10 Science Based Ways to Reduce Hunger and Appetite

To lose weight, you generally need to reduce your daily calorie intake.

Unfortunately, weight loss diets often lead to increased appetite and severe hunger.

This can make it extremely difficult to lose weight and keep it off.

Here is a list of 18 science-based ways to reduce excessive hunger and appetite:

1. Eat Enough Protein

Adding more protein to your diet can increase feelings of fullness, make you eat less at your next meal and help you lose fat (1Trusted Source2).

For instance, a weight loss study compared two breakfasts identical in calories: one consisting of eggs, the other of bagels.

Participants who had the egg breakfast lost 65% more weight and 16% more body fat over the eight-week study period (3Trusted Source).

In addition, a high protein intake may help to prevent muscle loss when daily calories are reduced for weight loss (4Trusted Source).

Making protein about 20–30% of your total calorie intake, or 0.45-0.55 g/lb of body weight (1.0–1.2 g/kg), seems sufficient to provide the benefits (4Trusted Source).

BOTTOM LINE:Getting sufficient protein in your diet can help promote weight loss, partly by decreasing your appetite.

2. Opt for Fiber-Rich Foods

A high fiber intake stretches the stomach, slows its emptying rate and influences the release of fullness hormones (5Trusted Source6).

In addition, fiber can ferment in the bowel. This produces short-chain fatty acids thought to further help promote feelings of fullness (78).

In fact, a recent review reports that adding fiber-rich beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils to your meal can increase feelings of fullness by 31%, compared to equivalent meals that aren’t based on beans (9).

Fiber-rich whole grains can also help reduce hunger and keep you feeling full (7).

Eating an extra 14 grams of fiber each day may decrease your calorie intake by up to 10%. Over 3.8 months, this could lead to a loss of up to 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg) (10Trusted Source).

However, more recent reviews observe less dramatic effects. This may have to do with the different types of fiber studied (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

More viscous types of fiber like pectins, beta-glucans and guar gum seem more filling than less viscous types of fiber (12Trusted Source13Trusted Source14).

What’s more, few negative effects have been linked to high-fiber diets. Fiber-rich foods often contain many other beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and helpful plant compounds (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

Therefore, opting for a diet containing sufficient fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds can also promote long-term health.

BOTTOM LINE:Eating a fiber-rich diet can decrease hunger and help you eat fewer calories. It can also promote long-term health.

3. Pick Solids Over Liquids

Solid calories and liquid calories can affect appetite differently.

One recent review found that compared to a solid snack, people who ate a liquid snack were 38% less likely to compensate by eating less at the next meal (15Trusted Source).

In a second study, participants who were fed a semi-solid snack reported less hunger, a lower desire to eat and a greater sensation of fullness than those fed a liquid snack (16Trusted Source).

Solids require more chewing, which can grant more time for the fullness signal to reach the brain (17Trusted Source).

Scientists also believe the extra chewing time allows solids to stay in contact with the taste buds for longer, which can also promote feelings of fullness (18Trusted Source).

BOTTOM LINE:Eating your calories rather than drinking them can help you eat less without feeling more hungry.

4. Drink Coffee

Coffee has many benefits for health and sports performance — and may also help decrease your appetite.

Research shows that coffee increases the release of peptide YY (PYY). This hormone is produced in the gut in response to eating and promotes a feeling of fullness (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

Scientists believe that PYY levels play an important role in determining how much you’re likely to eat (21Trusted Source).

Interestingly, decaffeinated coffee may produce the highest reduction in hunger, with effects that last up to three hours after consumption (19Trusted Source).

However, more studies are required to pinpoint exactly how this works.

BOTTOM LINE:Drinking coffee, especially decaf, could help reduce hunger for up to three hours.

5. Fill Up on Water

Drinking water can help decrease the hunger you feel before meals.

It may also increase feelings of fullness following a meal and promote weight loss (22Trusted Source).

In fact, studies show that people who drink two glasses of water immediately before a meal eat 22% less than those who don’t drink any water (23Trusted Source).

