8 Natural Appetite Suppressants for Weight Management

8 Natural Appetite Suppressants for Weight Management

Natural appetite suppressants are foods, drinks, and supplements that reduce hunger, which may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They promote feelings of satiety (fullness), influence hunger hormones, or boost your metabolism to curb your appetite and help manage your calorie intake.

If you’re seeking an alternative to pharmaceutical weight loss interventions or restrictive dietary changes, natural appetite suppressants hold promising potential for healthy weight management alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and takes longer to digest, helping you feel fuller for longer. Fiber also helps regulate blood sugar levels, which may contribute to appetite control.

The daily recommended intake (DRI) of fiber for adults is around 31 grams (g) per day for men and 25 g per day for women. To add more fiber to your diet and maximize the benefits it offers, aim to consume a variety of high-fiber foods every day, including: 

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes 
  • Whole grains

Increasing your fiber intake too quickly can cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gas. To prevent digestive discomfort, gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Slowly increase your intake as your body adjusts.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herb in the legume family of plants. The seeds are rich in soluble fiber, helping slow digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates, which may lead to prolonged feelings of fullness and a reduced appetite.

Fenugreek also helps control blood sugar levels, which may benefit people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In one study, participants with type 2 diabetes who consumed 5 g of fenugreek powder (ground seeds) twice daily before eating a meal for two months had significant reductions in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. 

You can incorporate fenugreek into your diet by cooking with the herb, adding the seeds to your salad for flavor, or drinking fenugreek tea. Consuming fenugreek as a food is a safe and secure way to enjoy its benefits. The herb’s safety as a dietary supplement is unknown. Talk to a healthcare provider before using fenugreek supplements for weight management.

People with peanut or chickpea allergies should avoid fenugreek, as it may trigger an allergic reaction or chronic asthma.

Capsaicin, the main compound in chili peppers that gives them distinct heat and flavor, may reduce appetite and boost fat burning. One study found that consuming chili peppers with dinner increases satiety (feeling full) and decreases the desire to eat at night (after dinner), helping control caloric intake.

In another study, participants who ate breakfast foods containing red chili peppers ate fewer calories at lunch, particularly fat and carbohydrates.

There is no established amount of chili peppers or cayenne (capsaicin) powder for appetite control. However, incorporating moderate amounts into your meals may help you feel fuller longer and curb cravings. Chili peppers can cause a burning sensation throughout your digestive tract and lead to heartburn and abdominal pain, so start with small amounts to help prevent discomfort. 

Adding lean protein sources, like chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, and legumes, to every meal may help reduce your overall calorie intake. Lean protein helps control appetite by increasing the release of hormones associated with satiety and suppressing ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger. A high-protein diet may promote weight loss by increasing the calories your body burns at rest.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein varies based on age, sex, and activity level. Research suggests that approximately 30% of your daily calorie intake should come from protein sources if you want to lose weight and suppress your appetite. 

Consuming too much protein can harm the kidneys in people with kidney disease. Balance your protein intake with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Healthy fats take longer to digest than other nutrients and help stabilize blood sugar levels. This may help you feel full for an extended period after eating and reduce the urge to snack between meals. Healthy fats also stimulate the production of satiety hormones in the gut, further enhancing satiety to help control your calorie intake. 

To incorporate healthy fats into your diet, look for foods rich in unsaturated fats, including avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, vegetable oils (e.g., sunflower), and seafood. Moderation is key with fats; experts recommend that healthy fats make up about 20-35% of your daily calorie intake.

Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is an evergreen tree native to South America. People worldwide use the plant’s dried leaves to make tea, which may offer appetite-suppressing benefits. Yerba mate contains compounds that provide a stimulating effect that may boost fat metabolism and suppress appetite by affecting hormones that regulate hunger and satiety signals in the brain.

In one study, participants who consumed yerba mate tea daily for 12 weeks experienced significant reductions in their body fat percentages. Other studies show similar results, with yerba mate acting as an appetite suppressant and fat burner, suggesting it may help with weight management.

Yerba mate tea is safe to consume in moderation. However, drinking too much may lead to insomnia, diarrhea, or a rapid heart rate since it has stimulating effects similar to caffeine.

Green tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. People enjoy the beverage worldwide for its many health benefits. Both green tea and green tea extract (a concentrated form of the tea) may help with appetite suppression and weight management.

Green tea’s potential to curb appetite likely stems from two key components: caffeine and compounds called catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Caffeine acts as a stimulant, increasing feelings of alertness and potentially reducing hunger pangs. EGCG, a potent polyphenol compound in green tea, may boost metabolism, encouraging the body to burn more calories at rest.

