27 Jun Hunger Tricks: Seven Ways To Reduce Hunger and Cravings When Dieting
If you want to get in condition, you have to accept that at some point, you will be hungry. There’s no real way around it.
You have to either find ways to deal with it, or pay the price, binge and stay where you are, or worse, regress. While I struggle to relate to the latter, I know it’s something people struggle with a lot. To me, when people cheat on the diet it’s a sign they just don’t want it bad enough, and their why isn’t big enough.
What I’m going to cover in this article is some tips I use with clients and myself to best combat hunger pangs and keep cravings to a minimum when dieting.
We all know things like managing stress, drinking lots of water, eating your veggies and getting enough sleep is an important part of hunger management.
So today we’ll go over some of the lesser known strategies that can make a difference in how you feel day to day when dieting hard.
TIP 1: Drink Green Tea and/or Coffee
Besides the vast number of health benefits green tea and coffee provide, it also works great as an appetite suppressant. For anyone in the last stages of dieting, it makes for the perfect drink.
How does it work?
A number of mechanisms may be at work in their role as an appetite suppressant.
Firstly, green tea contains a phytonutrient known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which increases the effect of the satiating hormone CCK (cholecystokinin), tricking the body into thinking its full.
Perhaps a stronger mechanism is in its role on catecholamine release. EGCG has been shown to mediate the release of catecholamines through the inhibition of the enzymes normally involved in its breakdown. This, in combination with the little caffeine inside (coffee will have a lot more), will activate the sympathetic nervous system, which tends to squash appetite.
This phenomenon is also apparent after HIIT or weight training, where the sympathetic response from the nervous system is very high.
Another benefit of green tea and coffee is the slight increase in the rate of fat burning through increased activation of beta-oxidation. It also improves 24-hour thermogenesis rates, insulin sensitivity, and glucose control. The latter two benefits will also aid in hunger through blood sugar stabilisation and efficient partitioning of nutrients.
One last reason to enjoy a hot cup of green tea specifically on a diet is its ability to lift your mood. Its high theanine content can drive increased responses in dopamine, GABA and possibly serotonin too. In fact, despite green tea’s caffeine content, it’s theanine content can counteract the effects of caffeine to an extent, making for a much mellower drink when you want a mood enhancer as well as an energiser.
TIP 2: Celery Sticks with Black Pepper
This sounds disgusting on paper yet is probably my favourite go-to appetite suppressant in the tail end of a diet.
This humble vegetable boasts a whopping 8 calories per stick, yet it takes a lot of chewing to digest it. This is why I think it works so well. It almost deceives your body into thinking it’s eating something more substantial.
The very act of chewing, and the salivary enzyme and hormonal response it triggers tricks your body into reducing hunger. This mechanism is also why something like sugar-free chewing gum works well too. With celery however, you’re also getting some health benefits too, including a nice dose of both soluble and insoluble fibre.
Although there’s no specific reason for the black pepper, I think it works well in combination. If I had to put it to anything, I’d say it was the slightly spicy kick of having raw black pepper straight on top that helps.
TIP 3: Psyllium Husk
The reason psyllium husk works so well with appetite suppression is that it mixes with water in your digestive tract, and then expands and swells.
Try this. Add a teaspoon of psyllium husk into water. Instead of drinking it, leave it a few minutes and watch it expand into a big lump. This is what happens in your stomach and how it manages to keep you fuller for longer.
If you’re taking for appetite regulation, 2-3 grams after your meal seems to be the best. Make sure you increase your water intake to match the increased fibre consumption and maintain regularity.
TIP 4: Diet Fizzy Drinks
A lot is often made about diet drinks, but I think if you live a healthy lifestyle and keep it in moderation, it’s not the end of the world. They can be a real help to not only squash appetite, but also lift your mood and allow you to stay social too.
A few things are at work here. Firstly, the bubbles from the fizz will help ‘fill’ your stomach, which is also why sparkling water works well when dieting. Second, you get a small caffeine hit that has direct links to appetite suppression. And lastly, drinks like diet Coke contain the amino acid phenylalanine, which is a dopamine precursor that helps alleviates stress, increase motivation and raise mood.
TIP 5: Calorie Free Sauces / Products
This is something that can be of a real help, but can be easy to get carried away with. Using the odd calorie free sauce or condiment on your food a few times a week is ok. Lathering it on every meal is not.
I know Adam’s personal favourite is a bit of calorie free chocolate sauce from Walden’s Farm mixed in with Greek Yogurt before bed.
But one thing he makes sure he does when dieting is keeping its use consistent, so it doesn’t become a variable in the mix that may affect fluid retention / scale readings (which can affect the choices you make when adjusting a diet).
TIP 6: Delay Your First Meal
The best way to explain this tip is this: would you rather spread 5 meals out over 12 hours or 16 hours?
Nines times out of ten you’ll go for the former option when dieting hard. By delaying your first meal of the day and creating a shorter eating window, you’ll feel fuller throughout the day and less prone to blood sugar drops that are common when you’re trying to get into condition.
What I personally do when dieting is wake up, go outside for 45-50 minutes of fasted cardio, cook my meals for the day and then get ready before eating my first meal, which ends up being about 2-2.5 hours after waking.
TIP 7: Go For Walks
When you next feel like reaching for that bag of biscuits, head outside for a walk. It’s been shown to positively affect the brain chemicals responsible for regulating mood and cravings.
It doesn’t to be a lot either – 15 minutes at a moderate pace is usually enough to squash any temporary cravings.
An added bonus of this is that you’ll increase your NEAT and be closer to your daily step goals.
Dieting to lose a bit of weight is easy, and anyone can do it. Dieting to get into extreme condition is whole different ball game.
One of the side effects is withstanding the constant hunger and cravings that you’ll face during the last 4 to 8 weeks of your diet.
What the tips in this article will do is help manage this hunger a little better so your body can ‘stay hungry’ without ‘feeling’ it as much.
If you’ve got any of your own strategies you like to use, please feel free to share them with us!