How do you limit hunger? It’s a question that I get a lot, and it’s even something I have personally struggled with over the years.
Hunger comes and goes, but when it comes it can quickly get out of control. Dealing with hunger is about not only what you eat, but how regularly you eat it, and in what amounts.
That’s why, today, I’m going to profile 13 unique ways for you to not feel so hungry. Trust me, after you give this a read, you’ll likely have a much better handle on your hunger.
1. Getting Adequate Protein
Lots of data has shown that our feeling “filled up” is largely based on protein intake. This is a determinant factor that is more powerful than our caloric intake.
What that means is that, if the foods you’re eating are low in protein you won’t feel full until you eat enough of them. The protein quells hunger, not simply the calories (Click Here: Leveraging Protein for Easy Weight Loss).
The more often you have foods that are dense in protein, the more quickly you feel full.
This has been shown in other ways, too. When calories are equal, protein foods have the largest impact upon satiety (more than others).
Other relevant factors include stabilizing your blood sugar for longer periods of time. For some of us, those out-of-control food cravings that defy hunger come from those drops in blood sugar.
So, there’s eating enough protein, but there is also regularly getting protein into your diet. In terms of your blood sugar, the latter is more important.
Bottom Line: Protein also has a great deal of influence on body composition (muscle mass). The more you have good muscle mass, the more it will also regulate your blood sugar and burn more calories passively.
2. Introducing Resistant Starch
Much like protein, resistant starch helps steady the blood sugar (Click Here: Everything About Resistant Starch). More specifically, it does that by making a coating around the intestinal to delay food being absorbed.
It’s kind of a paradox, because it helps you absorb minerals better and more efficiently, but dense calories in a way that is more gradual.
We get this from foods such as:
- Under-ripened Bananas
All of these are great sources of resistant starch!
Bottom Line: Both protein and resistant starch are fantastic for hunger when you begin the day with them. When you have them early on, during your first meal, they can affect the next 24-hour cycle in your body.
3. Monitoring Food Frequency
For quite some time, the predominant advice was that if you ate often, that by itself would magically allow you to lose weight.
Well, that didn’t pan out as hoped. So, eating ten times a day won’t help you drop those pounds any faster, but there may be a food frequency better suited to your body.
If your hunger and cravings are out of control, you should feel free to experiment with how often you eat. A few more frequent meals may help you curb that hunger.
Personally, my sweet spot is around six meals per day. I’ll have the main three, followed by:
- An extra meal after a workout in the morning
- A mid-morning snack
- A mid-afternoon snack
- Fruit or vegetables before bed
You should feel free to play with your food frequency. On top of that, though, consider some of the other rules just discussed, like getting more protein into those meals.
Basically, if eating more frequently allows you to better control your weight, you should go for it.
Key Insight: However, it is also worth noting that the food quantities still matter greatly. When you’re eating more frequently, if those aren’t in smaller amounts, it won’t work. The math just won’t add up the way you may want it to!
4. Pre-Meal Hydration
Before a meal, having a good intake of water might just be the key to feeling fuller. In fact, whenever I talk about this subject I always get a little thirsty!
You should shoot for a solid half quart to one quart of water. Try and drink all of it in the 15 minutes before you enjoy your next meal.
Simply watch and see how quickly you fill up! There has been data suggesting that our satiety is also affected by total volume. This relates to the volume of stuff in our stomach.
That’s basically an argument for foods that are high in fiber, but also water in general. There are also times where “thirst cues” may feel like “hunger cues.”
That means that when you’re feeling hungry, you may be really feeling thirsty! If you find yourself with a large craving, try a big glass of water and a couple minutes of rest. It might just change whether or not you still feel like eating.
5. First Meal Timing
So, as discussed, I talked about protein and resistant starch acting as strong pieces of the puzzle when it comes to your first meal.
That said, timing can also play its own part. If you are struggling with cravings, you should test having your first meal within an hour of waking.
There is good data suggesting that this practice can improve your cortisol awakening response. This can be a factor when it comes to your HPA axis.
Basically, your body has better control over stress regulation when you have a meal soon after waking up. While some can do well with skipping that first, those who are prone to cravings should consider working it into their routine.
6. Fiber Categories
It’s not just about how many grams of fiber, in total, that you’re getting, but how many categories of fiber you have consumed throughout the day.
To get to that point, think about it in terms of food categories. Fiber comes from plant foods, so the first thing you should consider is improving your plant food categories.
Think about lots of vegetables in the following categories:
- High-sulphur vegetables
- APACA vegetables (parsnips, carrots, parsley)
Then, you can turn your attention toward some key fruits:
We also have nuts and seeds (not only together, but separately, too). That, along with beans and legumes, can help you get the right mix on a daily basis.
Lastly, I definitely want to touch on intact whole grains. This could include:
- Brown rice
Basically, you’ll want to think of combinations of those to ensure you’re getting the right mix amongst multiple fiber categories.
