Skipping breakfast correlates very highly with late day hunger and even binging. Night time eating syndrome (NES) is a clinically recognized eating disorder. People who eat breakfast are far less likely to experience NES.
Lean protein foods suppress appetite better than any other macronutrient. Studies have shown that swapping out a small amount of carbs and putting lean protein in its place (increasing from 15% protein to 30% protein) improved weight loss by increasing leptin sensitivity and reducing hunger. By the way, casein protein, which is available as a protein powder supplement, is a slow-released protein. A study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands reported that casein protein makes you feel fuller. Thick shakes that have some degree of “chew” factor are more filling and make ideal meal replacements when you’re a busy person who struggles with hunger.
Don’t cut all the fat out of your diet. Very low fat diets often increase hunger. Physiologically speaking, dietary fats don’t curb hunger as well as lean protein. However, they do slow down gastric emptying and help even out blood sugar levels by providing a mixed meal that is not all carbs. Dietary fat also provides psychological satiety and satisfaction, as it adds flavor and texture to a food or meal.
Fiber is satiating and provides bulk to your meals without large amounts of calories. Think veggies first, fruits second, and high fiber whole grains and legumes and root veggies third. Aim for approximately 25-35 grams a day. A new study from the University of Kentucky provided a customized recommendation for fiber: 14 grams per 1000 calories per day energy expenditure. For a female at 2000 calories, that would be 28 grams fiber per day. For a male at 2700 calories per day, that would be 38 grams of fiber per day.
Water isn’t necessarily an appetite suppressant, but it does take some space up in your stomach. If you drink something non-caloric when you feel hungry, that may also provide some benefit psychologically. This could include tea or coffee (sans the cream and sugar). I know some folks who use sparkling water as they say the carbonation makes them fuller, at least temporarily. With a splash of juice or flavor, it’s also a low-calorie alternative to diet soda.
Liquids almost never satisfy appetite like whole foods do. However, there are no whole foods that you can eat which contain no calories, but there ARE liquids you can drink that contain no calories. Given that soda and dessert coffees are two of the largest sources of excess calories leading to obesity, a non-caloric drink as a substitution for calorie-containing drinks has great value to the dieter.
Some foods make you feel much fuller than others. For example, most people say that oatmeal gets them extremely full, while a boxed cereal like wheat flakes leaves them hungry.
There are some generally accepted guidelines here, but ultimately, it’s an individual thing. You need to experiment. A journal will help. Eat a food or meal, and then take note of hunger and how you feel immediately afterwards and for the three hour period afterwards. Your food journal will reveal a LOT to you.
It’s a lot easier to stick to a nutrition program if you have planned free meals and refeeds. Let’s suppose that nothing else helps; you are just always hungry on a diet. Well, who says you always have to stay in a calorie deficit 100% of the time? It’s actually a built-in feature of any good nutrition program to allow free meals that will satisfy your cravings and to give yourself refeed days where you eat more.
If you know you have the free meal coming and if you know you have the refeed day coming, then even if the hunger is difficult to tolerate, you CAN tolerate it because you know you get to eat more in just a few days. Psychologically, it’s like only being on a diet for only a few days at a time. You can also tolerate hunger by reminding yourself that you won’t be on a fat loss program forever. Once you reach your goal, you get to go back up to maintenance calories.
Interesting enough, exercise can either increase or decrease appetite. The majority of research says it decreases appetite, or helps psychologically to improve compliance to a diet, but there are exceptions. For example, cold water swimming increases appetite.
High intensity cardio usually suppresses appetite. Fasted morning cardio sometimes increases appetite. And some people are simply compensators who eat more after any kind of exercise because they feel like they earned the extra food if they worked out, but they end up putting back all or more of the calories they burned. In contrast, some people are more likely to stay on their nutrition program when they exercise because they feel like eating extra would undo all the good they did from training (training can be a motivator to stay on your diet).
Research from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin has conclusively proven that sleep deprivation increases hunger hormones and leads to more inadvertent snacking during the day.
There are a lot of reasons to avoid alcohol or drink it only in moderation, if you choose to drink. Research has consistently found that alcohol can distort your body’s perception of hunger, satiety and fullness. If drinking stimulates additional eating, or adds additional calories that aren’t compensated for, and that leads to positive energy balance, then you get fat.
You may also get fat in the belly, no thanks to what booze does to hormones. Men should be on guard more than women. The correlation between drinking alcohol and gaining body fat is stronger in men in almost all of the studies. It seems that women might be better at compensating for alcohol calories than men. In other words, men tend to drink and eat, while women tend to drink instead of eating.
How To Eat More And Burn More
While it’s not realistic to think that everyone will be free of hunger during a calorie deficit (especially during the final stages of a fat loss program), many people I’ve coached using the “bodybuilder and fitness model method” of nutrition find themselves actually eating more than they were before and they rarely feel any hunger they can’t handle…
It’s not uncommon for some of my clients to say they are full all the time, and can’t even eat all the food I recommend to them, even as their body fat keeps going down.
I can’t promise that you’ll never feel hungry on a fat loss diet, but when you switch from appetite-stimulating processed foods and refined calorie-dense sugars to all-natural, low-calorie-density, high-protein, high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods it’s remarkable how much food volume you can eat and still feel satisfied. Add in the right mental strategies, and you can get hunger problems under control
If you’d like to learn more about this “physique athlete” style of eating, that helps you build muscle, burn fat and keep your appetite, while keeping hunger at bay, check out my various coaching options by hitting this link!