Woman eating portion controlled breakfast

How to Control Your Appetite: 14 Tips

Published: January 2022

Hunger is a normal bodily sensation that occurs when your body is telling your brain that your stomach needs a refill. However, for those who want to manage their weight (or lose some weight), those pesky belly growls can be perceived as an obstacle to seeing success on the scale.

Does that mean you have to constantly run on empty to maintain a healthy weight? Not at all. We sat down with Life Extension registered dietitian Holli Ryan to discuss how you can manage your appetite so that you can nourish your body with the foods it needs to stay well—without feeling like hunger runs the show.

Interestingly, as Ryan points out, the amount of food you eat is just one of many factors that influence your feelings of satiety. Indeed, there are 14 ways you can control your appetite.

Let's dig in!

What part of the brain controls appetite?

Appetite is controlled by a "dual center model" in the hypothalamus: one section controlling hunger and another section controlling satiety. The body sends signals to your brain when your stomach is empty or full, triggering feelings of hunger or satiety.

How to Control Your Appetite: 14 Tips and Routines

Keeping your appetite from spiraling out of control is both a mind game and a body game. Here are Ryan's tips for not letting hunger and cravings get the better of you.

1. Consume healthy foods

Woman with incorporated appetite-suppressing food into her diet eating yogurt

Some foods make it easier to manage your appetite:

  1. Greek or Icelandic yogurt

    – Compared to regular yogurt, these are richer in protein, which helps you feel full for longer. In a study, those who consumed more protein reported feeling less hungry. They also consumed fewer calories and lost an average of 11 pounds when they were put on a 30%-protein diet but permitted to eat as many calories as they wanted. In addition, a study from 2018 found that people who consumed extra protein at breakfast had reduced appetite later in the day compared with those consuming less protein.
  2. Avocados, olives, nuts and seeds

    – These are sources of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that gets transformed into OEA. In a 2015 study, participants who ate food high in oleic acid felt decreased hunger and reduced calorie consumption.
  3. Red chilis

    – Studies have shown that consuming red pepper can reduce appetite and lower protein and fat consumption in the next meal.

Choosing the right snacks helps many people keep their appetite in control. Choose whole-grains and other foods that are high in fiber, Ryan advised. A well balanced snack in the right portion size is key. It's important to make smart choices about not just what you eat, but also when you eat.

2. Avoid overeating

"If calories are consumed in excess—even with, say, nutritious options like nuts or whole grains—it can still contribute to weight gain," explained Ryan. This is where overeating can really get you. "That's why portion control is still important. I recommend paying attention to portion sizes of a given food instead of counting all your total daily calories."

3. Get help from an herbal appetite control supplement

Herbal appetite control supplements, like Life Extension's Body Trim and Appetite Control, work by helping encourage the brain's perception of satiety. "Studies have shown that herbal extracts can favorably impact ghrelin (a hunger hormone) and GLP-1 (a satiety hormone), plus decrease lipid (fat) accumulation in adipose (fat) cells/tissue," said Ryan of the lemon verbena and hibiscus formula.

Combined with proper diet and exercise, Body Trim and Appetite Control can help induce up to 5% weight loss.

Woman with incorporated appetite-suppressing food into her diet eating yogurt

Dietitian Q&A: Appetite Control Supplements

With Holli Ryan

How do appetite control supplements work?

Appetite control supplements affect the urge to eat by controlling the feeling of hunger and satiety. They help you feel full faster and longer, so you eat less. They accomplish this through a variety of mechanisms. For example, an active component within saffron extract is thought to play a role in modulating neurotransmitter pathways relating to serotonin, including some involved in appetite, to help limit food intake.

Can I drop weight only by taking an appetite control supplement?

Weight management supplements should only be used as added support. There is no magic capsule when it comes to weight loss. It's up to the person to make the right lifestyle choices when it comes to their diet and exercise.

How much should I take a day?

Always consult the nutrition label on your appetite control supplement it has been designed to mimic the optimal dosing within the study. Be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner.

Are there any side effects to appetite control supplements?

This depends on the supplement and on the person. Since we are all biochemically different, our bodies react differently to foods, medications and supplements. Read the label carefully and ask your doctor if you have any concerns.

4. Drink green tea

Because it reduces fatigue, the caffeine in green tea is known to boost exercise performance which can lead to greater calorie burning. Another study found that green tea can help promote weight loss. (Added bonus: it's also high in antioxidants!)

5. Exercise regularly

Doing aerobic exercises such as running, swimming and cycling can help lower your appetite by influencing the hormones that stimulate feelings of hunger. And of course, burning calories through workouts isn't a bad thing if you're trying to manage your weight!

