Dealing with hunger effectively is one of the most important variables regarding a successful weight loss diet. Without managing hunger, you’ll spend the diet craving food and feeling miserable.
Fortunately, there are a few techniques and supplement ingredients that may help reduce hunger, allowing you to better manage your cravings and overall food intake.
In this article, I’ll discuss 6 of my favorite techniques for managing hunger while on a calorically restrictive diet.
5-HTP is a supplement ingredient that has strong ties with acting as a potential treatment for depression but, surprisingly, can also be used effectively for appetite suppression.
5-HTP is somewhat of a intermediate when it comes to producing serotonin, because it’s the middle step between converting the amino acid, tryptophan, into serotonin, where it can work throughout the body.
What research shows is that supplementation with 5-HTP might help to increase feelings of satiety. That would mean that you feel more satisfied from the meals you consume, which relates to a potential decrease in food intake later on in the day (1).
Additionally, it seems that there is even evidence to suggest that supplementing with 5-HTP might actually help reduce your cravings for carbohydrates specifically, which could prove to be quite powerful when dieting, particularly if carbohydrates are somewhat of an issue for you (2).
If you know that feeling hungry while dieting will likely cause you problems, it might not be a bad idea to give 5-HTP a try. I suggest taking one standard dose per day, alongside a meal. Afterwards, you can adjust the amount and frequency you take 5-HTP depending on your own response.
Bottom Line: While 5-HTP is typically a supplement focused on improving depression, evidence suggests that it may have a positive influence on reducing cravings for food, helping to manage hunger more effectively.
Eat On A Regular Schedule
Have you ever noticed that if you have a late night snack you wake up feeling ravenously hungry? It’s quite possible that you’re feeling that hunger because you’ve deviated from your typical schedule of eating.
Our bodies are controlled by what is known as a circadian rhythm. Each day an orchestra of coordinated events takes place between enzymes, cells and hormones to ensure that the body is functioning at its full capacity.
As it turns out, this process also controls hunger. Cells in the stomach that release ghrelin, the hunger hormone, act according to a typical schedule. Based on when you typically eat, ghrelin is released just prior, to ensure that you feel hungry and forage for food.
Once this cycle becomes disrupted, the body’s signals of food availability become confused, which can lead to erratic hunger pangs which seem fairly unprovoked.
Theoretically speaking, eating according to a typical schedule should help to avoid an erratic secretion of hunger hormones, which can lead to potential reductions of hunger when you don’t necessarily want to be hungry.
Further, it’s entirely possible that eating according to a daily schedule might also help to optimize how your body processes food as well.
If you eat erratically and frequently feel hungry, consider scheduling out when you consume food for a few days. Doing so may help you better manage appetite, which may help you better manage your entire diet.
Bottom Line: The processes in the body that influence hunger work according to a typical schedule. When you eat erratically, this can manifest in unexpected and intense hunger. Attempting to eat according to a regular schedule may be effective.
Drink Water Before And Between Meals
I won’t tell you that your hunger is simply because your dehydrated. To be honest, I think that suggestion is a bit shortsighted. However, drinking water may actually help to reduce your cravings, but for a different reason than you may think.
Just as the cells that secrete ghrelin act according to a schedule, they are also sensitive to stretch, which is one of the reasons why you no longer feel hungry after a meal.
Consuming food or beverages causes the cells in the stomach to stretch, which then inhibit ghrelin secretion. Once these cells are stretched, it sends signals to indicate that food has been consumed and appetite diminishes (3).
Consuming water fortunately has a similar result. If consumed in large enough quantities, the consumed water can stretch these cells, helping you feel fuller, sooner, without impacting calorie intake.
If you feel hungry or want to reduce calorie intake from meals, I suggest drinking at least 2 cups of water when you feel hungry or 15 minutes before a meal. Doing so may reduce hunger, consequently helping you to reduce calorie intake.
Bottom Line: Drinking water before and in between meals may help stretch the cells in your stomach, which can result in reduced hunger cravings.
Sprint Before and Between Meals
While sprinting at a high intensity can help you burn body fat, research indicates that sprinting between meals may actually help to reduce calorie intake for one reason or another.
