Natural ways to curb your appetite

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Many diets fail for the simple reason of hunger. But there are ways to help control ghrelin, the appetite-boosting hormone that triggers the brain to encourage eating.

Do aerobic exercise. Research has shown activities such as running on a treadmill can curb appetite for about two hours. Strength training is good too, just not quite as effective.

Eat protein. Low-fat foods that are rich in protein do best at suppressing ghrelin production. Carbohydrates do the job well at first, but levels rebound over time and climb even higher — often leaving you even hungrier than you were before eating.

… especially at breakfast. One recent study found eating lean protein in the morning controls hunger longer than eating it at other times of the day. Try adding egg whites, Canadian bacon or low-fat yogurt to your meal.

Work on lowering stress. The body makes extra ghrelin in response to anxiety, and the foods you tend to crave are high in carbohydrates and fat. Do something relaxing: get a massage, take a yoga class, listen to favorite music or watch a comedy and laugh.

Eat smaller meals more often. Having some food in your stomach throughout the day stimulates the secretion of a second hormone — called Peptide YY3-36 — that reduces ghrelin production. Your blood sugar levels also will be more stable, which can improve mood. Just be sure to control portions and choose healthy foods.

Add “good” fats to your diet. The body converts the unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, avocado and salmon into a compound that helps send appetite-curbing signals to the brain. Again, just watch your portions.

Lose some weight. Leaner people produce more Peptide YY3-36 than those who are overweight.