Scientists believe that about 17 oz (500 ml) of water is sufficient to stretch the stomach enough to send signals of fullness to the brain (23Trusted Source).

That said, water is also known to empty from the stomach quickly. For this tip to work, it may be best to drink the water as close to the meal as possible.

Interestingly, starting your meal with soup may act in the same way.

Researchers observed that eating a bowl of soup immediately before a meal decreased hunger and reduced total calorie intake from the meal by about 100 calories (24Trusted Source).

BOTTOM LINE:Drinking low-calorie liquids before a meal can help you eat fewer calories without leaving you hungry.

6. Eat Mindfully

Under normal conditions, your brain knows whether you’re hungry or full.

However, eating quickly or while you’re distracted can make it more difficult for your brain to recognize these signals.

Solve this problem by eliminating distractions and focusing on the foods in front of you — a key aspect of mindful eating.

Research shows that practicing mindfulness during meals can help people experience more pleasure while eating. This can help keep the focus on quality rather than quantity, and reduces binge eating behavior (25Trusted Source).

There also seems to be a link between hunger, fullness and what your eyes see.

One experiment offered two identical milkshakes to participants. One was called a “620-calorie indulgence,” while the other was given a “120-calorie sensible” label.

Although both groups consumed the same amount of calories, hunger hormone levels dropped more for those who believed they drank the “indulgent” drink (26Trusted Source).

Believing that a drink contains more calories can also activate the brain areas linked to feeling full (27Trusted Source).

How full you feel may be influenced by what you see, and paying attention to what you eat can be very beneficial.

BOTTOM LINE:Eating mindfully has been shown to decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness. It can also reduce calorie intake and help prevent binge eating.

7. Indulge in Dark Chocolate

The bitterness of dark chocolate is thought to help decrease appetite and diminish cravings for sweets (28Trusted Source).

Researchers also believe the stearic acid in dark chocolate can help slow digestion, further increasing feelings of fullness (29Trusted Source30Trusted Source).

Interestingly, the simple act of smelling this treat might produce the same effect.

One study observed that simply smelling 85% dark chocolate decreased both appetite and hunger hormones just as much as actually eating it (31Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, further studies are needed to examine the effects of dark chocolate on feelings of fullness.

BOTTOM LINE:Eating or even just smelling dark chocolate may help diminish appetite and cravings for sweets.

8. Eat Some Ginger

Ginger has been linked to many health benefits. These include reductions in nausea, muscle pain, inflammation and blood sugar levels (32Trusted Source33Trusted Source34Trusted Source35Trusted Source).

Interestingly, recent research adds another benefit to the list: hunger reduction.

One study found that consuming 2 grams of ginger powder diluted in hot water at breakfast reduced the hunger participants felt after the meal (36Trusted Source).

However, this study was small and more research in humans is needed before strong conclusions can be reached.

BOTTOM LINE:Ginger may help decrease feelings of hunger, but more research is needed to confirm this effect.

9. Spice Up Your Meals

Ginger may not be the only hunger-reducing spice.

A recent review examined the effects of capsaicin, found in hot peppers, and capsiate, found in sweet peppers.

It found these compounds may help decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness (37Trusted Source).

What’s more, the ability of these compounds to generate heat may also increase the number of calories burned after a meal (37Trusted Source).

However, these effects have not been seen in all studies and remain small. In addition, people who eat these foods often may develop a tolerance to the effects.

BOTTOM LINE:Compounds found in hot and sweet peppers may help curb hunger and increase fullness, but further research is needed.

10. Eat on Smaller Plates

Reducing the size of your dinnerware can help you unconsciously reduce your meal portions. This is likely to help you consume less food without feeling deprived (38).

Interestingly, this effect can fool even the most aware eater.

For instance, a study observed that even nutrition experts unconsciously served themselves 31% more ice cream when given larger bowls (39Trusted Source).

Another study further reported that participants who served themselves snacks from large bowls ate 142 calories more than those who ate from smaller bowls (40Trusted Source).

BOTTOM LINE:Eating from smaller plates may help you unconsciously eat less without increasing your feelings of hunger.