with small doses)
- 1g aspirin
8) MCT oil
MCT oil promotes satiety more effectively than any other fat, as well as coconut oil (10). MCT oil consumption at breakfast significantly reduces the number of calories consumed at lunch by lowering appetite (11).
Eggs increase the satiety hormone, PYY (12), lower blood glucose and ghrelin, reduce subsequent total daily energy intake and enhance fat loss (13, 14, 15). Eggs for breakfast will reduce hunger and food consumption at lunch, similar to MCT oil. These two would go synergistically together.
Coffee consumption reduces appetite in a dose-dependent manner, with 6 cups daily being more effective than 3 cups (16). This might be due to increased liquid consumption that is suppressing hunger and also the fact that coffee, but not caffeine, increases the satiety hormone, peptide YY (PYY) (17).
Small doses of caffeine, 1-3mg/kg per body weight didn’t reduce appetite (18), but the combination of 800mg of caffeine with 6g of red pepper results in ∼880 kcal lower daily energy intake (19). Caffeine and capsaicin (the hot substance in peppers) synergistically promote satiety, energy expenditure and uncoupling.
11) Brewer’s yeast
Yeast is a great source of B-vitamins, protein and also chromium, which helps to stabilize blood sugar, reduce hunger and help with fat loss (20).
In this study, 500mg of yeast hydrolysate (YH; an extract produced from 100% brewers yeast) supplementation helped with weight loss compared to the placebo group, due to reduced energy intake, indicating greater satiety (21). The YH also inhibits lipogenic enzymes such as glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase (that generates NADPH for fatty acid synthase), malic enzyme as well as reduces ghrelin.
Brewer’s yeast chromium is also much better retained in the body than other chromium sources (22).
Some people, however, do gain no benefit from chromium supplementation, and this might be due to the fact that they’re deficient in vitamin B3, as these two go synergistically together to stabilize blood sugar and reduce appetite.
But just be aware that brewer’s yeast is also a source of estrogen (23).
12) Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 facilitates the complete catabolism of fatty acids (by providing lots of coenzyme A) and thus circumvents the formation of ketone bodies. As a result, a sufficient amount of energy would be released from storage fat to relieve dieters of the sensation of hunger and weakness which otherwise would be difficult to endure (24).
LitHung Leung from Hong Kong uses up to 10g per day for his patients while on a very low-calorie diet. All his patients, without exception, report an increase in energy and general well-being as well as a reduction in appetite.
13) γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)
GABA is synthesized from the amino acid glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory amino acid that stimulates hunger, whereas GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that suppresses hunger. The ingestion of GABA (via direct supplementation or other promotors) suppresses hunger by binding to the GABA-A receptor and to a lesser extent the GABA-B receptor (25, 26).
Combine GABA with dopamine, and you’ll be able to easily say no to unhealthy, tasty and easy to obtainable foods.
Boost GABA with vitamin B1, niacinamide, glycine, taurine, valerian root, ashwagandha, lemongrass, theanine, kava kava, allopregnanolone, phenibut, zinc (decreases glutamate and increased GABA), etc.
14) Antagonize Opioids and Cannabinoids
Activation of the endocannabinoid and opioid receptors increase hunger and weight gain. Antagonism of these receptors reduces food intake (27).
Prolonged cardio (which releases endorphins), beta-casomorphin (found in A1 milk), gluten, THC, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol increases opioids and promotes hunger.
So the best things to lower opioids is to eat a low PUFA diet (PUFAs create anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol), avoid cardio, don’t drink A1 milk and don’t smoke weed.
15) Fix nutritional deficiencies
This might be a tough one, and you might have to do blood tests or a hair mineral tests to see what you are deficient in or have an excess of. When there is a micronutrient deficiency in the body, it will start to crave foods that are rich in that nutrient, and most of the time it will be unhealthy food, because most people have low thyroid function and low dopamine (people with low dopamine crave more unhealthy foods). Sometimes the body will sense there is a deficiency, which is causing a metabolic dysregulation, and will then increase hunger, so that food in general is eaten, and not just food that contains the missing nutrients.
So it might be very important to log your foods into cronometer, which will show you how much of each micronutrient you’re consuming, and then you’ll know what foods to eat more or less of. But sometimes people still have a stubborn deficiency in some vitamins or minerals, and then supplementation is needed. This is where tests come in, to help identify those deficiencies so proper supplementation can be used.
16) Eat soups
Soups in general can be very filling, while still containing low calories, but be full of micronutrients. A quick recipe is to throw lots of chicken/beef (meat with the bone and cartilage on), low to medium GI veggies and chicken or beef stock/gelatin into a pot/slow cooker/pressure cooker, add water and boil/simmer for a few hours. This should provide a few big bulk meals that will provide lots of nutrients that will make you very full, yet not overload you with calories.
17) Lower serotonin
Serotonin induces hyperactive feeding (overfeeding/constant hunger) because it inhibits AMPK (28). Lowering serotonin reduces hyperphagia back to normal. More on lowering serotonin here…
Morning snack to reduce appetite:
- Ginger tea: 2-5g ginger root (thin slices or grated) + 1tbsp honey + juice from ½ squeezed lemon + 1tbsp gelatin
- 2-3 boiled eggs
Option 2: (milkshake)
- 2-5g ginger caps / 5g of fresh ginger root
- 1-2 cups milk
- 2-4 raw eggs
- 1-2tbsp honey
- 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1-2tbsp gelatin
- 1-2tbsp MCT oil
- 1-2 scoops casein