You may be able to reduce hunger by eating foods that keep you fuller for a longer time, such as those high in protein and fiber. Some practices, like mindful eating, may also help.

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Hunger and appetite are innate experiences we deal with throughout the day, often without realizing it. They occur when our body needs energy or craves certain foods.

However, constantly feeling hungry can be frustrating, especially after just eating a meal. This may be a sign of not eating enough or not having a balanced diet.

To decrease hunger and appetite, there are various scientific methods to help, which we have compiled into a list of 12 ways.

1. Eat enough protein

Adding more protein to your diet can increase feelings of fullness and potentially help with weight management. Research suggests that both animal and vegetable sources of protein can have appetite-suppressing effects.

Getting at least 20–30% of your total calorie intake from protein, or 0.45-0.55 grams per pound (g/lb) or 1.0–1.2 g per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight, is sufficient to provide health benefits. Yet, some studies suggest up to 0.55–0.73 g/lb (1.2–1.6 g/kg) of body weight.

Still, other studies have found conflicting results when it comes to high protein diets. Thus, it’s important to remember that there may be other dietary approaches that better suit your habits and personal preferences.

2. Opt for fiber-rich foods

A high fiber intake slows digestion and releases fullness hormones. In addition, eating fiber helps produce short-chain fatty acids in your gut, which are believed to further promote feelings of fullness.

Viscous fibers, found in plant foods and supplements, can be especially filling. While the relationship between fiber and appetite is not fully understood, fiber-rich foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds can promote overall health.

Combining protein with fiber may provide added benefits for fullness and appetite. Pairing protein with fiber might provide double the benefits for fullness and appetite.

Thay said, the methods of studies examining how dietary fiber intake influences appetite have not always been consistent, and some researchers believe it’s too soon to make generalizations about the relationship between fiber and appetite.

Animal studies suggest that thirst may sometimes be mistaken for hunger, affecting food preferences and intake.

Some studies have also found that thirst status and water intake appear to influence preferences for certain foods more than hunger and how much you eat.

While the neurons that regulate your appetite for both water and food are closely related, much remains to be learned about how exactly they interact and why drinking water might also satisfy your hunger or appetite for solid foods.

That said, though it’s important to stay hydrated — drinking water shouldn’t replace your meal. In general, keep a glass of water with you and sip it during meals or have a glass before you sit down to eat.

Calories from solid or liquid foods may affect your appetite and your brain’s reward system differently.

Two recent research reviews found that solid foods and those with a higher viscosity — or thickness — significantly reduced hunger compared with thin and liquid foods.

This may be because solid foods require more chewing, which might grant more time for the fullness signal to reach the brain. On the other hand, softer foods are quick to consume in large bites and may be easier to overeat.

Another theory about why solid food helps reduce hunger is that the extra chewing time allows solids to stay in contact with your taste buds for longer, which can also promote feelings of fullness.

Aim to include a variety of textures and flavors in your meal to stay satisfied and get a wide variety of nutrients.

Eating too quickly or while distracted can make it harder for your brain to recognize signals of hunger and fullness.

Mindful eating, which involves focusing on the present moment and internal cues rather than external influences, can help.

As opposed to letting external cues like advertisements or the time of day dictate when you eat, mindful eating is a way of tapping into your internal hunger and satiety cues, such as your thoughts and physical feelings.

Research shows that mindfulness during meals may weaken mood-related cravings and be especially helpful for people susceptible to emotional, impulsive, and reward-driven eating — all of which influence hunger and appetite.

Nevertheless, mindful eating appears to work best for limiting food cravings and increasing awareness of food when it’s paired with a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and other behavior-focused therapies.

When your appetite or hunger levels are high, it can be especially easy to eat more than you planned. Slowing the pace at which you eat might be one way to curb the tendency to overeat.

For example, one study found that people who ate faster took bigger bites and ate more calories overall.

Interestingly, some newer research also suggests that your eating rate can affect your endocrine system, including blood levels of hormones that interact with your digestive system and hunger and satiety cues, such as insulin and pancreatic polypeptide.

Reducing the size of your dinnerware might also help you unconsciously reduce your meal portions and consume less food without feeling deprived. When you have a larger plate that holds more food, you’re likely to eat more without realizing it.

