This is a superb article written by guest blogger and certified personal trainer, Thomas Jought. Fully loaded with citations, let’s find out Thomas’ 8 ways to improve our success with weight-loss!
Weight loss sounds easy at first; simply eat less energy than the body expends. This would be easy if it wasn’t for fat’s little friend … hunger! Hunger controls how much we eat. It urges us to eat, and in its absence, we feel full. Controlling your hunger is the key to increasing your weight loss resolve and sticking to that diet.
Read on as we reveal the 8 evidence-based ways to keep hunger at bay.
Eat More Protein
Foods that contain protein have shown to have more of a filling effect than foods that do not contain protein (1). Recently, studies have revealed protein’s suppressing mechanism in the body. In particular, when protein is digested, it stimulates the Mu-Opioid Receptors (MORs). These receptors send messages to the brain, telling it to reduce hunger (2). Interestingly, studies have also revealed protein to be the most filling macro-nutrient, outperforming both fat and carbohydrate (1).
Add Some Spice
Spicy foods have been linked to an increase in satiety (fullness feeling). Spices such as hot sauce, capsaicin, wasabi, and cayenne pepper are known for increasing the metabolism and reducing hunger (3, 4, 5). Researchers at Purdue University found that adding hot peppers to a diet reduced the participant’s appetite for foods high in salt, sugar, and fat (6).
Drink More Green Tea and Decaffeinated Coffee
Green tea is a great substitute to that afternoon and evening snack. It contains no calories and has been shown to reduce the storage of fat in the body, leaving more to be burnt from daily activities (7). Interestingly enough, decaffeinated coffee was shown to be more effective at reducing hunger than straight coffee, with some research suggesting it reduces hunger for up to 3 hours (8).
Eat More Fiber
While there is controversy over fiber’s effects on satiety, what we do know for sure is that it helps with digestion and in producing a bigger meal with lower calories. While fiber is considered a carbohydrate (containing 4 calories), the body cannot absorb the calories associated. This means, meals high in fiber will have a lower calorie to size ratio, resulting in bigger meals and less absorbed calories (9).
Eat Less Sodium
Salt is well known for containing sodium; in particular, table salt is made up of 60% chloride and 40% sodium. It is recommended that, at most, a teaspoon of table salt (or 2300mg of sodium) should be consumed each day. However, it is common for the average person to consume more than this figure (10). Interestingly, studies have linked this over consumption to processed foods (11). Sodium is often utilized in processed foods, as it enhances the taste and preserves it for longer. Too much sodium is not only bad for the heart, but in studies, it has also been linked to a higher risk of becoming overweight (12). Research has also revealed that people who eat high sodium foods are more likely to consume a greater amount, further increasing the intake of calories (13). Sodium also dehydrates the body, and as a result, more liquid is consumed to quench this thirst (13). Often, this thirst is quenched with sugary beverages, additionally increasing both the calories consumed and the level of hunger associated (as explained below).
Eat Less Sugar
Foods that contain a high amount of sugar should be avoided while dieting. While it may be obvious to some to avoid candy and soda, other foods, such as white bread, also contain a high amount of sugar (simple carbohydrates). In a study, people who consumed white bread were 40% more likely to become obese and overweight (14). This is due to sugar’s nasty effects that increase hunger and addiction, while promoting insulin / leptin resistance. Interestingly, research has also shown that sugar doesn’t increase that fullness feeling often felt after eating a meal. Participants in the study still felt the same level of hunger and fullness after consuming a sugary soda beverage (15). The way sugar creates resistance to both insulin and leptin can lead to type 2 diabetes and a prolonged feeling of hunger (16, 17).
Get Enough sleep
Sleep assists in balancing the body’s hormones each day. Research has shown that a lack of sleep can interrupt this balance, leading to an increase in hunger and appetite (18). Interestingly, studies have also shown that people, who regularly receive less sleep each night, are 55% more likely to become overweight or obese (19).
When stressed, the body produces more cortisol. This hormone has been found in studies to increase the amount of fat gained (20). Research has also shown that an increase in cortisol has also been linked to an increase in fat stored around the belly (21). Women who are stressed have demonstrated a tendency to eat more (also known as stress eating) (22). In a comparison study between stressed and non-stressed women, the women who demonstrated signs of stress had an increase in hunger cravings and consumed more calories than the non-stressed group (23, 24).
- Shapiro A, Mu W, Roncal C, Cheng KY, Johnson RJ, Scarpace PJ. Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18703413
About the Author
Thomas Jought is a certified personal trainer with an avid interest in strength and conditioning, nutrition and supplementation.