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Hunger cravings are often the Achille’s heel of diets. They hit at the most inconvenient of times and it can often be a real struggle to say no to that extra bite or that oh so tiny chocolate bar that just so happened to be sitting in your desk, waiting to be eaten. However, succumbing to that temporary craving can often spiral into a binge session that you’ll most likely regret later. But there are ways you can fight these cravings and they’re simpler than you think. Here are our top 7 tips on how to suppress your appetite naturally.

1. Eat More Protein

One of the most well known strategies; having more protein in your diet can increase your satiety or your fullness levels. This has been evidenced through a variety of studies that have looked at altering different macronutrient ratios (carbohydrates to protein to fats) and observing its effects on hunger. Protein is able to modulate hunger levels thanks to its ability to affect metabolic targets of satiety such as certain hormones and receptors linked to appetite. Ideally, it is best to ensure you have a good dose of protein at every main meal and also evenly throughout the day. If you can’t meet these needs through foods, a protein shake is a cheap and convenient way to boost your intake.

2. More Fibre in Your Diet

Your body will naturally produce a range of hormones in response to eating which will signal fullness. Sometimes, this may be due to the actual compounds in the food or due to the presence of food itself. When the stomach or intestines stretch due to the presence of food, a range of receptors known as mechanoreceptors will leap into action and signal to your brain that you don’t need any more food. While eating lots of food will kick start that reaction, so can having more fibre, which will gel up when it hits the stomach. Best thing is, the bulk of the fibre won’t be counted as calories. You can easily boost your fibre intake by eating fibrous foods such as certain fresh vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates or with a soluble fibre supplement such as Metamucil or Benefibre.

3. Avoiding Blood Sugar Rollercoasters

The blood sugar reollercoaster is a common term for when your blood sugar and your insulin levels tend to experience extremely high peaks and lows due to poor choices in your carbohydrate consumption or an early sign of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Extremes in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling irritable and tired, but also means you can get hungry faster and with greater intensity. To avoid these extremes, it’s important to ensure a well balanced meal that isn’t simply all carbohydrates, and also consume less processed carbohydrates. Exercise will also help support a better insulin response so that these blood sugar levels are more easily managed and you aren’t feeling hungry as fast.

4. Deal With Your Stress

We all get stressed, whether it’s from our job, our family life or other circumstances. And while a bit of stress can be good motivation, too much of it can wreak havoc on your health and cause you to suffer from emotional eating. Emotional eating, unlike physical hunger pangs can’t easily be resolved by eating more fibre or bulky healthy foods such as veges of fruit. Instead, it manifests itself as more of a desire for certain unhealthy, moreish and comfort foods. One of the best ways to combat emotional eating is to simply limit your stress. Finding out what’s causing your stress and resolving it is the most ideal situation. However, this is not always possible. If this is the case, stress relieving herbs known as adaptogens can be helpful in helping to control emotional eating. Some of these herbs and adaptogenic compounds include: rhodiola, ashwagandha, ginseng, l-theanine (a compound in tea) and omega 3 fatty acids just to name a few.

5. Wait it Out

Food cravings are often transient in nature. That is, they generally dissipate after a short period of time. This is why waiting it out and distracting yourself with another task is a proven way to help support weight loss by eliminating food cravings. For example, a few recent studies conducted just last year in 2014 looked at different distraction methods and its effects on subjective hunger. These ranged from cognitive based thinking strategies such as focusing on negative aspects of submitting to the cravings or thinking about things other than food to extremely short 30 second activities such as tapping your forehead, pulling on an earlobe or tapping your foot. They found that these methods were able to reduce the intensity of the cravings. To put these techniques to action, the next time you have a food craving, simply mix it up with some distraction methods such as reading a newspaper article, completing a Sudoku or even aiming for a quick 10 minute walk around the block.

6. Exercise

Exercise isn’t just good for helping to build muscle and burn calories. It can also assist with appetite suppression. During exercise, blood flow will redirect itself away from the digestive tract and towards working muscle. This has the effect of reducing hunger and appetite. In addition, exercise has also been shown to affect hormones that control appetite, which can further assist with fighting cravings. There is the danger though of people compensating and overcompensating for the calories burned during exercise through overeating at other meals throughout the day, but keeping this in mind can be helpful in preventing this from happening. The next time you’re feeling hungry, a few push ups, a short jog and a bit of physical activity can not only boost your health, but also suppress your hunger pangs.

7. Have a Coffee

Stimulants such as caffeine and stronger alternatives such as synephrine from bitter orange extract exert similar affects as exercise in that it increases the level of adrenaline released. This will in turn help reduce hunger and cravings by reducing the blood flow to systems involved in digestion. Stimulants work best for those people who aren’t used to their effects. Their effectiveness at suppressing appetites is the reason why the bulk of fat loss support supplements often contain stimulants. Their susceptibility to tolerance is also why it’s best to cycle any supplement with stimulants for best effects. If you an avid coffee drinker, it can mean that stimulant containing pre workouts or fat burners might not be as successful for you. The next time you start to feel hungry, a cup of coffee or a good fat burner supplement can tide you over till the next meal.

Best Ways to Suppress Appetite

Fat loss and weight loss can be a hard and tiring process fraught with hurdles which can set you back. One of the biggest hurdles people experience is food cravings trying to remain steadfast, even though your appetite is calling out for you to grab some food. Controlling your appetite and your cravings however, can be much easier than you think. All you need to know are the right tips and tricks along with the best supplements to help in reaching your weight loss goals. The 7 listed above are some of the best and most scientifically sound techniques and are definitely worth a try the next time you feel like grabbing for that chocolate bar.

1. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lemmens SG, Westerterp KR. ‘Dietary protein - its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health.’ Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S105-12.
2. Clark MJ, Slavin JL. ‘The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review.’ J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11.
3. European Medicines Agency. 2008. REFLECTION PAPER ON THE ADAPTOGENIC CONCEPT. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/09/WC500003646.pdf. [Accessed 20 April 15].
4. Demos, K. et al. (2014). The effects of cognitive strategies in neural food cue reactivity. Obesity Week, November 27, 2014.
5. Weil, R. et al. (2014). Effects of simple distraction tasks on self-induced food cravings in men and women with grade 3 obesity. Obesity Week, November 27, 2014
6. Martins C, Morgan L, Truby H. ‘A review of the effects of exercise on appetite regulation: an obesity perspective.’ Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Sep;32(9):1337-47
7. Gavrieli A, Karfopoulou E, Kardatou E, Spyreli E, Fragopoulou E, Mantzoros CS, Yannakoulia M. ‘Effect of different amounts of coffee on dietary intake and appetite of normal-weight and overweight/obese individuals.’ Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Jun;21(6):1127-32.
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