Managing Hunger

Deborah KayBy Deborah KayJuly 23, 20229 Minutes

I am hungry all the time, so when it comes to weight loss, managing hunger is key.

Firstly, it is important to understand what causes hunger and two key hormones: leptin and ghrelin.



Leptin is a hormone produced by your adipose tissue (body fat), and signals to your brain that you are full. Overweight or obese people may suffer from leptin resistance, where the signalling breaks down and you don’t feel full, despite your fat cells releasing lots of leptin.



Ghrelin on the other hand is the hormone that is secreted in the gut and signals to your brain that you are hungry.


1. Keeping my blood glucose steady

After wearing a CGM, I have noticed that I tend to feel hunger whenever my blood sugar drops. Hence keeping my blood sugar relatively steady helps me not feel hungry all the time.

Reactive hypoglyciemia (when your blood sugar drops lower than its original level after consuming carbs or sugar) can stimulate ghrelin release. When my blood sugar drops to low levels after a spike, my body would release ghrelin to tell me to eat more to counter the hypoglycemia.


2. Ketogenic diet and increasing dietary fat

Going full on ketogenic (or even low carb) helps to keep my blood sugar constant and helps to regulate my hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) such that I don’t feel hungry all the time.

Increasing the amount of fat in a meal also helps with satiety – e.g. sometimes I will add half an avocado to my meal. Note, this will also increase your daily calories, so it’s important to track how many calories you’re consuming.

For me, net net, less hunger leads to less snacking, so it’s easier to reduce my my daily caloric intake when I go high fat.


3. Apple cider vinegar

Drinking 2 tablespoons of drink apple cider vinegar in sparkling water would always get rid of my hunger pangs, which would stop me from snacking.

ACV is not a miracle drink that magically makes one lose fat or lose weight, but it is very effective helping me feel less hungry. Also the acetic acid in the ACV  can help to keep blood sugar levels steady.

When I’m intermittent fasting, I typically start the morning with 2 tablespoons of apple cider in the morning and a cup of black coffee. This will easily keep the hunger pangs at bay until 10am or 11am.


4. Skipping breakfast 

If I regularly eat breakfast in the morning, I will get hungry the minute I wake up. This is because ghrelin stimulation is time sensitive – it gets released at times when you are used to eating. It doesn’t take long to re-train your brain though –  if I skip breakfast for 2-3 days, I stop feeling hungry when I wake up after I wake up and can last until 10am or 11am without feeling hungry (pair this with my one cup of black coffee and one cup of apple cider vinegar!).


3. Cutting out all sweet things, even artificial sugar

Sweet things make me crave sweet things (even if it’s artificial sugar). This makes me hungry or peckish and I start craving snacks. If I’m trying to lose weight, I will cut out any sweet snacks (even sweet low carb or ketogenic snacks like Magic Spoon or Perfect Keto cookies).

Good snack substitutes that work for me include:

I try to avoid the roasted / salted nuts, so the raw ones are best. They’re also less yummy so you are less likely to overeat them.


4. Black coffee

This applies to lactose (milk sugar) as well – if I have coffee with milk/creamer, I tend to crave it. So if I’m trying to lose weight, I switch to black coffee to remove the lactose craving.


6. Ice Green Tea / Ice Hibiscus Tea

Sipping on cold green tea also helps with curbing hunger. I throw two tea bags of green tea into a large water bottle and chuck the whole thing in the fridge. Hibiscus tea works as well (something I learnt from doing Prolon!)


7. Drinking more salt

I’m obsessed with LMNT’s electrolyte drink (my favourite is Raspberry or Lime). It’s so delicious and one sachet in 750ml of sparkling water keeps me full for ages. Hunger can also be due to insufficient sodium, so once your body has enough sodium, it stops being hungry. Sometimes if I’m going out to a big dinner, I will drink LMNT before my dinner so I’m not so hungry and don’t end up overeating during dinner.

LMNT does not ship to Singapore but you can buy it from Amazon. My favourite flavours are Raspberry Salt and Citrus Salt.


8. Fasting

Short bouts of fasting (whether it is intermittent fasting or extended fasting such as the 5 day fasting mimicking diet) can help reset hunger cravings.  If I’m constantly hungry and craving sweets, I have noticed that it only takes a few days of IF or extended fasting to end the cravings.


9. Low intensity exercise

Going on a long walk or doing low intensity yoga can also help to curb hunger pangs.

When you do low intensity exercise, you are mobilising and metabolising fat and the increased triglycerides in your blood stream signals to the brain that you don’t need to eat.

Some other studies suggest that moderate to high intensity exercise can also curb hunger by reducing ghrelin and increasing lactate and amino acid phenylalanine (nicknamed lac-phe) which curbs hunger.

This can vary by individual so you need to figure out what works for you. For some people, cardio makes them hungry. For me, walks and runs help to curb my appetite. Exercising also keeps me busy and distracted (see next point!).


10. Distract yourself!

Often hunger is purely in the mind, and all it takes is a three minute distraction and you will forget about your hunger.  Game designer and futurist Jane McGonigal says in her book SuperBetter that playing tetris for three minutes can help reduce an intense craving by up to 25%.


What does not work for me


1. High protein

Protein is meant to be satiating but for some reason it doesn’t seem to satiate me. If I eat turkey or chicken breast or white fish, I get hungry very quickly. High fat works much better to keep me feeling full.


2. Drinking more water

Drinking water to feel full has never worked for me, but drinking water with a bit of apple cider vinegar or some salts (e.g. LMNT) works wonders. Why? Who knows.