General Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Praveena Kuchipudi, INFS Faculty
Author: Praveena Kuchipudi
Hunger is a signal for the body to eat food for the maintenance of functions. When would hunger strike depends on a lot of factors such as quality and quantity of the foods. People with eating disorders also would involve in eating at random that leads to overconsumption of food and eventually gaining weight. When such people start with a weight loss diet, due to decrease in the amount of food they consume, their hunger increases. Let’s discuss managing hunger in different situations.
Stress can also increase the hormone cortisol, which will have a negative effect on the body composition. Less sleep also contributes to the increased levels of hunger.
People who have bad diet history where they had been consuming very less and low nutritional food will also experience more hunger levels. Those who are in large calorie deficit or hypocaloric diet, experience more hunger. Hunger level can also increase in the form of cravings due to fluctuations in the hormones.
Body weight and regulation of food intake are guarded by two hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin. They are the satiety and hunger hormones, respectively. Once the food nutrients are released in the intestine in their simpler forms, the hypothalamus, a part of the brain signals the release of the hormones, where leptin will be elevated that tells the body that it is full and ghrelin decreases, resulting in the suppression of hunger. In people who have high BMI or in obese category, though leptin levels are high due to high presence of body fat (leptin is secreted by fat cell), and ghrelin decreases, they still cannot have a control on their eating pattern due to a condition called ‘leptin resistance’.
When a person is in calorie-deficit or fat-loss phase and losing weight, he loses the fat mass. Since the fat cells (adipocytes) produce leptin, its secretion also decreases and simultaneously increasing the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’.
Whatever is the goal, let's look at on how to manage hunger with the food choices and other various ways.
Strategies to control hunger
- Include foods that give fullness or satiety
Consume foods that are nutrient dense with fiber, that have high-volume and give fullness in the stomach or satiety compared to calorie dense and low-volume foods. Ex: Fruits and vegetables compared to calorie dense low-volume nuts
- Include adequate protein or increase the protein wherever required.
Since we understand that protein has the highest satiety, increase the protein intake. Protein supplements like whey, casein can be used to make milkshakes combining with other filling foods like fruits.
- Consume foods that are low palatable
Ex: Whole potatoes instead of potato chips
- Balancing of all macronutrients in each meal for fullness.
Include even proportions of the total protein in each meal along with carbohydrates and fats that can help avoid the cravings.
- Pre-portioning of foods
One can pre-portion or set aside some foods to consume during a particular timing of hunger or cravings. Ideally, fruits and vegetables that gives satiety.
- Liquid foods
Consuming foods in the form of liquids such as vegetable soups or fruit juices, and fruits that have high water content.
- Eating adequate fiber
Consuming foods that have good fiber can also help with curbing hunger as a suppressant.
- Consumption of caffeine
Caffeine has been found as appetite suppressant, and it can help you reduce the hunger.
- Calorie-free drinks
Consume calorie-free drinks during the hunger timings.
- Klok, M. D., Jakobsdottir, S. and Drent, M. L. (2007) ‘The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review’, Obesity Reviews, 8(1), pp. 21–34. doi: 10.1111/J.1467-789X.2006.00270.X.
- Israetel, M. et al. (2020) The renaissance diet 2.0 : your scientific guide to fat loss, muscle gain & performance.
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