Occasionally, you might find yourself right in front of the fridge right after a meal. During these moments, you might not be genuinely hungry, yet you feel the urge to eat. Since controlling these feelings can occasionally be difficult, this brings us to the topic of natural appetite-suppressant foods. Let's find out about natural appetite-suppressant foods and bioactive compounds that have been scientifically proven.
The first step in managing your hunger is to eat a balanced diet rich in fiber, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
There are several natural foods with special bioactive compounds that can also contribute to satiety by stimulating your hormones, regulating blood sugar, or gastric emptying.
Appetite-suppressant bioactive compounds can be found in many different foods. At the same time, a food may contain more than one appetite suppressant compound.
In simple terms, appetite encompasses two primary aspects: satiation and satiety. Hunger is the conscious experience that drives our desire to eat and influences our eating behavior. The quantity of food we eat indicates how strong this drive is. However, the focus of scientific studies is primarily on the mental urge to eat (motivation) and the actual sensation of hunger itself.
Understanding the basics of satiety
To fully comprehend the concept of hunger and satiety and derive benefits from bioactive compounds, it is essential first to understand where the feeling of satiety during meals originates. By grasping these fundamental principles, it is easier to harness the potential of other bioactive substances.
Satiety, fullness, and satisfaction following a meal represent a multifaceted physiological and psychological response that helps regulate our food intake and overall energy balance. Several key components contribute to the sensation of satiety:
1. Hormonal signals. Four main hormones related to hunger and satiety include leptin, ghrelin, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin. These hormones play crucial roles in regulating appetite and promoting satiety.
- Leptin. Elevated levels of leptin generally signify sufficient energy reserves in the body, leading to reduced appetite and increased feelings of fullness.
- Ghrelin. Ghrelin is the "hunger hormone." The stomach produces it and signals hunger to the brain. Ghrelin levels rise before meals, promoting appetite, and decrease after eating, contributing to feelings of satiety. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can significantly affect hunger by leading to an increase in ghrelin levels.
- Peptide YY, GLP-1, and Cholecystokinin. The digestive system releases these hormones, especially in reaction to dietary intake. Elevated levels of these satiety hormones contribute to feelings of fullness and appetite regulation.
2. Stretch Receptors. The stomach contains stretch receptors that sense its volume and distension. As the stomach fills with food, these receptors send signals to the brain. In contrast, the stomach expands, contributing to feelings of fullness.
3. Nutrient Sensing. The small intestine has nutrient sensors that detect the presence of nutrients, such as glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. When these sensors are activated, they signal to the brain that the body is receiving nutrients, promoting satiety.
4. Blood Sugar Regulation. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for regulating hunger and satiety. After a meal, blood sugar levels rise, triggering the release of insulin, which helps transport glucose into cells for energy. This can lead to increased feelings of fullness.
Key nutrients for satiety
Following the fundamental principles mentioned above, achieving proper appetite control begins with maintaining a balanced diet throughout the day.
Before exploring specific appetite-suppressant foods, it is crucial to address three critical aspects of your diet:
- Focus on protein intake. If you consistently experience hunger, it's essential to assess your daily protein intake. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, play a central role in creating feelings of satiety.
- Increase fiber intake. As previously mentioned, meal volume is a critical factor in achieving satiety. Increasing meal volume without increasing calorie intake is possible by consuming high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods activate stretch receptors in the digestive system, sending signals to the brain that you are full.
- Choose healthy carbohydrates. Blood sugar levels are a primary factor in regulating hunger. Therefore, careful attention to your carbohydrate consumption is essential. Opt for healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which are low-glycemic-index foods that help regulate blood sugar throughout the day. The glycemic index ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with low-glycemic-index foods having little impact on blood sugar levels.
Bioactive appetite suppressant foods
When we are talking about appetite-suppressant foods, we mean the bioactive species inside those foods that help trigger physiological signals for satiety scientifically.
The main bioactive compounds are:
- Gallic acid
Here is a list of foods that contain these specific species. However, keep in mind that these are only a few instances and that these bioactive substances are present in a wide variety of foods.
1. Green tea for Epigallocatechin
You may see green tea in every weight loss diet or piece of advice. Green tea, particularly its primary compound epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), improves insulin sensitivity and increases levels of GLP-1. This hormone plays a role in appetite control.
2. Grape seed for Anthocyanins
It has been proposed that anthocyanins function as blood satiation agents, slowing down stomach emptying and enhancing feelings of fullness. Grape seeds are one of the good sources for it. You can choose grapes with seeds rather than seedless grapes from now on.
3. Cinnamon for Polyphenol
Cinnamon is a well-studied spice in the scientific field. It may delay the rate of gastric emptying and reduce post-meal hunger by affecting insulin and GLP-1 concentrations, which leads to satiety for longer.
4. Chili peppers for Capsaicin
Capsaicin found in chili peppers, such as nonivamide, has been shown to increase GLP-1 levels, reducing total energy intake from a meal.
5. Oats for β-Glucan
You cannot think of a diet without oatmeal, right? It has been discovered that in overweight adults, the soluble fiber B-glucan derived from oats increases plasma PYY levels—a hormone linked to appetite suppression—in a dose-dependent manner.
6. Pomegranate for Gallic Acid
Pomegranate decreases fasting serum glucose levels and controls blood sugar spikes as it contains anthocyanins and tannins such as gallic acids. This is also why pomegranate is good for anti-diabetic actions.
7. Olive or olive oil for Oleuropein
Oleuropein is the most important bioactive and phenolic compound of olive oil and its leaves. The consumption of olive oil has been correlated with longevity and associated with a reduction in the risk of morbidity and mortality.
The bioactive compounds of olive oil are shown to contribute to weight management in obese patients. However, due to its high-calorie content, you should watch the amount of olive oil you use. But it is a healthy fat, and you can simply change the fats you use in cooking to olive oil for its benefits.
8. Apple for Quercetin
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Yes, apple consumption is one of the best-studied foods for weight loss and the prevention of chronic diseases. With several other apple components, quercetin helps promote satiety and contributes to weight management, obesity prevention, and obesity's metabolic consequences.
The last words
You can harness the potential of natural appetite-suppressant foods to manage your appetite and promote a healthy eating routine by understanding the principles of satiety and incorporating the right nutrients into your diet. These bioactive compounds in various foods offer promising results for better control over your hunger and satiety cues.
- Medicines. Functional Foods and Bioactive Compounds: A Review of Its Possible Role on Weight Management and Obesity’s Metabolic Consequences.
- Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Satiety-enhancing products for appetite control: science and regulation of functional foods for weight management.
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Natural Dietary Products and Their Effects on Appetite Control.