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18 science-based ways to reduce hunger and appetite

18 wissenschaftlich basierte Wege Hunger und Appetit zu reduzieren

To lose weight, you generally need to reduce your daily calorie intake. Unfortunately, a weight loss diet often leads to increased hunger and appetite. This can make it extremely difficult to lose weight and keep the new weight off.

Here is a list of 18 science-based ways to reduce excessive hunger and appetite.

1. eat enough protein

Adding more protein to your diet can help increase satiety, which leads to you eating less at your next meal, which in turn helps with fat loss (1).

One weight loss study compared two breakfast options that provided the same amount of calories: one consisted of eggs, the other of bagels. Subjects who ate eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight and 16% more body fat during the eight-week study (2).

In addition to this, a high protein intake could help prevent muscle loss when calories are reduced for weight loss (3).

A protein intake of 20 to 30% of your daily calorie intake seems to give the best results according to studies (3).

2. choose high-fiber foods

A higher fiber intake stretches the stomach, slows the rate of gastric emptying and influences the release of satiety hormones (4).

In addition, fiber can ferment in the intestine. This produces short-chain fatty acids, which helps to further increase the feeling of satiety (5).

In fact, a recent study review reported that adding high-fiber beans, peas and lentils to meals increased satiety by 31% compared to non-legume based meals.

Fiber-rich whole grains can also help reduce hunger and increase satiety.

Eating 14 grams of fiber per day can reduce calorie intake by up to 10%. Over the course of 16 weeks, this can lead to a weight loss of up to 1.9 kilos (7).

More recent studies have observed less dramatic results. This could be related to the different types of dietary fiber studied. More viscous types of fiber such as pectin, beta glucan and guar gum appear to be more satiating than less viscous fibers (8).

Furthermore, few adverse effects are associated with a high-fiber diet. High-fiber foods often contain many other beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy plant compounds (9).

For all these reasons, a healthy diet that includes adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds can promote not only weight loss but also long-term health.

3. favor solid foods over liquid foods

Calories in solid form and calories in liquid form can have different effects on appetite.

A recent study review found that people who ate a solid snack were 38% less likely than those who ate a liquid snack to eat more at their next meal (10).

In a second study, subjects who ate a semi-solid snack reported a lower desire to eat and a greater feeling of fullness compared to those who ate a liquid snack (11).

Solid foods require more chewing, which gives the feeling of fullness more time to reach the brain (12).

Scientists also believe that the extra chewing allows solid foods to stay in contact with the taste buds longer, which can also promote satiety (13).

4 Drink coffee

Coffee has many benefits for health and athletic performance - and can also help reduce appetite.

Scientific research shows that coffee increases the release of peptide YY (PYY) (14). This hormone is released in the digestive tract in response to the consumption of food and promotes a feeling of fullness.

Scientists believe that PYY levels play an important role in determining how much you are likely to eat (15).

Interestingly, decaffeinated coffee may produce the strongest reduction in hunger, with effects lasting for up to 3 hours after consumption (16).

However, more studies are needed to say exactly how this works.

5 Drink plenty of water

Drinking water can help reduce the hunger you feel before meals. It can also increase the feeling of fullness after a meal and promote weight loss (17).

In fact, studies show that people who drank two glasses of water immediately before a meal ate 22% less than those who did not drink water (18). Scientists believe that about 500 ml of water is enough to stretch the stomach sufficiently to send satiety signals to the brain (18).

Water is also known to pass through the stomach quickly. For this tip to work, it's best to drink water as close to a meal as possible.

Interestingly, soup right before a meal seems to have the same effect. Researchers observed that consuming a bowl of soup immediately before a meal reduced hunger and lowered total calorie intake from the meal by about 100 (19).

6. eat consciously

Under normal circumstances, your brain knows whether you are hungry or full. Eating quickly or eating when you're distracted can make it harder for your brain to recognize these signals.

Solve this problem by eliminating distractions and focusing on the food in front of you - a key aspect of mindful eating.

Scientific research shows that mindful eating can help you experience more pleasure when eating. It can also help you focus on quality rather than quantity and reduce overeating or uncontrolled eating (20).

There also seems to be a link between hunger, satiety and what your eyes see.

One experiment offered study participants two identical milkshakes. One was labeled a "620 kcal indulgence" while the other was labeled a "120 kcal light diet". Even though both groups consumed the same number of calories, hunger hormone levels dropped in those who believed they were drinking the high-calorie shake (21).

Thus, believing that a drink contains more calories can activate the areas of the brain associated with satiety (22).

So how full you feel can depend on what you see and paying attention to what you eat can be very useful.

7. enjoy dark chocolate

It is believed that the bitter taste of dark chocolate can help reduce appetite and alleviate cravings for sweets (23).

Scientists also believe that the stearic acid contained in dark chocolate can help to slow down digestion and thereby further increase the feeling of satiety (24). Interestingly, even the simple smell of dark chocolate could have the same effect.

