Dieting will inevitably lead to frequent hunger. And even a well-designed diet plan – one that is high in protein, focuses on high-fiber carbohydrates, and is rich in vegetables – may not be enough to combat the increased feeling of hunger throughout your diet (if these three factors aren’t in play, then you need to go back to the drawing board). If hunger is a daily occurrence, the likelihood of you straying off plan and overindulging is high, to say the least. That means you may end up negating the past week(s) hard work in a single meal!
Fortunately, there are several advanced hunger-fighting strategies that can make hunger more manageable and potentially be the difference maker in whether you’re able to successfully diet for twelve weeks versus only eight. And who knows, that may be the difference between fitting into a size four versus a size eight or having the confidence to rock a bikini on that upcoming vacation.
Put these three strategies to use each day to help you feel as if you’re not even dieting!

Before you sit down to eat a meal, drink 12 – 16 ounces of water. Drinking a large volume of fluid prior to eating begins to fill your stomach. Your empty stomach is roughly the size of your fist. But when food and fluid enters, it expands. The stomach wall contains thousands of nerve endings referred to as “stretch receptors.” When these stretch receptors are stimulated (when food and fluid push on the stomach wall), they send satiety signals to the brain indicating that there’s plenty of food and that it no longer needs to send hunger signals.
Choosing water to preload meals provides the benefit of reduced hunger at the expense of zero calories. To take this strategy one step further, consider a calorie-free carbonated drink as the added carbon dioxide will help to further expand your stomach and strengthen the satiety signals sent to your brain.


Notice how I didn’t specify caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee? That was intentional. Caffeine alone has been shown to act as an appetite suppressant, but what makes coffee even more appealing to fight hunger – given it’s a great source of caffeine – is the fact that coffee’s appetite-suppressing traits don’t rely on caffeine.1
Coffee beans contain chlorogenic compounds which are antioxidant-like compounds that may reduce your appetite. This means even those who are watching their caffeine intake, or are looking for something to help simmer their appetite shortly before bed (without needing to stay up all night), can employ coffee in the fight against hunger.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the impact caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee had on appetite.2 Subjects were fed the same light breakfast before coming to a research lab hours later (presumably very hungry). Each subject underwent a series of blood tests to measure appetite hormone levels (among other variables) before they were provided one of the following beverages:

  • Regular coffee
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Caffeine powder in water
  • Placebo

After 60 minutes of continued fasting, subjects then drank the same volume of glucose. Over the next two hours, subjects had six more blood draws and opportunities to report hunger levels.
Surprisingly, researchers observed the greatest reduction in appetite in the group that drank decaffeinated coffee compared to the other three groups. These subjects had the greatest rise in the satiety hormone peptide YY and reported the weakest appetite among groups hours later even once peptide YY had returned to baseline levels.
Researchers suspected that this was related to the chlorogenic compounds found in coffee beans, but more research is warranted to further replicate and confirm these findings. And of note, this isn’t definitive evidence that decaffeinated coffee is superior to regular coffee in fighting hunger – it’s’ only one study. But it goes to show you that both forms can lend a helping hand to your fight against hunger.


How long did it take you to eat your last meal?
Five minutes?
Maybe ten because you ate as you scrolled through The Nutrition Tactician Facebook page while eating…
Too often we’re forced to eat our meals without a second to enjoy them. This means slamming shakes between meetings, scarfing down sandwiches while driving, or sneaking protein bars in during work presentations. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good for your appetite levels.

It takes roughly 20 minutes for satiety signals to be sent from your gut to your brain. So, if your meals are lasting a quarter, or even half of that time, you’re never experiencing physical satiety. And due to the inhalation-approach you’re forced to resort to just to get calories in your body, there’s no chance you experienced psychological satiety. Heck, you probably barely tasted the food.
And to further add fuel to the fire, this behavior may happen more than once per day. Couple this with the fact that those meals you are inhaling contain minimal calories because you’re dieting, well, I’m sure you see just how disastrous this approach can be for keeping you satiated.

A study conducted at Texas Christian University sought to determine the impact eating speed had on calories consumed and satiety levels immediately after a meal and hours later.3 Subjects were divided into two groups and provided with different instructions to approach a buffet-style meal.

The first group was instructed to eat as if they were on a time constraint and to take large bites (fast group). The other group was instructed to chew each bite thoroughly and to place their utensil down in between bites (slow group). Each group was encouraged and prompted appropriately by researchers during their respective “turns.”

The fast group finished their meal in nine minutes and averaged 109 calories per minute. The slow group finished in 21 minutes and averaged 39 calories per minute. The fast group consumed 99 calories more than the slow group, which may not seem significant in one meal, but across multiple meals per day, that’s highly substantial. Even more, researchers found that those in the fast group reported feeling hungry shortly after the meal whereas the slow group did not report any hunger directly post-meal and the next few hours later.
If you never experience psychological or physical hunger after a meal, the likelihood of you indulging off-plan is greatly increased. To prevent this, slow down when eating to ensure you appreciate each bite and allow adequate time for natural satiety signals to kick in.
Put the following actions into the plan as often as you can to slow down your eating speed:

  • Cut food into pieces the size of a corn kernel
  • Chew each bite at least 15 times
  • Place your utensil down in between bites.

Is this always realistic? No. But even doing so at one meal per day can make a big difference.

1. Gavrieli, A., Karfopoulou, E., Kardatou, E., Spyreli, E., Fragopoulou, E., Mantzoros, C. S., & Yannakoulia, M. (2013). Effect of different amounts of coffee on dietary intake and appetite of normal‐weight and overweight/obese individuals. Obesity, 21(6), 1127-1132.
2. Greenberg, J. A., & Geliebter, A. (2012). Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 31(3), 160-166.
3. Rhea, D., Shah, M., Copeland, J., Dart, L., Adams-Huet, B., & James, A. (2014). Slower Eating Speed Lowers Energy Intake in Normal-Weight but not Overweight/Obese Subjects. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 393-402. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.002.