By Chris Aceto Flex
As a bodybuilder, you probably already know about several diet strategies for getting ripped to the bone. Eating fewer carbs, consuming less fat and performing a lot of cardio are headliners that grab attention. One of the simplest and most overlooked aspects of controlling your bodyfat, however, boils down to curbing your appetite. When you can shut down the desire to eat or cheat, then stripping away bodyfat becomes much easier. Here are some of the best ways to manage your appetite when you’re trying to manage your bodyfat.
1 | Avoid carb-only meals
Carbohydrates are the first nutrient to leave the stomach. A meal comprising only carbohydrates will leave the stomach quickly, leading you to be hungry sooner than if you had eaten a meal that contained other macronutrients. Protein and dietary fat are digested far more slowly than carbohydrates and they prevent carbohydrates from rushing out of the stomach, helping to make you feel full longer. This is reason enough to avoid carb-only meals: They ignite hunger and can lead to cheating, gorging and overeating. Including all the macronutrients is the best way to get in at least one gram (g) per pound of bodyweight daily.
2 | Start with protein
Let’s say you’re dieting and your next meal calls for a carbohydrate-protein combo of rice and a chicken breast. If you’re starving and feel like you could eat a small elephant, opt for the chicken first, followed by the rice. Protein exerts a greater appetite-quelling effect than carbs alone or, as in this case, a combination of carbohydrates and protein.
3 | Graze throughout the day
Bodybuilders know that eating multiple meals a day leads to better leaning out. You end up with more muscle mass and less bodyfat than you do when eating the same number of calories per day in fewer meals. In terms of appetite control, spreading food intake over six to eight daily meals can also have a huge impact on your appetite. Every time you eat — even a very small meal — the appetite center of the brain is stimulated, relaxing a sometimes-urgent appeal for more food or an overwhelming desire to eat. Eating constantly — within your daily calorie requirements, of course — will tame your appetite and help accelerate the loss of bodyfat.
4 | Bump up protein intake
Yes, you really do need only a gram of complete protein per pound of bodyweight per day to build mass. However, that number can change — and should go up — if you find yourself ravenously hungry while you’re dieting. Think of extreme hunger as a signal that your body is breaking down muscle mass. Boost your protein, but not necessarily your calories. Try adding 70 g of protein to your daily intake and backing down on your carb consumption by the same number. Protein foods can satisfy appetite; carb foods often increase it. Readjusting your protein-carb mix is an easy way to suppress your appetite. Emphasize milk and casein products — compared to other proteins, these sources provide a higher amount of glycomacropeptide, which is known to help reduce appetite.
5 | Eat fibrous vegetables
When you diet, your meals often don’t provide the satisfied full feeling you get when you eat masses of food. Although you want to avoid excess calories, you can increase the amount of food you eat by including more vegetables. In addition to bulk, they’re high in fiber, so they also tend to stay with you for a while. Good choices include broccoli, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, squash and zucchini. Emphasize these instead of starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas and carrots.
6 | Use fiber supplements
Soluble fiber delays the entry of carbohydrates into the intestines. This slowing effect alters the amount of insulin secreted. This is good news because insulin has been touted as “the hunger hormone.” With the delay in carb digestion and modification in insulin secretion, you’ll not only lose the urge to overeat, but you’ll also feel better because spiking insulin levels often result in drops in energy levels.
7 | Try 5-HTP
To help quell your appetite, use 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-hydroxy-l-tryptophan), a natural supplement that is converted in the brain into a chemical called serotonin. One study with obese women (F. Ceci et al., Journal of Neural Transmission, 76:109-17, 1989) showed that taking 5-HTP daily 30 minutes before meals for five weeks decreased appetite and resulted in weight loss. Try 50-100 milligrams (mg) daily,in split doses, shortly before your largest meals.
8 | Choose tyrosine and caffeine
The amino acid tyrosine, when consumed on an empty stomach, can increase levels of noradrenalin (norepinephrine) in the body to act as a mild appetite suppressant. Take it along with caffeine — a large cup of coffee (with up to 200 mg caffeine) — and you enhance the effect. Caffeine compounds the noradrenalinboosting proclivity of tyrosine and also liberates free fatty acids from fat cells. Both free fatty acids and glycerol — the byproduct of fat breakdown — help short-circuit the appetite control center located in the brain. A good tactic for suppressing appetite is to use 2 g of tyrosine and a cup of coffee in the morning 45 minutes before eating and repeat the process in the early afternoon.
9 | Take ZMA
ZMA (a formulated zinc product) is known to help improve training recovery and allow you to sleep better, but it can also help you keep your food intake in check. People who have zinc deficiency also tend to have less leptin, and leptin is associated with appetite control. By bumping up zinc, you increase your leptin levels, giving you better command over your eating.
10 | Supplement with histidine
Here’s a not-so-popular amino acid that recent research has shown helps suppress appetite. It’s believed that histidine influences the hormone leptin, which helps control hunger. Histidine gives way to histamines, which decrease food consumption. (On the flip side, taking antihistamines — drugs that block the release of histamines — can lead to greater food consumption.) Try taking 500 mg of histidine three times a day to help control appetite.
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