Though the benefits of eating on a smaller plate have been overstated in the past, this doesn’t mean this technique isn’t worth trying.

In addition, some studies have also found that eating with a smaller spoon or fork might not affect your appetite directly, but it could help you eat less by slowing your eating rate and causing you to take smaller bites.

It’s worth noting, however, that the size of your dinnerware may influence your hunger levels based on a number of personal factors, including your culture, upbringing, and learned behaviors.

Exercise is thought to reduce the activation of brain regions linked to food cravings, which can result in a lower motivation to eat high calorie foods and a higher motivation to eat low calorie foods.

It also reduces hunger hormone levels while increasing feelings of fullness.

Overall, exercise appears to have a relatively positive effect on appetite for most people, but studies have noticed a wide variability in the way individuals and their appetite respond to exercise.

In other words, there’s no guarantee the results will be the same for everyone. However, exercise has many benefits, so it’s a great idea to incorporate the movement you enjoy into your day.

Studies show that too little sleep can increase subjective feelings of hunger, appetite, and food cravings.

Sleep deprivation can also elevate ghrelin, a hunger hormone that increases food intake and is a sign that the body is hungry, and the appetite-regulating hormone leptin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most adults need 7–9 hours of sleep, while 8–12 hours are recommended for children and teens.

10. Manage your stress level

Excess stress is known to raise levels of the hormone cortisol.

Although its effects can vary from person to person, high cortisol levels are generally thought to increase food cravings and the drive to eat, and they have even been linked to weight gain.

On the other hand, some people react differently to stress. One study found that acute bouts of stress actually decreased appetite.

Whether you’ve noticed that you tend to feel hungrier when you’re under stress or often find yourself stress-eating in tense situations, consider some of these techniques to alleviate your stress:

Ginger has been linked to many health benefits due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties from the bioactive compounds it contains.

When it comes to appetite, ginger actually has a reputation for increasing appetite in cancer patients by helping to ease the stomach and reduce nausea.

However, recent research adds another benefit to the list — it may help reduce hunger.

One animal study fed rats an herbal mix that contained ginger along with peppermint, horse gram, and whey protein. The mixture was found to help regulate appetite and induce satiety, though the results can’t be attributed to the ginger alone.

Still, more studies in humans are needed before strong conclusions about ginger and hunger can be reached.

12. Don’t deprive yourself

Researchers are still working to understand exactly what happens when you restrict certain foods and whether doing so is an effective approach to lessen cravings for those foods.

Some people tend to experience cravings more intensely and are, therefore, more susceptible to them than others.

For most people, it’s not necessary to completely cut your favorite foods out of your diet. You can and should eat your favorite foods, after all.

If you have a craving for a certain specific food, try to enjoy that food in moderation.

How do I stop feeling hungry after eating?

If you find yourself still hungry after a meal, consider adding more voluminous but low calorie foods to your diet. These types of foods, like fresh veggies and fruits, air-popped popcorn, shrimp, chicken breast, and turkey, often contain more air or water content.

Learn more: Feeling hungry after eating: why it happens and what to do

How do I suppress hunger without eating?

It’s not practical to try to suppress hunger without eating. Instead of counting calories, examine the foods you’re eating and replace them with foods of better nutritional quality where necessary.

Learn more: What can I do to stop feeling hungry all the time without eating?

Are there natural appetite suppressants?

Several natural herbs and plants have been shown to aid in weight loss by suppressing appetite. They do this by increasing fullness, slowing down the emptying of your stomach, or affecting your hunger hormones. These include green tea, coffee, and various others.

Learn more: 10 natural appetite suppressants that may help you lose weight

The bottom line

Hunger and appetite are healthy bodily functions.

Typically, they’re simply a sign that your body needs energy and it’s time to eat.

The tips mentioned here are just a few simple ways to reduce your appetite and hunger during times when those sensations seem higher than normal.

If you’ve tried these things but still find yourself feeling hungry more than usual, consider talking with a healthcare professional about additional support for regulating your appetite.

Just one thing

Try this today: Did you know that emotions like boredom can sometimes be confused with hunger? This article on boredom eating can help you discern between true hunger and emotional hunger.

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