Fatty trick turns off hunger hormones

If you’re making the switch from an unhealthy diet to a healthy one, then you’re probably familiar with one particular feeling… hunger.

Your body is used to eating certain foods and eating a certain amount of food, so it’s a no wonder a major diet overhaul — like significantly lowering carb intake, giving up meat or cutting out processed food — can leave your stomach rumbling.

But never fear….

There’s a trick for eating healthy and curbing cravings that will make your life a whole lot easier and your stomach a whole lot fuller.

Because eating healthy doesn’t have to mean feeling famished all the time. You just have to know what healthy foods to turn to for a full and satisfied belly…

The healthy fats that keep you full

The latest research from the University of Georgia found that there’s a certain type of healthy food that could eliminate constant cravings by altering your hunger hormones.

What is this hunger-satiating health food?

Well, it’s anything that contains polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). In case you don’t know, PUFAs are healthy fats (like omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids) that you’ll find in a bunch of tasty foods, including walnuts, salmon and canola oil.

To test their theory that PUFAs might affect hunger hormones, researchers from the University of Georgia had study participants (who were between the ages of 18 and 35) eat either a diet high in PUFAs or a standard American diet for seven days.

Both diets included the same amount of calories and derived the same amount of calories from fat. The only difference was the type of fat included. The control diet was mostly monounsaturated fat and saturated fat, while the other diet was comprised mostly of PUFAs.

These researchers found that people who ate a PUFA-rich diet had a significant decrease in the hormone ghrelin (which increases hunger) and a significant increase in the hormone peptide YY (which increases fullness).

“Appetite hormones play an important role in regulating how much we eat,” said lead researcher Jamie A. Cooper, PhD of the University of Georgia. “These findings tell us that eating foods rich in PUFAs, like those found in walnuts, may favorably change appetite hormones so that we can feel fuller for longer.”

Perfecting your PUFA intake

So if your healthy diet has you hungry all the time, PUFA-rich food could be the solution you’re looking for. You can get PUFAs from a long list of foods. The foods with the highest amount of PUFAs include:

  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax seeds or flax oil
  • Fish, like salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, and trout
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil

Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard on PUFAs. Getting roughly 25% to 35% of your daily calories from PUFAs and other fats is probably a healthy target. In the study, for example, participants on the PUFA diet got 21% of their calories from polyunsaturated fat, 9% from monounsaturated fat and 5% from saturated fat. So if you want to keep your belly full without derailing your health goals, shoot for something comparable.

  1. Diets rich in polyunsaturated fats may alter appetite hormones among millennials. — MedicalXpress. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  2. L. Stevenson, et al. “Hunger and satiety responses to high-fat meals after a high-polyunsaturated fat diet: A randomized trial.” — Nutrition, 2017.
  3. Facts about polyunsaturated fats. — MedlinePlus. Retrieved June 16, 2017.


Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.