How to Curb Hunger: 5 Science-Backed Tips to Reduce Hunger and Appetite

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
a woman looking into a fridge to curb hunger

Hunger is why you can’t lose weight. It’s the reason those other diets failed. It’s the reason you’ll eat that freshly baked chocolate chip cookie without a second thought (more on that later). Hunger fuels bad dieting decisions time and again. And even though you purged your pantry of junk food and you try to drink plenty of water, it can be challenging to stick to any diet if you don’t know how to curb your hunger.

Ghrelin the “huger hormone” and Leptin “the fullness hormone” are two primary hormones that control your appetite. The key to maintaining a good balance between these two hormones is maintaining a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. With a doctor-developed plan like the South Beach Diet, you can rest assured that your diet fits the bill. Our meal plan is filled with nutrient-rich, fiber-rich, slow-digesting foods that can help you curb hunger, lose weight and stay satisfied.

If you’re looking for tips to tame your appetite and stay on plan, we’re here to help! Here are five science-backed tips to curb hunger and lower appetite.

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1. Eat Frequently

a man happily eating a salad to curb hunger

The heavier a person is, the less often they eat, suggests Harvard Health Publishing. Formerly obese people and people of normal weight maintained weight loss when they ate four times a day, compared with obese people. The more likely you are to stay full and satisfied, the less likely you are to overeat and gain weight. The South Beach Diet meal plan calls for eating about six times a day. That way, it’s easier to ignore easily accessible, often-unhealthy foods. Plus, you’ll be less likely to overeat, which helps promote weight loss. I

2. Load Up on Protein at Breakfast

cream colored protein powder in glass containers to curb hunger

It seems to help reduce your appetite later in the day, suggests the Journal of Dairy Science. Researchers gave 32 healthy adults a high-carb breakfast cereal with either one cup of commercial milk (12.4 grams of protein) or one cup of milk mixed with whole-milk protein concentrate or whey protein powder (28 grams of protein). After answering questions about their level of hunger, researchers found that those people who consumed extra protein at breakfast had lower blood sugar levels and a reduced appetite later in the day.

3. Benefits of Eating Salmon

a colorful plate of cooked salmon on top of vegetables

Speaking of protein, one of our all-time favorites to help curb hunger is salmon. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans eat two (3.5-ounce) servings of fatty fish per week. They explain, “Fish is a good source of protein and, unlike fatty meat products, it’s not high in saturated fat. Fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.” Salmon is a poster child for their recommendation because it contains vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, says Harvard Health Publishing.

A study, published in the journal Appetite, suggests omega-3s may also increase satiety in people who are overweight and obese. But it’s the over 20 grams of protein (the most filling macronutrient, according to Healthline) in a 3.5 ounce serving of salmon that has the most direct correlation to satiety, suggests The Satiety Index. In fact, the index rated fish the second highest on the list: higher than all other protein-rich foods. Here at South Beach Diet, one serving of salmon (and most other Proteins) is a little smaller than the recommended serving: three ounces.

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4. Understand Hunger

woman sitting in front of an empty plate. how to curb hunger

You walk into the mall and the smell of chocolate chip cookies hits you. Without another thought, you beeline to the kiosk and seconds later—you’re eating a cookie. Sound familiar? That’s “Nose Hunger,” says Jan Chozen Bays M.D., author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food.

It’s just one of seven kinds of hunger that we experience on a daily basis. These “hungers” occur as sensations, thoughts and even emotions within our bodies, minds and hearts, says Bays. When our senses are activated by food—even if we’re not truly hungry—we respond by putting food in our mouths. In order to not to engage in emotional eating, Bays suggests we need to become aware of what urges us to eat—and why.

For example, boredom fuels hunger—specifically mouth hunger. We’re seemingly satisfied when we’re crunching on something. Excitement feeds mouth hunger. The next time you’ve got the munchies, try to ask the mouth what it wants—something salty, sweet, crunchy or creamy. Before you eat, pause to assess your hunger. During the “meal,” pause to see if your mouth is satisfied. Do you need to keep eating?

What other types of hunger are there? Learn more here! >

5. Stress Eating: Find Ways to Cope with Stress

man working out at home in front of a laptop to curb hunger

Some people overeat when they’re stressed; others lose track of their appetite. Both are dangerous when you’re trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, especially because studies show stress can also affect metabolism. According to Cleveland Clinic, “In one recent study, participants who reported one or more stressors during the previous 24 hours, such as arguments with spouses, disagreements with friends, trouble with children or work-related pressures, burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women in the seven hours after eating a high-fat meal.” People tend to always seek out a high-fat meal due to stress. When we’re stressed, our brains release cortisol that makes us want sugar, salt and high-fat foods. “Researchers say experiencing one or more stressful event the day before eating just one high-fat meal (the kind we’re most likely to indulge in when frazzled) can slow the body’s metabolism so much that women could potentially see an 11-pound weight gain over the course of a year,” says Cleveland Clinic.

Both good (new house or baby) and bad stress (a fight or lofty job demands) can trigger hunger and stress eating. So what’s a dieter to do? First, identify the stressors and try to find a pattern so you can be prepared to cope. Second, try exercise, which releases endorphins and positive feelings. Last but not least, seek out a great listener: A friend, parent or even a counselor. Always speak to your doctor if you’re feeling overly stressed.

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