Not only is this considered the ticket to a healthy flora, which is key to overall health in general, but it can help you fight against cravings. The diversity here is key!
7. Produce Intake
If you are hungry, and it’s quickly getting out of control, have some of what we call “unlimited foods” at your disposal.
Kirin has made so many amazing recipes including all these unlimited foods. They include all the foods you want and the same foods that can just help you a bunch.
Using these unlimited foods, you really, truly fill up fast.
8. Reducing Caffeine Intake
For many people, a few cups of coffee or tea in a day is completely harmless. There may even be some health benefits that they are gaining from it.
On the other hand, there are a lot of us who get cravings from just as much as one cup of coffee or tea in the morning.
The reason that caffeine boosts your energy is because it raises your blood sugar. It is like a stress response in your body, and it pulls glucose out of stores and raises it in your bloodstream.
Even if you don’t have sugar in your coffee, when you have coffee you have sugar in your system. For a lot of us, it has the same effect, too!
Key Insight: First, you get a spike, followed by a drop. Caffeine is no different, in this regard, because just like sugar it only sets you up for future cravings down the road.
If you have coffee and tea all the time, along with strong cravings, give it a shot and see how you do without it. Know that it may take upwards of three weeks for your body to adjust and for you to see some real results.
9. Getting Enough Sleep
There have been a number of well-researched, well-understood studies that one poor night of sleep can make someone look diabetic.
In fact, it can make their blood sugar go all over the place. So, you’ll want to prioritize sleep to ensure your blood sugar always remains stable.
There is an argument for the sleep you get in the earliest portions of the night. Before midnight, this type of sleep may be more powerful and helpful than the sleep you get later on in the night.
So, my advice to you is to sleep often and sleep early!
10. Exercise Properly
Exercise is beautiful for multiple reasons. That’s because having it a lot in your life can dramatically change many things.
Think about it in terms of structured exercise, but also in terms of breaking up times when you’re otherwise stationary.
It all starts with cultivating good habits. On days when you’re sitting a lot, which for many of us is throughout the day, you’re getting up at least once an hour.
The pitfall about exercise is that, if you really have food cravings and train harder and harder, you may end up craving even more food.
Key Insight: That threshold may be around 400-500 calories of exercise per day. That’s a fairly intense level of exercise, more than an hour a day, so if you’re under that it likely won’t be a factor.
Know that, though, if you struggle with cravings you may need to over fuel. Believe it or not, more exercise can make it harder to manage your cravings!
11. Satiety Effects From Foods
This is really fascinating stuff. I have even heard from some people that there are certain foods which simply fill you up for longer.
But, are these kinds of tidy, exact time frames reliable? One study that I want to mention gave rise to what we can call the “Satiety Index.”
Here’s an image of what it looks like:
A higher satiety index means that a set volume of one food will fill you up for longer than the same caloric volume of a different food. A low measure on the index means that you ate that food and you were hungry soon thereafter.
The above chart is a list of foods that, when compared to white bread, has its own unique score on the satiety index.
When you glance at it, the numbers can be self-explanatory in some instances. Things like cake, crackers have a low score because you are hungry shortly after eating them.
On the other hand, foods that had more protein, starch, fiber, and water had the highest satiety scores. That’s not necessarily surprising given everything we talked about today, but it ties everything together very nicely.
In fact, you can see that boiled potatoes are right at the top of the list! That’s resistant starch in action, and yet another reason why they would make for a great addition to your diet.
If you struggle with food cravings, think about adding some of these high-satiety foods to your diet. They may be able to help.
12. Limit Processed Foods
Dr. Kevin Hall did a really great study in which people were allowed to eat as much as they wished. One group was given mostly processed foods, while the other was given a collection of very unprocessed foods.
Eating as much as they wanted, those in the processed foods camp ate more than 500 calories per day more than those with unprocessed foods before they filled up.
So, think about how much you might be getting in terms of whole foods and processed foods.
13. Diversify Food “Tastes”
This one is interesting. You might want to start thinking about the different kinds of “tastes” that you’re getting from your food.
We have data suggesting that when we have sweet, salty, or fatty foods, we become somewhat numb to those same tastes. They become less potent on our palate.
Therefore, we begin to demand more of them in order to feel satisfied. It almost becomes something of an addiction, where the more we have the more we continue to want.
This is essentially the science behind having a “sweet tooth.”
However, there are tastes which counter this and include:
- Sour – Think of rye breads and vinegars
- Bitter – Things like herbal teas or culinary herbs (turmeric)
- Astringent – A drying effect found in unripe bananas
- Starchy – Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!
- Umami – Bonito flakes, for instance (Read More: Umami)
Feel Less Hungry Starting Today
So, there we have it. We’ve profiled 13 ways that you can start feeling less hungry, in both ways that are sustainable and good for your long-term health.
Please — feel free to try any of these, and I hope they make a difference in your life. If you’re interested in other things benefiting your health, try taking the Thyroid Quiz (Click Here: Take The Quiz) today.
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
3. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.