One study observed that simply smelling 85% dark chocolate reduced both appetite and hunger hormones as much as eating the chocolate (25).

Nevertheless, further studies are needed to investigate the effects of dark chocolate on satiety.

8. eat some ginger

Ginger is associated with many health benefits. This includes reducing nausea, inflammation and blood sugar levels.

Interestingly, recent research adds another benefit to this list: a reduction in hunger.

One study found that consuming 2 grams of ginger powder dissolved in hot water at breakfast reduced the hunger that study participants felt after a meal (26).

However, this study was small and further human studies are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

9. spice up your meals

Ginger might not be the only spice that reduces hunger.

A recent study review looked at the effects of capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers, and capsiate, which is found in paprika. This study found that both compounds can help reduce hunger and increase satiety (27).

In addition, the ability of these compounds to generate heat may also increase the number of calories burned after a meal (27).

However, these effects have not been observed in all studies and remain small. In addition, people who eat these foods frequently may develop a habituation over time.

10. eat from smaller plates

Reducing the size of your eating utensils can help you to subconsciously reduce your portion size. This will most likely help you to consume less food without feeling deprived (28).

Interestingly, this effect can fool even the most conscious eater. For example, one study found that even dieters subconsciously consumed 31% more ice cream when they were given sufficiently large bowls of ice cream (29).

Another study reported that subjects who helped themselves to snacks from large bowls ate 142 kcal more than those who ate from smaller bowls (30).

11. use a larger fork

The size of your cutlery could have a dramatic effect on how much food you need to fill you up.

One study observed that subjects who used larger forks ate 10% less than those who ate their meals with a smaller fork (31).

The researchers concluded that small forks may make people feel that they are not making as much progress in satisfying their hunger, leading them to eat more.

It should be noted that this effect does not apply to the size of all utensils. Larger ladles can increase the amount of food eaten per meal by up to 14.5% (29).

12. sports training

Exercise training is believed to reduce the activation of brain regions associated with food cravings, which may result in less motivation to eat (32).

Exercise can also reduce levels of hunger hormones while increasing feelings of satiety (33).

Scientific research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training are equally effective in reducing hormone levels and the size of meals eaten after exercise (34).

13. lose fat around the midsection

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a hormone that affects appetite and energy balance. It is believed that higher levels of NPY can increase appetite and even alter the percentage of calories stored as fat (45).

Interestingly, scientists have found that body fat - and specifically body fat around the organs - can increase the production of NPY (36).

Based on this observation, losing fat around the midsection could help reduce appetite and hunger.

14 Make sure you get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep can also help you reduce hunger and protect against weight gain.

Studies show that too little sleep can increase hunger and appetite by up to 24% and reduce levels of some satiety hormones by up to 26% (37).

Scientific research also shows that individuals who slept less than seven hours a night rated their satiety levels 26% lower after breakfast (40).

It's worth noting that several studies have linked insufficient sleep - generally defined as less than six hours per night - with up to 55% higher risk of obesity (41).

15 Reduce your stress

Excessive stress is known to increase levels of the hormone cortisol. Although this effect can vary between individuals, increased cortisol levels are generally associated with increased food cravings and an increased drive to eat (41).

Stress can also reduce levels of peptide YY (PYY) - a satiety hormone (42). In a recent experiment, subjects consumed an average of 22% more calories after a stressful test than after a stress-free version of the same test (43).

Finding ways to lower your stress levels could not only help you reduce your hunger, but also reduce your risk of obesity and depression (44).

16 Eat omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids - especially the variants found in fish and algae oil - have the ability to increase levels of the satiety hormone (45).

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce satiety after meals when calories are restricted for weight loss (46).

So far, these effects have only been observed in overweight and obese subjects. Further research is needed to find out if this also applies to lean people.

17. choose high protein snacks

Snacking is a matter of individual preference. If it is part of your daily routine, then you should choose snacks that are high in protein rather than fat.

Protein-rich snacks can increase satiety and reduce the total calorie intake at the next meal.

For example, a high-protein yogurt reduces hunger more effectively than high-fat crackers or a high-fat chocolate snack (47).

High-protein yogurt eaten in the afternoon could also help you eat about 100 kcal less at dinner than after the other two snacks. (47).

18 Visualize eating the foods you crave

According to some scientists, simply visualizing eating the food you crave can reduce the desire to eat it.

In one experiment, 51 subjects first imagined eating either 3 or 33 M&Ms before being given access to a bowl of the candy. Those who imagined they had eaten more M&Ms ate on average 60% less candy (48).

The scientists observed the same effect when they conducted the experiment with cheese instead of M&Ms.

It seems that the visualization exercise tricks the mind into believing that you have already eaten the foods you want, which significantly reduces your cravings for those foods.


Hunger is an important and natural signal that you should not ignore.

The tips mentioned are just some simple ways to reduce your appetite and hunger between meals.




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