At this point, we’ve made it clear that weight loss comes down to one thing: sticking to a calorie deficit. But obviously, that’s often easier said than done ??
Cut calories, and your body is bound to rebel – overwhelming you with the most intense feelings of hunger, coupled with the strangest cravings when you're at your most vulnerable (pizza at midnight, anyone?)
And bam. You suddenly find yourself stepping back into the "calorie surplus territory". So here's the thing: how do you avoid feeling hungry all the time?
If you’ve already maxed out your daily protein intake (FYI: protein is one of the most satiating macronutrients around), consider adding the following hunger-suppressing, “metabolism-boosting” foods to your diet.
1: Green tea
Green tea’s hunger-suppressing ability lies within its caffeine content.
Beyond its ability to keep your hunger pangs at bay, green tea could also ramp up your body’s fat-burning abilities.
Several animal studies suggest that the main antioxidant found in green tea – a type of catechin called EGCG – can help inhibit an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine (a “fat-burning” hormone).
In other words: green tea could potentially increase the levels of norepinephrine in your body, promoting fat breakdown.
Before you dismiss it all as mere conjectures and hypotheses … note that research has repeatedly highlighted green tea’s appetite-suppressing and fat-burning abilities. Take this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for instance.
The researchers found that men who took green tea extract before exercise burned 17% more fat than men who didn’t take the supplement.
Various other studies support these findings, indicating that green tea may reduce appetite and make the body more effective at burning calories. This, ultimately, aids with weight loss.
But wait. How much green tea should you be drinking, exactly?
Well, that depends. In general, though, research indicates that it’s optimal to drink anywhere between 4 to 5 cups of green tea per day. Not a big fan of green tea?
That’s no problem at all – you could also consider supplementing with green tea extract instead. Since the active “ingredients” (e.g., EGCG) remain the same, you can expect it to act as a hunger suppressant in the same way green tea itself does.
Just avoid going beyond 1,200 mg of EGCG; high doses of the compound could lead to uncomfortable side effects, including nausea.
2: Cayenne pepper
Enjoy eating spicy foods?
Then you’ll rejoice in this: cayenne pepper contains something called “capsaicin” – a thermogenic chemical that not only speeds up your metabolism but also exerts potent hunger-suppressing effects (those who can’t stand eating spicy foods will agree).
Searching for research that’ll back this claim up?
Here it is. According to a 2017 study published in Food Quality and Preference, participants who consumed cayenne pepper with every meal felt more satisfied and experienced fewer cravings.
Better still: an older 2003 study found that individuals who ate fresh chili pepper raised their metabolic rate for up to 30 minutes after consuming it.
Admittedly, though, the thought of pairing every meal with cayenne pepper can be excruciating – even for the most ardent spice lovers.
Luckily, as with green tea, you don’t have to stuff your face with fresh cayenne pepper to reap its appetite-suppressing and metabolism-boosting benefits. Instead, you can opt for capsaicin supplements.
But here’s a tiny bit of disclaimer; capsaicin supplements may not be suitable for everyone.
More specifically, you should steer clear of them if you:
- Are taking medication that slows blood clotting
- Have a scheduled surgery
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Are taking medication for high blood pressure
3: All sources of capsaicin
So, if cayenne pepper owes its hunger-suppressing effects to its capsaicin content, then, technically, everything that contains capsaicin will also help curb your hunger and appetite … right?
No matter where you get your capsaicin from, studies show that consuming this compound regularly can suppress appetite, in turn, enabling you to better stick to the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.
Although, this begs the question: "Other than hot peppers, are there truly any other good sources of capsaicin?"
There are. Specifically, you can find it in the fruits of plants in the Capsicum family. That includes bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and other chili peppers. Once again, though, you should be mindful of the total amount of capsaicin you’re eating.
Capsaicin can irritate the mucous lining of your digestive tract (including the mouth, stomach, and intestines).
View eating hunger-suppressing foods as a “crutch”
Now, I’d hate to burst your bubble – but since you’ve stuck with this article thus far, here’s the most important tip for successful weight loss. When it comes to weight loss strategies, consider upping your intake of hunger-suppressing foods as a “crutch”.
It should never be your primary strategy.
That means you shouldn’t be eating a carton of donuts, 3 packs of fries, and 10 slices of pizza … then heading home to gnaw on a cayenne pepper in the hopes it’ll undo all the calories you just ingested. It doesn’t work that way.
Instead, you should always focus on the fundamentals before even considering adding “metabolic-boosting” foods to your diet.
What are the fundamentals, you ask? Here’s a (non-comprehensive) list:
- Eating in a calorie deficit while still accounting for your body’s needs for macro- and micronutrients (note: you need to have a clear “weight loss timeline” beforehand)
- Getting adequate sleep nightly – anywhere between 7 to 9 hours
- Scheduling time for recovery (e.g., active rest days, making use of recovery techniques)
- Doing a mix of strength training and cardio
Imaginably, taking care of all these can be challenging – especially if you're new to the fitness game. You're just looking to build some muscle and lose weight.
It's all too easy to get overwhelmed with the nitty-gritty details of having to plan your workout program. How many sets and reps do you need to do again? Who has the time and energy to care about that when you're struggling with your meal plans?
Luckily for you, GymStreak can help take your mind off the training portion of your fitness journey.
Our smart, AI-powered personal trainer app tailors your workouts according to your fitness level, needs, and goals – so you can concentrate on what matters: bringing the best version of yourself to your workout space. Every time you show up.
Andersen, B. V., Byrne, D. V., Bredie, W. L. P., & Møller, P. (2017). Cayenne pepper in a meal: Effect of oral heat on feelings of appetite, sensory specific desires and well-being. Food Quality and Preference, 60, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2017.03.007
Chaiyata, P., Puttadechakum, S., & Komindr, S. (2003). Effect of chili pepper (Capsicum frutescens) ingestion on plasma glucose response and metabolic rate in Thai women. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet Thangphaet, 86(9), 854–860.
Chen, S., Osaki, N., & Shimotoyodome, A. (2015). Green tea catechins enhance norepinephrine-induced lipolysis via a protein kinase A-dependent pathway in adipocytes. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 461(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.03.158
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Rogers, J., Urbina, S. L., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Purpura, M., Jäger, R., & Juturu, V. (2018). Capsaicinoids supplementation decreases percent body fat and fat mass: Adjustment using covariates in a post hoc analysis. BMC Obesity, 5, 22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40608-018-0197-1
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