5 ways to turn off your hunger switch
Leicester Therapy Centre
What if curbing your appetite were as easy as turning off the lights? It is when you use your brain – not your stomach – to feel full.
Wouldn’t it be great to have your cake, eat it too – and still lose weight? You can as long as your brain is getting the message that you’re satisfied after a few delicious bites. The trouble happens when your brain doesn’t get the “I’m full” message and tells your body it’s still hungry. Sure, there’s always will power. But when you’re fighting your brain chemistry, it’s never a fair fight.
Research reveals that it’s your brain—not your stomach—that is Command Central for weight management. “It’s the single most exciting breakthrough in weight management in the last 10-plus years, and yet, no one is talking about it,” says Doug Kalman, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.C.N., director of the Phase I Clinical Research unit of Miami Research Associates, a research site that’s been part of some of the biggest health breakthroughs in the past 25 years.
After years of seeing less than satisfying results with gut-based diet systems, scientists started looking at the brain for answers. The breakthrough came when researchers finally discovered that the brain uses a type of messaging system – think of it as “texting”- to determine when and what to eat, and when you’re hungry and when you’re not.
“This understanding of what was always considered a very complex science now allows people to take a simple approach to weight management that doesn’t ask them to change their lifestyle,” says Kalman. “It’s something everyone can do.” When used in tandem with smart eating and exercise, bolstering your personal will power with a brain that’s also on board can boost weight-loss goals big time. Here are five simple strategies to help you get started!
1 Fill Up on Fibre and Water
Fibre and water trigger feelings of fullness and reduce hunger by sending a “YOU’RE FULL!” text to the brain. In fact, researchers at Penn State found that when people consumed a small or moderate amount of a fibre-rich liquid 15 minutes before a meal, it markedly reduced caloric intake (by 20%).
Have a cup of clear soup with veggies 15 minutes before a meal. No time to prepare soup? Drink a fibre supplement stirred into a glass of water for a similar effect.
2 Get a Good Night’s Sleep
People who get inadequate sleep, that is, six hours or less per night, have increased amounts of the hormone ghrelin when they wake up the next morning, says Christopher Nolte, M.D., a neurologist who holds certifications from both The American Board of Sleep Medicine and The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Think of ghrelin as the text that the stomach sends to the brain, saying it needs food. “When the brain gets the message, it texts back, ‘OK, let’s eat,’ and you typically go looking for carbs,” says Nolte. “The reality is, you don’t need to eat carbs right then, despite what your brain is telling you.”
“Allow yourself seven hours or more of sleep,” says Nolte. And when you get the carb cravings, have water or a cup of green tea instead.
3 Punch Up Your Polyphenols
Green teas, along with other polyphenol rich foods (most notably those with high levels of two types of polyphenols—anthocyanins and stilbenes) have been shown to be very good at turning off the hunger switch. Stilbenes are found in grapes, blueberries and cranberries. The best-known stilbene is the anti-ageing compound resveratrol, most notably found in red grapes and red wine. Anthocyanins are present in popular superfruits such as acai berries, bilberries and blueberries. In a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that purified berry anthocyanins normalized the fat levels in mice that were fed a high-fat diet. Scientists attribute this effect to the ability of anthocyanins to assist cells in burning energy, inducing satiety and, ultimately, turning off the hunger switch.
Increase your intake of green tea and berries.
4 Don’t Buy These
Some ingredients turn on your hunger switch, so it pays to read labels. Some of the worst offenders: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and palmitic acid (the main fat in palm oil, palm kernel oil and a saturated fat in beef). These troublemakers stop the hormones leptin and insulin, two of the brain’s most important “hunger messengers,” from reaching Command Central. When leptin and insulin are blocked from the brain, the brain tells you to keep eating, which can mean the difference between having a few chips and eating half the bag. In fact, in a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that palmitic acid’s ability to block leptin and insulin was so great that it may accelerate both obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Avoid processed foods which may contain these offenders and choose whole, fresh, unadulterated foods. Shop the perimeter of your supermarket, where the least processed foods are found. Reduce your intake of beef and opt for “grass-fed” beef, which naturally contains less of the problematic saturated fat.
5 Power up Your Protein
While increasing your consumption of protein can satiate your appetite, one of protein’s building blocks, namely the amino acid tyrosine works as a neurotransmitter, speeding up messages to the brain that turn off the desire for food. That means with tyrosine, whether in food or supplements, cravings end faster and fewer calories are consumed.
In addition, protein will turn off your hunger switch to a greater extent than carbohydrates or fat, so replacing some carbs with protein may help to reduce your overall caloric intake. Eat a minimum of 20g of protein at each main meal.