How to Reduce Hunger on a Diet

by | May 9, 2021 | Nutrition

Is this what your day looks like?

Breakfast – (CHECK)

Morning Snack – (CHECK)

Lunch – (CHECK)

3PM – RAGING Hunger

Completely blow the diet on junk food, cheap drive through meals, or really just anything you can get your hands on.

Or maybe, you absolutely crush your diet all the way through dinner, but 6:30-7:00 PM rolls around and no, I mean NO, food item in the house is safe.

Isn’t it the worst?

Aren’t you tired of ALWAYS being hungry in a diet? Hearing and feeling your stomach growl the entire day? Binging on food you know better than to get into because you just can’t fight the hunger any longer?

Unfortunately, hunger is a part of the fat loss process, BUT it doesn’t need to be our pitfall.

Because I’ve been there and know exactly what it’s like to constantly be fighting hunger, I put together this blog to give you some skills to take off the edge and help you stay on track with your fat loss success.

Why Are You Hungry on a Diet?

Like I said, hunger is a part of the fat loss process.  The process alone sets you up to face some degree of hunger – you’re adjusting the Calories In vs. Calories Out relationship to favor Calories Out which pulls your body out of homeostasis (the one thing it ALWAYS works to get back to).

But WHY? What Causes this hunger?

#1 Hormones

Hunger is controlled by 2 hormones:

  1. Ghrelin (AKA the Hunger Hormone) which is triggered for release when the stomach is empty and suppressed once it begins to fill.
  2. Leptin (AKA the Fullness Hormone) which is related to the amount of adipose (fat) tissue on your body. More adipose tissue leads to more leptin, and the less adipose tissue you have (you’re leaner), the more hungry you feel.

#2 Stretch Receptors

Your intestines are filled with stretch receptors designed to communicate to our brain that we’re full and should stop eating when the intestinal wall is stretched due to fullness.

If you just cut your calories, but never adjust your food quality, you reduce your food volume thus cutting back on the intestinal stretch.  This is why high quality, nutrient dense food is SO important during fat loss.

#3 False Hunger

Do you ever feel hungry but know that you can’t ACTUALLY be hungry? Like you just ate and 20ish minutes you’re “hungry” again?

Yea, that’s false hunger.  It’s something nearly ALL of us suffer from in some form.

Most often, it comes off as emotional hunger, wherein we feel hungry or overwhelmed with cravings because of our emotions.  For centuries, food has been turned to for comfort, celebration, or boredom.

More than likely, this is the one leading to your countless failed fat loss attempts…

How Do We Reduce It?

I know, I know.

What you really want is to know HOW to reduce or stop the hunger, so check out these 5 tips.

#1 Increase Quality & Volume

Think of this as getting the most bang for your buck.

The goal is to get the highest quality foods to fill you up with nutrients and/or high volume foods to take up a lot of space without all the calories.


  • Salads – Salads can cover both high quality and high-volume foods. Most salads are full of water, fiber, a wide mix of vegetables, and many times a lean protein source.  I’ve never seen ANYONE woof down a salad, which is another reason why it’s so beneficial for curbing hunger.
  • Fruit – Please stop thinking you CAN’T have fruit during fat loss; that’s a BIG lie in this industry. Fruits packed with water, fiber, and micronutrients, which are GREAT at filling the gut and signaling that you’re full.  Not to mention, fruit is excellent at killing a sweet tooth.  My favorite examples are berries, apples, and oranges.
  • Oatmeal – If you’re measuring your oatmeal dry (most packets and serving sizes do), then you add water, it expands for some MASSIVE volume. A half cup of oatmeal turns into just over 1 cup cooked.
  • Broth-Based Soups – Like salad, these take a LONG time to eat. Broths are very low in calorie are a great way to spice up your protein and veggie game.
  • Popcorn – Partially because I love popcorn, but also because it’s one of the highest volume foods out there. In some cases, 1 serving of popcorn is 4 cups!

#2 Increase Protein

Protein is the most satiating nutrient!

Set your protein anywhere from 0.8 to 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight to help you fill up and say full.

#3 Increase Fiber

Fiber is really growing in popularity for its contribution to hunger.

Soluble fibers mix with liquid in the gut, which forms an expansive gel.  This causes the intestine to stretch, the stretch receptors to be triggered, and for fullness to take place (WITHOUT the hunger!).

Insoluble fibers do NOT create this gel, but they do activate the stretch receptors lining your colon to help you feel fuller.

#4 Slow Down

Yikes, this is one of my BIGGEST problems.

I eat WAY too fast.

Remember, your brain takes about 20 minutes to actually realize it’s full from whatever it was just eating.

As much as we love to hurry from one activity to the next, it is really important to slow down your pace of eating so you don’t outpace your brain.

Here’s a few recommendations for slowing down:

  1. Eat with your non-dominant hand.
  2. Chew a set number of times.
  3. Eat without distraction.
  4. Set your utensil down between bites

#5 Hydrate

While water is only a temporary solution for true hunger, but it can be a great solution for helping you feel fuller

I prefer you drink straight water for this, but if flavored or sparkling water helps you to get it in more water, by all means drink it!

About The Author

Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.

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