Anyone who has tried to lose weight will tell you that dieting is hard. What makes it so hard is managing your food cravings. Everywhere you look there’s temptation: candy, chips, soda, burgers. Sure, you can turn to artificial diet pills or appetite suppressants, but these products may cause side effects, or be bad for your health when taken for long periods of time. Besides most of us would prefer to achieve our weight loss goals naturally, without turning to artificial?
Fortunately there are many natural ways to keep you appetite in check, and manage those terrible junk food cravings.
The best part is, they don’t all involve what you eat. Cravings can simply occur because of your daily routine, or they may be triggered by things like stress or boredom. Simply taking a good look at how you organize your day, what you eat, along with other factors like exercise, and making a few tweaks can keep you on track and ensure that you maximize your weight loss and maintain a healthy diet.
Unfortunately, many of our mistakes when it comes to snacking are guided by urban myths about eating and weight loss. Things like skipping breakfast or only eating one meal per day can have adverse effects and set us back in achieving our weight loss goals.
What we eat can also have a dramatic effect on how hungry we feel. High fiber foods like cereals, nuts, fruits, vegetables and beans add bulk and makes us feel more full. Strangely, dark chocolate contains chemicals that act as an appetite suppressant. Another important factor in achieving your weight loss goal is carefully monitoring the calories you consume. Research has shown that calorie intake is one of the most important aspects when trying to lose weight, and keep it off. Hot drinks like tea an coffee can also be used to stave off hunger cravings.
Here are seven natural ways that have been proven to suppress your appetite and will help you lose weight.
- Drink More Water
When you’re dehydrated, your body can confuse the sensation with hunger. Most of us probably aren’t drinking enough water anyway. Dieticians recommend that you drink at least eight glasses of water, or two liters, per day. That’s about half a gallon. It sounds like a lot, but if you break it up throughout the day, it’s quite easy to achieve. And, as a bonus, you’ll stay hydrated. One study found that people who drank two glasses of water before each meal lost more weight than people who did not drink water. Water doesn’t actually suppress your appetite, but it does fill you up, meaning you’re likely to feel less hungry. If you find tap water too boring, carbonated water can fill you up even more as it contains gas bubbles that will sit in your stomach. If you need a little flavor, add some lemon. Not only will it make it taste better, but the pectin and polyphenols found in lemons also work as natural appetite suppressants.
- Hit the Gym
There’s a myth that working out makes you hungry. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It actually works to decrease your appetite. This is thought to be because exercise changes hormone levels in the body, though the exact cause is not yet known. A recent study showed that women who walked for 45 minutes every morning were less interested in food than those who didn’t.
Though you might think you’re hungry after working out, experts say this may be a psychological effect of wanting a “reward” rather than actually needing food. Another tip when working out is to avoid drinking coffee afterwards. Not only does coffee dehydrate you, which may trigger hunger cravings, but one cup of Starbuck’s coffee can have up to 500 calories. To put that in perspective, a mild workout may only burn 450 calories.
- Power Up with a Protein Shake
Protein helps you sustain energy all day long, decreasing your need to eat bulky meals. Try a vitamin- and nutrient-rich shake like Shakeology. You can consume one instead of a meal, or drink it beforehand to reduce hunger and stop yourself overeating. Shakeology also provides a range of delicious recipes that include fruits, nuts and vegetables if you want to boost your calorie count for each shake to replace meals. Shakes like Shakeology also include a range of “superfoods” and herbs that assist in boosting the immune system and repairing cell damage in the body. We recommend using Shakeology, as it only uses natural extracts and vitamins. Some shakes can contain harsh chemicals and appetite suppressants that may have negative effects when used in the long term.
- Eat a Full Breakfast Everyday
You’ve probably been told this since you were a child—but guess what? Your parents were right. Skipping breakfast can set you off balance for the whole day and ruin your metabolism. Along with negatively impacting your weight loss plan, skipping breakfast can have a number of damaging health effects. One study found that women who regularly skip breakfast are more likely develop type 2 diabetes than women who eat breakfast on a regular basis.
Another study showed that eating breakfast everyday significantly lowered the risk of obesity in men. The reason breakfast is so important is that your insulin levels drop overnight. When you don’t eat until later in the day, it spikes, and then you’re likely to crash. You should aim to eat or consume a protein shake within an hour of waking up. High fiber foods like whole wheat cereals are ideal as they fill you up with bulk, leaving you satisfied for a few hours. And sorry, but tea or coffee is just not going to cut it., however you may want to drink green tea or coffee after your meal you keep your cravings down.
- Take a Tea Break
If you’re the type of person that’s likely to snack between meals, there’s an easy way to avoid consuming junk: make yourself a cup of tea. Drinks like green tea stop you mindlessly snacking due to the catechins that inhibit the movement of glucose into fat cells, which slows the rise of blood sugar and prevents high insulin and subsequent fat storage. More stable blood sugar means you are less likely to have hunger cravings. If you’re more of a coffee person, remember that a moderate amount of caffeine can boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite. It also contains anti-oxidants—just go easy on the cream and sugar!
- Reduce Stress
When your feeling down, strung out, or stressed, comfort food may seem like a quick fix to feeling better. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging occasionally, stress eating can be a real problem if you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off. The key is be honest, and learn to take back control. Keep a food diary so you can keep track of what you put into your body. Be sure to make a note of any triggers, such as problems at work or boredom, and figure strategies to avoid turning to food. If there are “problem foods” in your kitchen, you may have to remove them completely if you can’t control yourself.
Regular exercise is another trick that you can use to combat stress and boredom. Exercising can boost endorphins and enhance your mood. Going for a run or a workout is a great way to beat cravings and avoid snacking. By the time you get back, your you’ll be in a better mood and will be less likely to cave in to your junk food craving.
- Make Sure You Eat Regularly Throughout the Day
Often times when we’re trying to lose weight, it seems like a good idea to skip meals and generally eat less throughout the day. This is the totally wrong approach and can be a disaster. Similarly, eating one or two giant meals per day will not help you lose weight. Eating smaller meals regularly throughout the day will help you curb cravings. Maintaining insulin levels is the key to avoiding cravings. The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you get, meaning the risk of snacking is higher. After about three hours, blood sugar begins to fall, and the urge to snack increases. Many experts recommend eating six smaller meals throughout the day, while also keeping an eye on calories.