Many people turn to over-the-counter appetite suppressants to control hunger. It turns out that there are foods that have the same effect and are a lot cheaper and more enjoyable. So by eating certain foods, you can reduce appetite and thus lower intake later. Eat to lose!
Avocado1 – These energy-rich and high in fiber fruits will tide you over. Including half a medium avocado at lunch can dampen appetite for a few hours. The extra 112 calories from the avocado pale in comparison to the damage from mindless snacking in the afternoon or overeating at dinner. Avocados offer two additional benefits for metabolism and weight management: they are rich in monounsaturated fat which burns more readily than polyunsaturated or saturated fat, and they also reduce the rise of insulin following a meal.
Spicy foods2 – Multiple studies support the reduction in appetite from eating spicy foods. Eating red chili peppers, cayenne pepper, wasabi and hot sauce are all ways to reduce hunger and lower subsequent calories consumed. One study found that people who don’t eat peppers regularly experienced a decreased desire for fatty, salty and sweet foods in the 4 hours following a test meal that included 1 gram of ground cayenne pepper. Another bonus – the main component of spicy peppers, capsaicin, also slightly increases energy expenditure.
Green tea3,4 – A hormone called cholecystokinin is responsible for telling our brain that we have eaten enough. Drinking green tea increases the release of this hormone and reduces our appetite. The catechin compound in green tea is what may increase satiety. The caffeine naturally present in green tea may increase energy expenditure to boot!
Almonds5,6 – Go nuts! Considered the nut with the highest protein per calorie, almonds have a mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber that increase satiety and suppress your appetite. An ounce of almonds has about 165 calories and when eaten as a snack, reduces appetite for the next meal. Concerned with ‘extra’ calories? Nut eaters tend to compensate by lowering caloric intake later. Just keep to an ounce of almonds (about 23) that are raw or dry roasted.
Green leafy vegetables7,8 – Green leafy vegetables pack a nutrient punch and are loaded with phytochemicals such as thylakoids. For spinach, in particular, these bioactive compounds curb food intake by enhancing the production of satiety hormones, notably cholecystokinin. Thylakoids affect other hormones that are related to your appetite and desire to eat – they increase levels of leptin and reduce levels of ghrelin after a meal. If that’s not enough, the fiber and thylakoids in green leafy vegetables also slow fat digestion so lipids remain longer in the gut, signaling reward and inhibiting eating.
Other notables to include in your diet that dampen appetite: apples, barley, cinnamon, coffee, dark chocolate, eggs, high–fiber foods, flax seeds, ginger, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, rye, salmon, skim milk, sweet potatoes, tofu, vegetable juice, vegetable soup, water and whey protein.
- A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. M Wien, E Haddad, K Oda, J Sabaté. Nutrition Journal 2013 12:155. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-155
- The Effects of Hedonically Acceptable Red Pepper Doses on Thermogenesis and Appetite. Ludy MJ and Mattes RD. Physiology & Behavior 2011 Mar 1; 102(3-4): 251-258. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.11.018.
- Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. Rains TM, Agarwal S, Maki KC. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2011 Jan; 22(1): 1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.06.006.
- Effects of capsaicin, green tea and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance. Reinbach HC, et al. Clinical Nutrition 2009 Jun; 28(3): 260-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.010.
- A mid-morning snack of almonds generates satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake in healthy women. Hull S, et al. European Journal of Nutrition 2015 Aug; 54(5):803-10. doi: 10.1007/s00394-014-0759-z.
- Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial. Tan SY, Mattes RD. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013 Nov;67(11):1205-14. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.184.
- Functional properties of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) phytochemicals and bioactives. Roberts JL, Moreau R. Food & Function. 2016 Aug 10;7(8):3337-53. doi: 10.1039/c6fo00051g.
- Gut fat signaling and appetite control with special emphasis on the effect of thylakoids from spinach on eating behavior. Rebello CJ, O’Neil CE, Greenway FL . International Journal of Obesity, London. 2015 Dec; 39(12): 1679-88. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.142.