Spinach: The Natural Appetite Suppressant
Do you feel like you’re always hungry shortly after finishing a meal?
Many things can make us feel hungry, including being tired, taking certain medications, having a high carbohydrate diet, not enough fat or protein intake, excessive exercise and more. All of these things lead us to want a few extra portions than we should be having, as our bodies naturally crave the extra calories for fuel.
High appetite can be a strong driver for weight gain and can also be a deterrent to continuing your diet. For this reason, it can be beneficial to put some strategies in place to prevent hunger if you’re on a weight loss diet.
Natural appetite suppressants can keep you fuller for longer and make it less likely you’ll reach for an afternoon coffee and muffin pick-me-up. One less-known natural appetite suppressant is actually Spinach. That’s right! The green leafy vegetable that’s also full of iron and other healthy minerals and vitamins… Popeye was onto something here!
Spinach’s appetite suppressing qualities come from thylakoids (the part of the plant which helps utilise energy from the sun). Thylakoids suppress enzymes that digest the fat in your food. This slows down digestion keeping you fuller for longer, as well as increasing your appetite-reducing hormones and decreasing the amount of hunger hormones you have circulating throughout your body. This has the effect of a 21% decrease in hunger!
Spinach has also been shown to reduce cravings for typical snack foods, those high in sugar, fat or salt by a whole 28-38%. This could significantly help you stay on track with your diet and reduce snacking due to cravings or hunger.
The amount of spinach extract needed to have this effect is approximately one single 4-5g dose, however this has varied across studies.
To achieve this dose, you can use a spinach thylakoid extract supplement or a shake that includes this or you can eat around 3 cups of spinach across the day.
Ways to include spinach in your diet:
- Add 1-2 cup fulls of spinach to your omelette or eggs.
- Sautée the spinach to reduce the overall volume. The heat shrinks it and also increases the absorption of the minerals.
- Include spinach in frittatas, pastas, soups and casseroles
- Add spinach to baked vegetable dishes
- Incorporate spinach into salads at lunch and dinner
- Add a handful of spinach to morningsmoothies
- Make a spinach and low-fat cheese combination dip
Not only will adding spinach help you decrease your food cravings and stick to your diet but there’s also additional benefits such as improved digestion, healthy skin and hair, and improved bone health.
What’s not to love? Happy cooking!
Accredited Practising Dietitian
Consumption of thylakoid-rich spinach extract reduces hunger, increases satiety and reduces cravings for palatable food in overweight women. Eva-Lena Stenblom, Emil Egecioglu, Mona Landin-Olsson, Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson.
Appetite, Volume 91, 2015, Pages 209-219, ISSN 0195-6663,