If you're looking to lose a few pounds or need a little metabolic boost, you may have considered using appetite suppressants. Appetite suppressants are substances that reduce your food cravings. But do they work? Many over-the-counter stimulants claim to suppress your appetite, but most contain unnecessary additives and synthetic ingredients that you should avoid. Lucky for you, there's evidence that some all-natural appetite suppressants might help.
These natural supplements and lifestyle choices can help you eat less, burn fat and calories, crave less junk food, and feel fuller longer. And there are many health benefits to losing weight, especially if you have a few unwanted pounds.
What Is a Natural Appetite Suppressant?
A natural appetite suppressant subdues your brain and body's hunger signals — naturally. This means it is a substance found in or extracted from foods in a natural state, without any artificial or synthetic chemicals.[1, 2]
Natural appetite suppressants work in a variety of different ways, but we've gathered the ones that seem the most promising. Most of these herbs and spices interact with your body's physiology in more than one way, like burning fat or boosting your metabolism.
Top Natural Appetite Suppressants
You may have been wondering whether some herbs and spices can suppress appetite, and they can! Some others are extracts from commonly known ingredients, like green coffee bean. Read on to learn more!
Green Tea Extract
Green tea and its extract EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) have healing properties. They boost mental alertness and aid digestive distress. But green tea is also a popular weight loss aid, and may have the ability to suppress appetite.
Green tea's caffeine and antioxidants work together to reduce appetite by decreasing ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone.[4, 5]
Green tea extract also blocks fat absorption, boosts thermogenesis or energy expenditure, and increases the fat you excrete in your stool.[6, 7]
Derived from the crocus flower, Crocus sativus, brightly colored saffron is not only used as a seasoning in food but also to lose weight.
Saffron's bioactive compounds include crocin and crocetin. It appears that crocin, in particular, may reduce appetite.
When obese men and women took either saffron extract or crocin alone, they ate less food (lower "dietary intake") due to a lower appetite.[8, 9]
What's a morning without a cup of java? Coffee may be one of America's favorite morning drinks, and it turns out the caffeine it contains may suppress appetite, at least for the short term.
When you drink coffee 30 minutes to four hours before a meal, it reduces appetite and results in lower energy intake — in other words, fewer calories consumed. However, when you consume caffeine three to four-and-a-half hours before a meal, it does not work as well. (Yes, there is overlap in those two categories.) The closer you drink coffee to your meal — but at least 30 minutes out — the greater its appetite-suppressing magic.
Decaffeinated coffee can suppress your appetite even more than caffeinated drinks. Decaf appears to influence PYY (peptide YY), which affects fullness.
Red Pepper (Capsicum)
Capsicum is the scientific genus for peppers, and plenty of research points to the "power of peppers" to help you reach your weight loss goals!
The active appetite-suppressing ingredient in peppers is capsaicin. You'll find it in everything from red bell peppers to cayenne pepper. Spicier peppers have more capsaicin, and hence more appetite-suppressing power.
Capsaicin increases your feeling of fullness immediately and even hours after you've eaten. Eating peppers not only gives you a boost of vitamins, it also increases your body's resting energy expenditure and boosts fat burn. So it's an appetite suppressant and a fat burner!
The body may become less sensitive to the weight loss benefits of red pepper over time, so take breaks from it occasionally. Some people are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family, including peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. Talk to a nutritionist if you have adverse effects when consuming them.
Green Coffee Bean
Green coffee beans are simply unroasted coffee beans. They contain chlorogenic acid, a compound that has been shown to hinder fat accumulation.
Whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, green coffee bean extract is a useful supplement for weight control. Not only will green coffee bean extract lower appetite, but it may also help reduce fat mass and weight gain.
By influencing hunger hormones, green coffee bean helps with blood sugar and blood pressure.[17, 18] It can also help shrink your waist circumference, lower the accumulation of body fat, and reduce your appetite.[17, 18, 19]
This herb is popular for use in Ayurvedic medicine. Gymnema leaf's most widely touted benefit is the suppression of cravings for sweet things.
It's commonly known as “gurmar," which means "sugar destroyer." Two compounds within it work in tandem — saponins and a polypeptide, gurmarin — to create its sugar-battling effect. The fewer sweets you eat, the easier it'll be to kick stubborn fat deposits to the curb.
Gymnema's compounds may also have blood sugar and cholesterol-balancing effects. Taking Gymnema with Garcinia cambogia may be particularly effective.
Kalahari cactus or Hoodia gordonii is a popular weight loss supplement. Traditionally, the San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert used Hoodia as an appetite suppressant.
