How to Decrease Your Appetite: Top 10 Ways to Control and Kill Cravings

  • By Performance Lab
  • 8 minute read
How to Decrease Your Appetite: Top 10 Ways to Control and Kill Cravings

Picture this: you've recently started a new diet, and for weeks you've been doing great—eating your veggies, getting enough protein, and cutting back on the sweets. Then one day, you get this intense, insatiable craving that you can't seem to get rid of - so you give in.Is this you? If so, don't worry. It happens to the best of us.Cravings suck—there's no doubt about that. And when you're unable to control your appetite, you wonder if something's wrong with you.

But trust us when we say that it's probably not you, it's more likely what you're eating (or not eating) and other lifestyle choices that contribute to imbalances.

And we all know that a failure to eat the right foods can wreak havoc with your metabolism.

Luckily, eating plenty of foods with high thermic effect can help to combat this issue, as can taking further steps to control your cravings, which we'll look into in the following article.

What Are Cravings?

You're probably well aware of what cravings feel like because, like most people, you'll have had them at some point.Cravings are an intense desire for a specific food. For some people, it's sugar or anything sweet, while for others it's fatty foods and salt.

And this craving rarely disappears until you satisfy it. But there are specific reasons why we crave what we do.

The brain and your cravings

There isn't a direct consensus as to exactly why we get cravings, but they do have something to do with the activation of the brain region that regulates memory, pleasure, and reward. The hypothalamus and brainstem are the regions responsible for energy homeostasis, whereas reward and motivation aspects of eating behaviour are controlled by the limbic regions and cerebral cortex 1. Both of these are involved. When we eat food, hormones are released that tell us we're satiated, and when we're hungry, another hormone is released that tells us so.

These feelings of satiety and hunger are controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin, which are released in response to food intake, or lack of food intake.

What Causes Cravings?

While you may blame yourself for giving in to the cravings for pizza, chocolate cake, or that donut that you couldn't resist with your coffee, it's really not your fault. Cravings are usually a signal from your body that something isn't quite right. Our bodies are a super intricate machine that doesn't make mistakes and never leads you in the wrong direction. After all, it's always trying to maintain balance and keep you alive. And because everything is so interconnected, when one system is out of balance it can throw off every other system, which affects everything from how we breathe, hear, smell, and taste, to how we feel, act, and yes, experience hunger. Next time you get a craving, take a step back and think about what it is you're craving and why. Looking at what it is will give you some sign of what you might be missing.

10 Ways to Control and Kill Cravings

In no specific order, here are 10 tried-and-true strategies to control and kill cravings—for good.

1. Don't be afraid of fat

Out of all three macronutrients, fat is the best in terms of satiety. At 9 calories per gram, it not only provides the highest amount of energy, but it also takes the longest to digest. Fat also elicits minimal effect on blood glucose levels. Whereas carbohydrates break down rapidly into glucose and cause a drastic spike in blood glucose and insulin, fat doesn't appear to do. However, be mindful that long-term consumption of a high-fat diet may play a role in the development of insulin resistance.

Research suggests that a diet high in fat, especially saturated, may disrupt cell signaling and can cause reduced sensitivity to insulin 2.To help curb craving and balance out your appetite, load up on healthy fats. This includes things like avocado, coconut, olive, full-fat organic dairy, eggs, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Aim to have 1-2 tablespoons at each meal.

Receive unique insights, advice and exclusive offers.
image of Performance Lab® capsules

2. Increase your fiber

Time and time again, dietary fiber has been shown to help induce fullness. That's because viscous fibers interfere with the peristaltic mixing process that occurs in the small intestine and impedes digestion and absorption of nutrients, thereby eliciting signals of satiety 3. By doing so, blood sugar fluctuations are limited. So, if you find yourself with a raging appetite, try to get more fiber into your diet. Aim for a minimum of 35g through consumption of complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, yams, squash, berries, apples, beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds.

3. Eat more protein

Just like fat, protein has a satiating effect and helps to keep blood sugar stable. However, while protein requires insulin for metabolism, it has minimal effect on blood glucose levels themselves.

Not to mention, it also takes substantially longer to digest than carbohydrates, meaning it keeps you satiated for longer. Interestingly, though, protein can be converted to glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. But for most dietary protein, it's converted to amino acids rather than glucose.

And even if it enters gluconeogenesis, most of the glucose produced does not appear in general circulation 4.This steady level of blood glucose is what helps to reduce appetite and curb cravings. Along with animal and plant-based proteins, powders are another great option to get a good dose of protein in at home or on-the-go.

Performance Lab SPORT Protein is one of the cleanest plant-based proteins on the market.

4. Kill the refined carbs

If you're going to get a craving, chances are it's probably for sugar or some sort of carb. Each hemisphere of the brain contains a region called the insula which produces emotions in response to a sensory experience.

The first taste of chocolate, for example, or even just the thought of it, raises dopamine levels in your brain, providing you with some sort of "reward" response every time you eat it.

The same thing happens with sugar and gluten. These carbs fire off feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins that make you happy and satisfied when you consume them. And when you don't, your body craves that hit.Ditch the refined and simple carbs for complex carbohydrates like root vegetables, low-sugar fruits, gluten-free grains, along with beans and legumes.

5. Balance your blood sugar

As you've probably noticed with all the tips above, blood sugar imbalances seem to be at the heart of them.