6. Don’t confuse hunger with thirst

Many times, when you think you're hungry, you might actually be bored or thirsty. Before reaching for a snack and mindlessly eating, try drinking water. In addition, because water occupies space in the stomach, it can lower the hunger signals sent to the brain. One study found that people who drank water before eating ate less.

7. Rethink those fad diets

Woman eating a toast as part of her Mediterranean diet

"Going on a diet" doesn't mean starving yourself at every meal. Instead of hopping on the latest weight loss craze, consider one of these dietitian-approved approaches to eating, which are more focused on packing your plate with healthy foods than cutting out an entire food group or requiring that you count the calories of every morsel you consume.

  1. Mediterranean diet

    – This is a plant-centric diet composed of minimally processed food and healthy fats like fish and extra-virgin olive oil. Red meat and eggs must be eaten infrequent and only in small portions, and dairy is mostly cheese and yogurt.
  2. Flexitarian diet

    – This is a semi-vegetarian diet characterized by the occasional meat intake.
  3. Intermittent fasting

    – IF is a time-bound diet that entails following an eating-fasting schedule during the day or certain days of the week. The theory is that it reduces appetite and the amount of calories you ultimately consume. While many people like the IF lifestyle, intermittent fasting certainly isn't the only way to manage your weight.

Said Ryan: "One of the things that I like about the Mediterranean diet is that it's not unreasonable or overly restrictive. It offers variety and doesn't put limits on calories. So, someone can follow this diet and feel satisfied, all while eating nutritious foods."

8. Hunger and craving balance: check your brain hormones

Man conrolling his appetite and food cravings eating a salad

Certain foods, such as "hyperpalatable" foods high in sugar and fat that people are likely to crave, can impact dopamine and serotonin pathways in the brain. Avoiding these kinds of foods in favor of unprocessed, healthier options can keep those cases of the munchies at bay.

In addition, sometimes hunger is really in your head, even if your belly is rumbling! That's because ghrelin is produced primarily in the stomach but acts on your hypothalamus (in your brain). This is often called the "hunger hormone," since it stimulates your appetite and promotes fat storage. If your ghrelin levels are out of whack, you might feel hungry and could be consuming more than your body really needs.

On the other hand, cells that can help decrease hunger are adipocytes (fat cells) which can release leptin, a hormone that acts to promote a sense of "fullness." A healthy lifestyle can help support against leptin resistance.

9. Keep your thyroid in check

The thyroid releases and regulates hormones that impact the body's metabolism rate, under the supervision of the pituitary gland, and influences the appetite and body weight. A blood test can help you determine if your hormones are where they need to be.

10. Manage your energy

Sustained energy levels throughout the day mean that your body is continuing to run on all cylinders. A supplement like AMPK Metabolic Activator can help discourage cells from storing fat and instead burn it as energy.

11. Stay stress-free

"Stress and lack of sleep have been linked to increased desire to snack, food cravings and poor food choices (high-fat, high-sugar 'comfort foods')," says Ryan. "This is due to the disruption of hormones and the psychological effects of foods."

In a 2015 study, participants who were stressed in the last 24 hours burned over 100 calories less than participants who were not stressed after consuming a high-fat meal. Manage your stress and you'll manage your weight.

12. Practice mindfulness

Mindful eating focuses on appreciating the experience of eating. This allows you to make deliberate choices, which often leads people to eat less, savor more, and pick healthy foods. A 2018 meta-analysis of 19 studies found that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are linked to better weight management. (Not sure where to start? Try yoga or a 5-minute meditation.)

13. Improve sleep quality

Research indicates that a lack of sleep can result in an increased appetite and feelings of hunger, particularly cravings for carbs. Sleep patterns can influence the levels of ghrelin.

14. Try additional weight management supplements

Woman taking weight management supplements

Weight management supplements work in different ways, and results may vary depending on the person. Assess your results after the recommended duration of use (usually at least 3 months or longer, depending on the supplement).

Maintaining control of your appetite—and, ultimately, your weight—is a combination of nutrition, exercise and overall physical and mental wellness…get all of these factors in play, and no doubt, you'll start to see the results you seek!

References

By: Jorie Mark, Health & Wellness Editor

Jorie Mark earned an English degree from University of Pennsylvania before getting a master's degree in creative writing from American University. She is a content and social media expert with 20 years of experience in social media, editorial content, digital marketing, events, public relations and food and lifestyle writing. She is also a published author.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD