EN: 6 Tips to Control Hunger and Cravings When Dieting

Everyone that has done a fat loss diet or a contest prep knows that hunger and cravings are almost inevitable at some times. Luckily, there are a couple of tips and tricks to avoid them or to control them!

Eat foods with a lower caloric density

One of the best strategies to control your hunger is to turn to foods that fill you up but don’t contain a lot of calories. Green vegetables are great for this matter. Broccoli, lettuce, string beans and other leafy vegetables should be on your menu. They have so few calories that in fact it’s not even necessary to count them. You can allow yourself to eat an unlimited quantity of green vegetables without regarding the number of calories in it. They often contain so few calories that it takes your body just as many calories to burn them. While at the same time they fill your stomach and make you feel full.

Eat larger meals but less frequently

You hear a lot of people say that eating more frequently decreases appetite. Unfortunately, the opposite is true! Eating more frequently increases your appetite. In this study, the subjects reported that their appetite and cravings were considerably higher with 6 smaller meals than with 3 larger meals. (1)

Of course, this is not valid if you would only eat 1 meal throughout the day. The sweet spot appears to be 3 to 4 large meals a day. So, if you eat 2400 calories daily on your diet, it’s better to eat 4 meals of 600 calories, than 6 meals of 400 calories. The calories burnt will be identical but your craving for sugar or other tempting foods will definitely be better with the 4-meal diet.

Drink 2 glasses of water before every meal and increase your overall water intake

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have shown that drinking two glasses of water half an hour before eating a meal may help you control your hunger and appetite. The subjects in the study that drank 500ml of water before every meal lost more weight over the course of 12 weeks than those who didn’t. This was due to the fact that their stomach was already fuller at the time they started to eat their meal. (2)

Another benefit of drinking water in general is that the hydration level of your body can give false signals to your brain. That’s why a lot of people confuse hunger with dehydration. Keeping your water intake high throughout the day will help you stay clear of unnecessary snacking. Water is a very powerful appetite suppressant. If you are feeling hungry and drink a decent amount of water, you’ll probably notice that your appetite and cravings fade away within a couple of minutes or are completely gone.


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Increase your protein intake

If you want to feel less hungry, another great way is to get more protein in your diet. High-protein, low-carb diets have been proven to suppress your hunger and control your appetite. They also increase the post-meal satisfaction you experience.

“An increase in dietary protein from 15% to 30% of energy at a constant carbohydrate intake produces a sustained decrease in ad libitum caloric intake that may be mediated by increased central nervous system leptin sensitivity and results in significant weight loss. This anorexic effect of protein may contribute to the weight loss produced by low-carbohydrate diets.” (3)

It is important to note that you should get your extra protein from particular sources. If you take a protein shake instead of a chicken breasts, chances are that you’ll feel more hungry instead. Solid protein meals are more effective in suppressing hunger than similar liquid protein alternatives. They can be a great addition but don’t make them your main protein source.

Increase your fiber intake

There’s a lot of evidence that fiber in foods reduce appetite. So let higher-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans make a part of your diet. A lot of these foods also tend to have a high water content which can help you stay fuller and more hydrated.

Especially beans are doing great as an appetite suppresser. In this study, subjects who received Phaseolus vulgaris extract (bean-extract) had a significant lower appetite than those who received a placebo. They had a much lower desire to eat until 3 hours after ingesting the extract. (4)

An additional benefit of fiber seems to be the effects on our cardiovascular system. One of the most recent studies comparing dietary fiber intake with mortality revealed that those who ate more fiber had a 25% reduced risk of dying from any cause, not just heart disease, within the next nine years, compared to those whose fiber intake was lacking. (5)

“Every increase of 10 grams of fiber each day was on average linked to a 15 percent lower risk of dying over the study period.”

Get enough sleep and go to bed early

Not getting enough sleep triggers the release of hormones that are linked to hunger which can spark more cravings the next day. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep every single night.

On top of that, you probably experience most of your cravings in the evening when you’re all set in front of the tv. That’s completely normal. According to a study published in the Journal of Obesity, this is the work of your biorhythm, which amps up cravings when the sun goes down, telling you to keep eating in order to store energy until the next meal. So the later you go to bed, the more food you’re likely to eat. So, if you can’t resist the temptation you better go to bed and enjoy your breakfast the next day.



1 – The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men – Leidy HJ, Tang M, Armstrong CL, Martin CB, Campbell WW. – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729

2 – Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity – Obesity magazine – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21167/abstract

3 – A highprotein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. – Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16002798

4 – Phaseolus vulgaris extract affects glycometabolic and appetite control in healthy human subjects. – Br J Nutr. 2013 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23046862

5 – Dietary fiber intake and mortality among survivors of myocardial infarction: prospective cohort study – Shanshan Li, ‎doctoral candidateAlan Flint, research scientistJennifer K Pai, assistant professor of medicineJohn P Forman, assistant professor of medicineFrank B Hu, professorWalter C Willett, professorKathryn M Rexrode, associate professor of medicineKenneth J Mukamal, associate professor of medicineEric B Rimm, associate professor – http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g2659

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