So you are cutting or maybe clean bulking …
And you’re following a restricted-calorie diet to help you achieve your goals.
You take a walk and pass by the burger joint around the corner …
And the smell hits you!
Fresh french fries straight out of the air drier.
You pretend to ignore it.
You go home and all you do is look at pictures of french fries.
You go to bed, and salty fries are chasing you in your dreams.
If you can’t stop reminiscing about food and looking for ways to suppress your appetite, this post is for you.
But first, how would you know it’s the appetite and not hunger that is causing your brain to think about food?
Let’s address this important question first.
Hunger Vs Appetite - What's the difference?
It is important to recognize the difference between hunger vs. appetite. It makes a huge difference in your eating habits as a bodybuilder.
Therefore, you can think of hunger as an essential physiological signal necessitating food supply to the body, while appetite is related to the “desire” to eat.
What triggers hunger in the brain?
Hunger is controlled by a hormone called Ghrelin. The hunger hormone.
It is produced in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
When your stomach is empty, the GI tract contracts, and high levels of Ghrelin are released.
Once the hypothalamus in your brain receives the Ghrelin message, it tells your GI to increase the secretion of gastric acid which signals the body the need for food intake.
When you eat and your stomach is stretched from the food, the release of Ghrelin stops.
You are no longer hungry.
Hunger is a bad sign for bodybuilders and weightlifters.
It is critical to control your appetite and, at the same time, not getting into hunger mode when dieting or clean bulking and
If you are a skinny lifter or a hardgainer, it is very important to consume enough food even if you don’t have the appetite.
What triggers appetite in the brain?
This is called the appetite hormone. It is released from the fat cells and signals to the hypothalamus in the brain to eat more food.
It was shown that when Leptin levels are low, a greater appetite is stimulated.
Some studies suggested that a high-intensity workout leads to an increase in Leptin levels causing your appetite to be suppressed.
10 Ways to Suppress The Appetite When Dieting
Now I’m going to share with you some tested tips on how to suppress and control your appetite when dieting.
I am not going to tell you to eat more protein …. Duh!
You come here because you’re a serious lifter and know the importance of protein.
Aside from being essential for building muscle, protein helps with satiety by improving leptin sensitivity which suppresses the appetite.
This is why a high-protein diet is important for losing weight.
With that aside, I’m going to give you some strategic action items to implement around three main categories:
Nutrition, workout, and supplements.
Let’s dive in.
4 Nutrition Tips to Suppress Appetite When Dieting
The type and timing of nutrition play the biggest role in suppressing the appetite when dieting.
Have fats in every meal, especially around your workout.
I am talking about healthy monounsaturated-omega-3-containing fats, of course, especially nuts, olives, MCT oil, and avocados.
I am assuming here you also have carbohydrates and protein in all of your meals, especially before and after the workout. But why?
For two reasons:
First, carbohydrates increase insulin sensitivity.
Insulin commands the pancreas to release glucose in the bloodstream. However, because carbohydrates are absorbed at a relatively fast rate, glucose levels in the blood drop fast once absorption is complete and carbohydrates are digested.
When this happens you feel as if you “crashed” and have low energy. So you eat more.
Adding fats to the carbohydrates keeps the insulin and glucose levels sustained in the blood. This is because fat is absorbed at a much slower rate than carbohydrates.
Second, the inclusion of healthy fats increases the levels of Leptin (the hormone responsible for the appetite).
When your meals have very zero to low-fat amounts, Leptin decreases which signals to your brain to eat more even if you have just eaten.
Replace your regular carbs with high-fiber ones.
Think whole grains: Sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes. Brown rice instead of white rice.
High-fiber foods usually have higher food volumes for the same amount of calories. So they help stretch your stomach and stop Ghrelin release.
Have a sweet tooth? Replace some of the fruits with dark chocolate with higher cocoa concentration (contains high-fibers amount as opposed to milk chocolate).
Do proper meal planning and consume small but more frequent meals distributed across the day.
By constantly feeding your body smaller meals, your stomach is always stretched which stops the release of Ghrelin.
Drink diet soda!
2 Workout Tips to Suppress Appetite When Dieting
Yes, training indeed helps suppress your appetite.
The following are a couple of strategic ways to modify your training in order to maximize appetite control.
Have fewer rest days.
One way to help suppress your appetite on your days off is to have only one rest day a week.
This one comes in as a surprise, I know.
But the truth is, your appetite is very high on rest days.
Some studies show that workouts (especially high intensity) suppress the appetite by increasing Leptin levels in the blood.
That’s why you don’t have an appetite to eat a post-workout meal, despite its importance.
Alternatively, do cardio on rest days if you can.
Some lifters prefer to have more rest days (2-3 days) but include low-intensity steady-state cardio.
The main reason for doing this is that they feel way less hungry.
Other studies suggest that the accumulation of lactic acids is correlated with appetite suppression but causality has not been substantiated.
4 Supplement Tips to Suppress Appetite When Dieting
Here are the 4 recommended supplements that help suppress your appetite.
Two Amino Acids: Arginine and Lysine.
Remember the hypothalamus? The cells in the brain that receive the signal from Leptin (the appetite hormone) and Gherlin (the hunger hormone), and ask your body to eat.
It was shown in a study published in Molecular Metabolism that the Hypothalamus Tanycytes cells detect amino acids, particularly Arginine and Lysine, and release information to suppress your appetite.
Another study that arrived at a similar conclusion is here: https://www.nature.com/articles/233341a0
Remember dark chocolate that was recommended to include in your diet?
Chocamine is a cocoa extract without the extra calories from chocolate.
It contains substances that promote fat burning and appetite suppression. Feel free to add it to your cup of coffee.
Nicotine is known to be an appetite suppressant. It also contains lipolytic which promotes fat-burning.
Try to consume only a maximum of 3 pieces of nicotine gum per day. This is because some lifters reported addiction in rare cases.