In a research study, scientists instructed obese individuals to sprint according to their own ability. The results showed that after sprinting, ghrelin in the blood was significantly reduced, which could be valuable for reducing hunger and resultant food intake (4).
I suggest completing 1-2 sprints before meals or in between, whenever you feel hungry. Based on how you feel in terms of hunger, you can increase or decrease your sprint amount until you find which routine works best for you.
Bottom Line: Sprinting in between meals may actually help reduce hunger and over all food intake. Start with 1-2 and increase sprints as you see fit.
Supplement With Chromium
Chromium is a mineral that influences carbohydrate metabolism and may actually play a role in reducing hunger and cravings. In fact, recent research suggests that this might be true.
One study observed 42 overweight women, who were provided with a chromium supplement, in order to investigate whether there was any effect on appetite and weight loss when using the supplement.
In this study, the women who supplemented with chromium demonstrated significantly reduced food intake, reduced hunger and also showed a tendency for decreased bodyweight (5).
Based on these findings, supplementing with chromium regularly may be quite beneficial for reducing hunger and potentially overall food intake. I suggest starting with a dose of 1,000 mcg (micrograms), taken alongside a carbohydrate-rich meal.
Bottom Line: The supplement, Chromium, may prove to be quite beneficial for reducing hunger and actual food intake. Adjust dosage according to your own response to the supplement.
Psyllium husk is a type of fiber that is typically taken to improve digestion and bulk. While it can certainly have that effect on your digestive tract, it can also help to reduce hunger cravings, due to the nature of the ingredient itself.
Psyllium husk is extremely hydrophilic, meaning that it absorbs water very well. When ingested, this fiber absorbs liquid and forms a thick gel, much like other fibers. As a result, this slows digestion and the speed at which food exits the stomach, resulting in a reduction of hunger.
In fact, in one study provided subjects with a Psyllium containing supplement alongside water, 3 hours prior to a typical meal. They found that the subjects who ingested the Psyllium supplement were significantly fuller after consuming the full meal (6).
This means that simply supplementing with Psyllium may help to provide greater satisfaction from meals, leading to overall reduced food intake throughout the day.
I suggest starting with around 5 grams, taken with water, around 30 minutes to 1 hour before eating. Just keep in mind though that increasing Psyllium intake drastically can cause digestive issues. It’s suggested that you assess tolerance with a low dose first, and increase on a need basis.
Bottom Line: Psyllium is a cheap fiber that can be taken to slow digestion and reduce hunger cravings. Keep in mind though that large doses may cause gastrointestinal distress. Start with a small dose and increase as you are able.
6 Unique Ways To Deal With Hunger While Dieting
Dealing with hunger while dieting is one of the most important, yet elusive issues to tackle when dieting. Finding ways to limit hunger and cravings is essential for managing calorie intake for a successful diet.
With these ingredients and techniques, you may be able to better manage calorie intake for a more efficient and overall effective dieting attempt.
- Ceci, F., Cangiano, C., Cairella, M., Cascino, A., Del Ben, M., Muscaritoli, M., … & Fanelli, F. R. (1989). The effects of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan administration on feeding behavior in obese adult female subjects. Journal of neural transmission, 76(2), 109-117.
- Wurtman, R. J., & Wurtman, J. J. (1996). Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. In Recent advances in tryptophan research (pp. 35-42). Springer, Boston, MA.
- Sakata, I., & Sakai, T. (2010). Ghrelin cells in the gastrointestinal tract. International journal of peptides, 2010.
- Holliday, A., & Blannin, A. K. (2017). Very low volume sprint interval exercise suppresses subjective appetite, lowers acylated ghrelin, and elevates GLP-1 in overweight individuals: a pilot study. Nutrients, 9(4), 362.
- Anton, S. D., Morrison, C. D., Cefalu, W. T., Martin, C. K., Coulon, S., Geiselman, P., … & Williamson, D. A. (2008). Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes technology & therapeutics, 10(5), 405-412.
- Turnbull, W. H., & Thomas, H. G. (1995). The effect of a Plantago ovata seed containing preparation on appetite variables, nutrient and energy intake. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 19(5), 338-342.