I was recently asked, “How do I naturally suppress my appetite?” This is a very common concept and common question, but it is all wrong.
Eat less = weigh less … sort of works but it can break your hormones and metabolism.
However, there is a lot more that goes into weight loss, appetite, and overeating than merely cutting back on portion sizes. So, I have devised a little four-step action guide to help you naturally (and without torture) cut portion size.
Step # one – Eat food, and I mean FOOD.
The number one reason that people overeat is that their bodies are physically hungry. Your body requires nutrients and by that, I mean a LOT of them. It needs vitamins and minerals to turn fats, carbs, and proteins into energy, and it needs the energy to survive and feel satiated.
When you are not getting enough nutrients the body will do the only thing it can how to get them … make you hungry.
Hunger is not a bad thing, hunger is a friend designed to help you figure out what your body needs. When you try to fill yourself on pasta, bread and nutritionally void vegetables (such as canned, or vegetables grown with poor quality soil), overcooked meats and leftovers you are eating foods that have very little nutritional quality. These “foods” will not nourish you and your body will continue to crave sustenance.
- High-quality vegetables, grown locally that haven’t traveled for a long time (losing their nutrients along the way).
- Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocados, and nuts.
- Grass-fed, free-roaming meat. Meat that hasn’t been raised on antibiotics (which destroys the healthy bacteria responsible for creating vitamins), and fed things such as candy (6 lbs per day is the legal upper limit of candy allowed to be fed to a cow in the United States)… yes, you read that correctly. Candy is fed to cows!
You are what you eat, eats …
Food means something that rots and goes bad naturally, and something that was recently ‘alive’. For example, a tomato that was recently picked, or a fish that was recently caught… not a pizza that’s been frozen for weeks.
If it has never taken a breath or synthesized light, then it is not food.
You might be thinking … “well a potato was once alive therefor a potato chip must be good for me,” wrong! A potato was once alive … a potato chip was NEVER alive!
If you are overeating out of pure physical hunger it is time to evaluate the nutrient quality of your food. I even recommend going so far as to get a vitamin and mineral workup done by your Dr. to see if you are lacking any specific nutrients.
Step # two – Evaluate your lifestyle.
Stress, exercise, a lack of sleep, dehydration and too much sugar all pull vitamins and minerals from the body, bones, teeth, and bloodstream. If you read the above section and thought, “I think I eat great but I am still hungry”, then perhaps this lifestyle factor pertains to you.
Remember if you need more nutrients your body will try to get them by making you feel hungry. A high-quality multivitamin is a great insurance policy against excessive hunger when you have a stressful lifestyle.
These are a great option here.
Step # three – What is your blood sugar doing?
Blood sugar highs and lows are a massive factor when it comes to an uncontrollable appetite. If you are eating sugar (even sneaky sugar) throughout the day, you have found your culprit!
6-8g of added sugar a day is what is recommended, most salad dressings exceed this. Start taking a look at the labels. Trust me you will be shocked!
4g of sugar equals 1 tsp.
Fruit can be a culprit too. Some of the worst diet advice I hear people give is “get your five servings of fruits and veggies a day.” This advice is misleading. Fruits and Vegetables are not the same thing and should not be grouped as one! You should be eating far more vegetables than fruits and eating low glycemic fruits.
If you feel that your hunger is totally out of control, cut out all sugar (including fruit) for three days. This protocol will reset your leptin levels (hunger hormone), and get you back into a more balanced, controlled state.
Following this protocol, each meal should consist of 60% veggies, 20% fats, and 20% protein. Clean carbs such as quinoa, sweet potato, and rice are welcome too as long as they are eaten in balance, not excess. This recommendation, of course, can and should vary for different bodies at different ages and stages, but it is a great guideline. Try to keep everything balanced. For example add nuts and coconut oil to your oatmeal to make it more complete, spread almond butter and cinnamon on your apple to slow down the sugar spike. When you sit down to a meal, eat your protein first and then move on to your carbs.
Step # four – really look at why you want to suppress your appetite.
Are you trying to suppress your appetite because you are eating too much, or because you want to cut back on your food intake to lose weight? If you are trying to stay in a ridiculous calorie deficit, expect to be hungry!
According to my nutrition intake, I am supposed to eat 1400 calories a day – I can tell you one thing, this is incredibly hard (close to impossible) and at this level of caloric intake, I become far too thin and weak.
*The world health organization offers aid to countries and areas getting below 2100 calories per day. Anything below 2100 is considered starving *
So ask yourself, are you really eating too much or are you trying to live within a ridiculous caloric intake range? If you really are eating too much and want to cut back are you overeating because of an emotional, or physical hunger? Do you actually know what hunger feels like? The majority of us don’t anymore.
If you are trying to suppress your appetite to lose weight it is important that you evaluate what you are truly eating and how to lose the weight the right way. Remember, calories don’t matter because your body is REALLY bad at math! Quality matters. Cutting back on food is not the answer to weight loss, there are a lot of different techniques that will last a lifetime and create health and weight loss in a sustainable and enjoyable way.
So let’s get a few things clear.
- You do not need to suppress your appetite to lose weight.
- If you are overly hungry, eating more food might be the answer. Because eating more food, when done right, does not equal weight gain.
- Being hungry is not a bad thing. Hunger is a natural and essential state. Hunger is not a foe, it is a friend. It is a very essential and smart instinct designed to keep you alive. If you feel your appetite is out of control, evaluate why and address the root cause, not the symptom that is hunger.
- If you do all of these things and are still excessively hungry, evaluate your boredom level. Boredom is a huge cause of overeating.
- And finally, learn what hunger actually feels like. We often confuse other needs such as thirst, pain, frustration, and depression for hunger.
It is essential to get in touch with your body, your true hunger, and your appetite, for not just food, but also for life. Appetite suppression is not the answer; feeding the hunger, wherever that may stem from, is.