It turns out that its active compound, P57, suppresses a desire to eat by boosting levels of ATP. Think of ATP like gasoline for your body — it produces the energy for every physiological process in your cells.
P57 may also stimulate the central nervous system and help the hypothalamus control hunger more efficiently. As a result, consuming Hoodia can decrease body mass index or BMI.
People have traditionally used dandelion as a diuretic, and there is evidence to back up that claim. This means that it helps reduce water weight and promotes a healthy inflammatory response.
Dandelion also boosts the breakdown of fat in the blood. When taken as an herbal tea, it may reduce the consumption of unhealthy sweetened drinks. For these reasons, you will often find dandelion in weight loss supplements.
Dandelion also protects against oxidative stress when free radicals cause cell damage. While it may not suppress appetite directly, it offers synergistic support for those on a weight loss journey.[27, 28]
Aloe Vera Gel
People around the world have used aloe vera therapeutically for centuries. This succulent plant grows in tropical climates and is also a common house plant. But can it decrease appetite?
Aloe vera inner leaf gel can reduce the subcutaneous fat under the skin and visceral fat that surrounds organs — two types of body fat which are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Aloe also creates a mild laxative effect, cleansing the gut and soothing digestion. With better digestion, your body can absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Aloe contains acemannan, a polysaccharide found in the inner leaf. Acemannan promotes regular blood sugar and triglyceride (fat) levels. As a bonus, acemannan acts as a prebiotic or food for probiotic microbes. Only take inner leaf, not outer leaf aloe latex, which contains aloin, a harsh laxative.
Global Healing’s certified organic Global Healing's Aloe Vera is a high-potency formula with the highest amount of acemannan available, made exclusively from inner leaf aloe.
Other Natural Ways to Reduce Appetite
Besides natural appetite suppressants, certain lifestyle and dietary choices also help reduce hunger. Here are some helpful, natural ways to suppress your appetite.
Exercise has dozens of health benefits. Not only do you burn calories and build muscle, but you also keep your heart healthy, improve fat oxidation, and increase the health of cells throughout your body. But high-intensity exercise has another surprising effect on the body: suppressing hunger.
This appetite reduction may be due to an interaction between the satiety hormone ghrelin, the stress hormone cortisol, and interleukin — a glycoprotein that affects hunger and appetite. Exercise also influences PYY, a peptide with an appetite-lowering effect.
Wherever you fall in the spectrum and whatever type of workout you do, knowing how exercise helps appetite may boost your motivation. Aim for 150-minutes of aerobic exercise each week! You'll feel the difference.
Your diet can affect your appetite. While healthy fats like avocado can fill you up, when you eat more protein, you boost your body's metabolism. Protein and amino acids provide the building blocks of your muscles, bones, and blood and influence appetite. But did you know that protein takes more energy to digest than carbohydrates?
High protein meals increase thermogenesis, the heat produced in your body as your digestive system works. More protein means you burn more calories, even while at rest.[34, 35]
Certain amino acids also influence hunger and fullness. L-arginine increases levels of PYY — which, as mentioned, signals fullness.[36, 34] The amino acid tryptophan boosts serotonin, a hormone that lifts mood and reduces anxiety — both of which may otherwise cause overeating.
Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber helps food move more quickly through the small intestine. This raises levels of PYY, which signals your brain to make you feel full.
Fiber also "fills you up" with its bulk. When you consume foods without much fiber, you may eat or drink more because your stomach hasn't "reached capacity" yet.
Take, for example, drinking apple juice versus eating an apple. An apple's soluble fiber gives you a greater sense of fullness faster. This prevents higher calorie intake compared to drinking a cup of apple juice.
With fiber, your stomach takes in indigestible carbs that don't add to your caloric load because you excrete them in your stool. But they take up space in your gut that might otherwise get occupied by high-calorie foods, and therefore reduce calorie consumption.
Great sources of fiber include oatmeal, brown rice, and other gluten-free whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fruits. Also, drink several glasses of water throughout the day. Aim for half your body weight in ounces daily.
Points to Remember
Top natural supplements that show promise include green tea, cayenne (and capsaicin), green coffee bean extract, caffeine, Gymnema, and Hoodia.
Some of these can be taken as supplements, but you can just as easily have a cup of green tea or a cup of coffee to reduce your appetite. Avoid synthetic appetite suppressants. Instead, opt for natural ways to suppress your appetite and reduce your food intake.
Another great approach to curb hunger involves lifestyle and dietary choices. Eat fiber- and protein-rich foods, and stay active every day. High-intensity workouts are especially beneficial.
What natural appetite suppressants have you tried? Share your experiences below!
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.