Eight Ways to Suppress Food Cravings Naturally
If you’re trying to lose weight, one of the biggest obstacles to success is taming food cravings or excess hunger. Thankfully, there are some simple tricks that can suppress your appetite so you can stay on track with reaching your weight loss goals.
#1 Drink More Water
Hunger can often be confused for thirst. Before diving in to a snack, drink a glass of water instead. Wait 15 minutes…you may find that the desire to eat completely goes away. Drinking a glass of water before meals can also naturally suppress your appetite, helping you feel full and cut down on how much you consume.
#2 Load Up on Protein & Fats
Both protein and fat help to curb food cravings, lessen appetite, and prevent overeating. Healthy fats (nuts, full-fat dairy, olives, olive oil, coconut, and avocado) can reduce the desire for unhealthy carbs like sugary cereal or white bread.1 High-quality protein has a similar effect. It makes you feel full and satisfied for longer, reducing the amount you eat or snack between meals.2
#3 Eat More Fiber
Like protein and fat, fiber keeps you full by slowing the digestive process. It also releases hormones that tell your body to stop eating because your stomach is full. Not only that, fiber produces short chain fatty acids in your gut. These further enhance feelings of fullness and satiety. To top it off, most fiber-rich foods also contain many other beneficial ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There’s really very little downside to increasing your fiber intake. The best sources are fruits, veggies, oats, lentils, beans, and whole grains.
#4 Get Enough Sleep
Lack of quality sleep can have many negative effects on your health, including weight gain. The hormones ghrelin and leptin control appetite and hunger cues. (Higher ghrelin levels increase your appetite, while higher leptin levels signal fullness so that you stop eating.) Both hormones are affected by how much sleep you get. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep helps these and other hormones work properly, which keeps your appetite suppressed.
Exercise also can help control appetite and food cravings. Research has found that working out (especially before a meal) can suppress ghrelin and increase leptin.
#6 Chew Gum
The simple act of chewing gum (sugar-free preferably) can cut cravings and appetite. In one study involving 60 participants, those who chewed gym before eating ate 36 fewer calories compared to those who did not chew gum. The researchers wrote, “chewing gum suppressed appetite, specifically desire for sweets and reduced snack intake.”3 Another study of 50 women found that, “Chewing gum intermittently post-lunch enhances perceptions of satiety and may have important implications in reducing afternoon high carbohydrate-snack intake.”4
#7 Slow Down
When you’re hungry, you tend to eat quickly. This is normal; everyone does it. But slowing down the pace at which you eat can keep you from overeating and naturally suppress your appetite. Some research even suggests that the speed that you eat can trigger the release or suppression of hunger and satiety hormones.
#8 Spice Things Up with Ginger
Ginger acts as a natural appetite suppressant by increasing your sense of fullness. While more research needs to be done, one small study of 10 men looked at how many calories were burned after breakfast with and without a ginger beverage included with the meal. The researchers found that the addition of ginger enhanced thermogenesis and reduced feelings of hunger.6 Ginger is really easy to incorporate in your diet. You can chop up fresh ginger root to use in stir-fries and other recipes. You can throw some fresh ginger into hot water and create a tasty tea. Or, if the taste doesn’t appeal to you, you may want to consider taking a ginger supplement.
#9 Drink Green Tea
Green tea is not only delicious, it contains two compounds that aid in weight loss and reducing appetite/food cravings. The first is caffeine, a well-known stimulant that not only boosts fat burning but also suppresses appetite. The other is epigallocatechin (EGCG) which has been shown to increase metabolism and give you the feeling of fullness. If you aren’t a fan of the taste of green tea, supplements are readily available.
#10 Try L-Phenylalanine
Speaking of supplements, one of the best natural appetite suppressants is L-phenylalanine, which is an amino acid (a building block of protein). It works by releasing cholecystokinin (CCK), another hormone that helps you feel full and satisfied. In one study, researchers gave rodents a single dose of phenylalanine. In a separate experiment, obese rodents were given phenylalanine repeatedly over a 7-day timeframe. The rodents that got the single dose ate less and had higher levels of GLP-1 (another hormone that signals feelings of fullness) and lower levels of ghrelin. In this study, the researchers learned that phenylalanine interacts with a receptor called calcium sensing receptor. This is what caused GLP-1 to increase and appetite to decrease.6 Phenylalanine is naturally found in a ton of high-protein foods, like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and gelatin. It is also the main ingredient in Newport Natural Health’s Appetite Control supplement, which in addition to phenylalanine contains vitamin C for immune support, vitamin B6 (which converts phenylalanine to norepinephrine), and vitamin B5 (which converts your food into energy). All of these tips can truly help to reduce appetite, control cravings, and in turn aid in weight loss. Give them a try!
- Harvard School of Public Health. Healthy fats help curb cravings for unhealthy carbs. 2017.
- Westerterp-Plantenga M. Protein intake and energy balance. Regul Pept. 2008 Aug 7;149(1-3):67-9
- Hetherington M and Boyland E. Short-term effects of chewing gum on snack intake and appetite. Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):397-401.
- Park E, at al. Short-term effects of chewing gum on satiety and afternoon snakc intake in healthy weight and obese women. Physiol Behav. 2016 May 15;159:64-71.
- Epel E, et al. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001 Jan;26(1):37-49.
- Mansour M, et al. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study. Metabolism. 2012 Oct; 61(10): 1347–1352.
- Society for Endocrinology. Researchers may have found how high-protein diets cause weight loss. 2016 Nov 8.