Long-term consumption of green tea or green tea extract may influence satiety hormones. Research suggests green tea increases leptin (the fullness hormone) and decreases ghrelin (the hunger hormone) levels, which may support appetite control over time.

You can safely consume up to 8 cups of green tea daily, or 338 milligrams (mg) per day of green tea extract. Excess amounts can damage the liver, so people with liver disease should avoid consuming green tea and its extracts.

When sweet cravings strike, a small serving of dark chocolate may be an effective way to satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy an appetite-suppressing treat. Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that may influence satiety hormones.

In an older study, participants who consumed dark chocolate two hours before a meal ate 17% fewer calories than when consumed milk chocolate before a meal. Another study found that postmenopausal women consumed fewer calories after eating dark chocolate compared to milk and white chocolate. 

A review of 19 studies suggests that consuming dark chocolate may help with weight management in people with overweight or obesity. One study reported that even the smell of chocolate has an appetite-reducing effect, suggesting it may suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone. However, more research is needed to determine how dark chocolate affects appetite hormones.

Although dark chocolate may help curb your appetite, the fat and sugar content may counteract its positive effects on appetite. If weight management is your goal, aim to consume dark chocolate in moderation.

While natural appetite suppressants can be a helpful tool for weight management, some people may prefer pharmacological treatment. Several prescription and over-the-counter medications can help manage feelings of hunger—with the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Prescription Medications

Healthcare providers can prescribe appetite suppressant medications for people with obesity—a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater—or people with a BMI of 27 or higher and weight-related health conditions. Medications with FDA approval for weight management include: 

  • Saxenda (liraglutide): A daily injectable medication that belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. This drug slows the movement of food through your stomach to keep you fuller for longer and acts on gut hormones that signal fullness to the brain, reducing hunger pangs.
  • Wegovy and Ozempic (semaglutide): An injectible medication that belongs to the GLP-1 receptor agonist class of drugs. Wegovy and Ozempic slow down the process of food leaving your stomach, keeping you full longer and decreasing appetite.
  • Contrave (naltrexone-bupropion): An oral medication (taken by mouth daily), Contrave combines antidepressant medication with an opioid receptor antagonist to influence the brain’s pleasure-reward areas, decreasing appetite and controlling cravings.
  • Qysmia (phentermine-topiramate): This oral medication combines phentermine, which decreases appetite, with topiramate, an anti-convulsant drug that may help you feel fuller for a longer period after eating and lessen your appetite. 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

Some appetite suppressants are available over-the-counter. While these are generally safe, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any OTC medication, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

A common appetite suppressant is caffeine. Many OTC weight management supplements and energy drinks contain caffeine, which may help reduce your calorie intake at meals when consumed 30 minutes to four hours before a meal.

If you can’t get enough fiber through food, you can also try a fiber supplement to help suppress appetite. Look for one with glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber from the root of the Konjac plant. Glucomannan may suppress appetite by increasing the feeling of fullness and slowing food movement through the stomach. 

Adopting health-promoting lifestyle habits is the most sustainable and effective way to build appetite control and manage weight. These habits may include: 

  • Mindful eating: Pay close attention to your body’s hunger cues and the foods you eat without judgment. Eat slowly, savor your food, and avoid distractions like screens (e.g., scrolling on your phone) while eating. Mindful eating can help you savor food and recognize when you feel comfortably full, which may help prevent overeating. 
  • Drink water: Drinking a glass of water before meals may help you feel fuller sooner and potentially reduce your calorie intake. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so sipping water between meals may help stave off hunger pangs. 
  • Portion control: Eating larger portions may cause you to eat more calories than your body needs, which can contribute to weight gain. Measuring portions or using smaller plates and bowls can help with portion control.
  • Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Inadequate sleep interferes with hormones that influence appetite. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more ghrelin (hunger hormone) and less leptin (satiety hormone), and you may be more likely to reach for sugary or high-carbohydrate snacks for a quick hunger fix. 
  • Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help reduce appetite and support overall health. It also helps build muscle mass, increase metabolism, and boost the calories you burn throughout the day, even when resting.

Natural appetite suppressants are foods, drinks, and supplements that may make you feel fuller for longer periods to curb your appetite and help with weight management. High-fiber foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats promote satiety, potentially reducing your overall calorie intake. Green tea, yerba mate, and dark chocolate may influence hunger hormones and contribute to appetite control. 

Natural appetite suppressants are most effective when combined with health-promoting lifestyle habits, such as mindful eating, portion control, and regular physical activity. Talk to a healthcare provider before significantly changing your diet or eating habits. Your provider can help you develop a sustainable plan for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. 

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