When your blood sugar is continually going up and down, your body gets a bit confused as to where it's supply of glucose is coming from.As such, when blood dips a bit lower than your body is comfortable with, you're not only going to see signs of hypoglycemia (shakiness, dizziness, etc.). You're also going to get cravings for sugar or carbs because they raise glucose quickly. Several studies show that acute episodes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) produce a generalized increase in cravings for food, particularly those high in carbohydrates 5. If you're going to consume foods in high carbs, balance it out with adequate protein and fat to slow glucose uptake.

Alternatively, stick to low glycemic carbs that don't have as much impact on blood sugar.

6. Get your hormones under control

This one is way easier said than done, but it's an essential part of regulating cravings. When it comes to appetite, there are a few key hormones you need to monitor: insulin, glucagon, leptin, and ghrelin. The former are regulators of your blood glucose levels, while the latter regulate hunger and satiety 6. Studies show that ghrelin plays a role in increasing motivation and cravings for foods, and in reward-based eating, especially for carbohydrates and starches 7.Balancing these hormones through proper lifestyle choices will make a massive difference to your appetite regulation and will kick your cravings to the curb—more on these below.

7. Keep yourself hydrated

Ever noticed that your hunger rages if you haven't had a drink all day? And no, we don't mean an alcoholic beverage, but water.Hunger is often confused with dehydration because the symptoms mimic each other, so the first thing we naturally reach for is food.

But funny enough, even though we've eaten, those cues are still there - because it wasn't hunger in the first place. Dehydration can also make it difficult for organs like the liver, which relies on adequate levels of water, to release glycogen, so, in turn, you get cravings for food to bump up glucose levels.Stay hydrated by consuming a minimum of 2-3L of water per day.

8. Manage your stress levels

If you're pulling your hair out kind of stressed, chances are your cravings are probably also killing you.

That's because stress drives up cortisol, and cortisol not only causes you to pack on the pounds, but it also makes you crave things you shouldn't be eating. Chronic stress activates the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which causes the secretion of cortisol, a glucocorticoid that stimulates appetite. Several studies have shown that high cortisol increased stress-induced eating, as well as binge-eating 7.Interestingly, insulin and cortisol may also act synergistically to upregulate lipogenesis (production of fat).

And also, mild hypoglycemia stimulates the release of cortisol, which increases brain activation in reward motivation pathways, which subsequently makes you crave high-calorie foods 7.If that's not enough for you to want to manage your stress, we're not sure what is!Instead of pulling your hair out or having a yelling match with your spouse because you're stressed, try deep breathing, meditation, journaling, yoga, other forms of physical activity, or any other activity that helps get your mind off your stress.

9. Make sure you're not nutrient deficient

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, cravings for certain foods can be your body's way of telling you it's missing something.

If you're low in a specific nutrient, your body is going to send out cravings that entice you to eat foods rich in that. While this line of thinking is not entirely wrong, specific mineral imbalances might explain the craving for sugary foods.

Being low in something like iron, for example, may cause your energy levels to plummet, leaving you reaching for some quick energy from things like sweets and other carbs. But zinc, chromium, and magnesium can do the same. They're involved in hydration status, along with hundreds of other enzymatic reactions, including food metabolism and hormone synthesis, so if you're short on them, chances are you might have cravings 8,9.To avoid any deficiencies, invest in a good multivitamin like Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi.

10. Get enough sleep

And finally, we get to one of the most important things you can do for your body, but not only in terms of appetite and cravings. Sleep plays a huge role in regulating hormones, and lack of it will leave you irritable and sluggish, but it will also leave your hunger raging and you'll likely reach for a load of sugar to get your energy up.

When you're sleep-deprived, ghrelin levels spike and leptin levels fall, which causes an increase in appetite and contributes to weight gain 10.If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consider Performance Lab Sleep. It's the perfect blend of Sleep TryptoPure® with CherryPURE® to encourage natural melatonin and serotonin production along with magnesium to promote sleep-supportive muscle relaxation.

There's more…

Supplements are also another way to curb your appetite and your cravings and reduce the likelihood of weight gain. Burn Lab Pro helps to boost metabolism and promote fat breakdown and mobilization, while Performance Lab Stim is excellent for suppressing appetite.


  1. RS Ahima, DA Antwi. Brain regulation of appetite and satiety. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2008; 37(4): 811-823.
  2. EA Hernández, S Kahl, A Seelig, et al. Acute dietary fat intake initiates alterations in energy metabolism and insulin resistance. J Clin Invest. 2017; 127(2): 695-708.
  3. CJ Rebello, CE O'Neil, FL Greenway. Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety. Nutr Rev. 2016; 74(2): 131-147.
  4. MJ Franz. Protein Controversies in Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. 2000; 13(3): 132.
  5. MW Strachan, FM Ewing, BM Frier, A Harper, IJ Deary. Food cravings during acute hypoglycaemia in adults with Type 1 diabetes. Physiol Behav. 2004 Feb; 80(5): 675-82.
  6. MD Klok, S Jakobsdottir, ML Drent. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007 Jan; 8(1): 21-34.
  7. AM Chao, AM Jastreboff, MA White, CM Grilo, R Sinha. Stress, cortisol, and other appetite-related hormones: Prospective prediction of 6-month changes in food cravings and weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017; 25(4): 713-720.
  8. A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. Diabetes Educ. 2004; Suppl: 2-14.
  9. M Barbagallo, LJ Dominguez. Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. World J Diabetes. 2015; 6(10): 1152-1157.
  10. S Taheri, L Lin, D Austin, T Young, E Mignot. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004; 1(3): e62.