If you are trying to lose weight by reducing your calorie intake or portion size, controlling your appetite may be a challenge. Appetite-suppressant supplements and drugs are available, but they may be harmful to your health, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, so decreasing your appetite naturally is safer and healthier.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Incorporate high-fiber foods into your meals. You can add more vegetables to your soup, use fruit to top your cereal or throw some oats into your baked goods or meat loaf. Foods high in fiber tend to be lower in calories, and they add bulk to your meals, making you feel full faster. Whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables all provide fiber. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day, adding that you can meet this recommendation by eating 2 cups of fruits, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and whole grains or beans each day.
Have Protein With Breakfast
A protein-rich breakfast may reduce your appetite, according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who studied the eating habits of a group of teens. After using MRI scans to compare the participants' brain activity, they found that teens who ate high-protein breakfasts had less activity in the area of their brains that control hunger and appetite, while teens who ate low- or moderate-protein breakfasts experienced greater hunger, even if they took in a similar number of calories.
Spice Up Your Food
Spicy food or food with an unfamiliar flavor may curb your appetite and make you burn more calories, according to Purdue University professor Richard Mattes, who conducted a study on the topic in 2011. He offered dried cayenne pepper to 26 people every day for six weeks. Those who took the largest amount of it burned more calories than those who took none or little of it, possibly because the pepper increases your body's core temperatures slightly. Mattes noted that those who are not accustomed to eating cayenne pepper experience a decrease in appetite, suggesting that eating unfamiliar flavors may make you feel full more quickly.
Drink Water Before Meals
Drinking a glass of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner may reduce your appetite and cause you to eat less. In 2009, Virginia researchers published a study in the journal "Obesity" in which they monitored the progress of overweight adults on reduced-calorie diets and found that those who drank approximately 2 cups of water right before each meal lost more weight than those who did not drink water before eating. The researchers believe that water increases the feeling of fullness, reducing the desire to eat.
Avoid Simple Carbohydrates
Eating a doughnut for breakfast gives you quick energy, but your body uses the refined carbohydrates from it quickly, leaving you tired and hungry again in a few hours. Substitute these foods with complex carbohydrates, such as fresh fruit, whole-grain breads and pasta, for a fuel that your body burns more slowly. If you have protein with your meal, your body metabolizes it after it has used the carbohydrates, according to the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, prolonging your feeling of satisfaction and reducing the urge to snack between meals.
- Purdue University: Reasonable Quantities of Red Pepper May Help Curb Appetite
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Fiber
- University of Cincinnati: Benefits of High-Protein Weight Loss Diets: Enough Evidence for Practice?
- University of Missouri: Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast to Reduce Food Cravings, Prevent Overeating Later, MU Researcher Finds
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Obesity
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.