Ditch the weight loss pills

No doubt about it, overeating – and its connection to more and more people becoming overweight or obese – is one of the most complex and challenging issues in health care today. There are many reasons why you might feel like you’re always hungry, including nutrient deficiencies, a lack of fiber or healthy fats in your diet, fatigue or high amounts of emotional stress. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Natural appetite suppressants can help you achieve satiety and avoid overeating, and they can help you do that without the dangers of diet pills.

While manufacturers of weight loss pills continue to promote the convenience and rapid results associated with their products, the United States Food and Drug Administration and other health authorities warn against their use. Some of the main reasons that appetite-suppressing weight loss pills are considered to be at least somewhat dangerous include medication interactions, tainted or unlisted ingredients, high amounts of caffeine and fillers or synthetic additives that cause negative reactions – to name only a few.

The good news is this: there appear to be safer and more natural options for suppressing your appetite – and potentially losing some weight, as a result – without so much risk involved. In fact throughout history, cultures all over the world have consumed natural foods, teas and spices now proving to be beneficial for metabolic functions and energy expenditure. Consuming natural appetite suppressants – filling, fat-burning foods, nutrients such as conjugated linoleic acid and chromium, probiotics and anti-aging beverages such as green tea – can help you keep mindless cravings, a habit of snacking or a sweet tooth under better control.

What is an appetite suppressant?

Appetite suppressants are either pills, drinks, supplements or whole foods that help keep you from overeating. Natural appetite suppressants – which have some similarities to commercial weight loss pills but with important differences – may help tackle some of these issues related to obesity or emotional eating, in part, by balancing levels of hunger hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin and leptin rise and fall throughout the day depending on things like how much you’ve recently eaten, your mood, stress level, sleep, genetics, current weight and level of inflammation. In other words, there’s a lot at play when it comes to suppressing or stimulating your daily appetite.

In addition to decreasing your appetite through hormone regulation, nutrients or essential oils used for safely promoting weight loss can help tip the scale in your favor in several other ways. They can help burn more stored body fat for energy – known as thermogenics – improve the balance of blood sugar levels, curb cravings for junk foods or sweets, improve thyroid health, increase release of happy hormones or endorphins, such as serotonin, and possibly give you a bit more energy throughout the day to be used for extra physical activity.

There are all sorts of products available today that claim to have these appetite-dulling effects, but not every kind has been shown to work or even to be safe. Examples of weight loss supplements that pose the most risks include guarana, garcinia cambogia, bitter orange or ephedrine. According to the FDA, “Supplements aren’t considered drugs, so they aren’t put through the same strict safety and effectiveness requirements that drugs are.” That’s why it’s best to approach weight loss holistically by eating filling, fat-burning, natural foods and other natural appetite suppressants that won’t lead to the potential complications that taking pills or consuming high amounts of caffeine can.

Top 5 natural appetite suppressants

1. Green tea extract

Green tea has been consumed for thousands of years and is still one of the healthiest beverages available to us today. It’s been the focus of hundreds of studies related to everything from preventing cognitive disorders such as dementia to managing metabolic dysfunction. Recently, certain antioxidants and substances in green tea extract have been tied to beneficial effects on metabolic diseases and improvements in regulating appetite hormones.

A Cochrane meta-anylsis, including 14 studies involving the use of green tea, shows that its consumption is associated with mild but significant weight loss results compared to controls or placebo. One of those studies – testing the effects of green tea extract on a group of adults compared to a control group not taking green tea – finds that after 12 weeks, those taking 857 milligrams of green tea have significantly lower levels of ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone.

Participants in the green tea extract group also had improvements in cholesterol levels and elevated levels of adiponectin compared to the placebo group. Low levels of adiponectin have been tied to problems like insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and increased inflammation. The most abundant green tea catechin and a powerful bioactive constituent, EGCG, has also been shown to act like a cancer-fighting compound and promote thermogenic activities in studies, therefore decreasing fat cell proliferation and helping burn body fat for energy.

Although not every study has shown such strong and positive weight loss results associated with green tea extract, it seems safe for most adults to take up to 800–900 milligrams daily, usually spread out over three increments. Try increasing your metabolism while maintaining a healthy heart with Green Tea Extract Supplement with EGCG for Weight Loss. Although they’re generally rare, when taking green tea extract be on the lookout for reported adverse effects that might include mild headaches, signs of hypertension, constipation or possibly increased symptoms of urinary tract infection.

2. Saffron extract

Some research suggests that taking certain saffron extracts can have positive effects on mood regulation by increasing endorphin and serotonin levels. In addition to elevating mood and reducing the urge to snack, saffron seems to increase serotonin activity in the body. This has been shown to help improve symptoms of depression, emotional eating and PMS after about six to eight weeks of treatment. In fact, certain studies have found that saffron extract can work almost as well as taking a low-dose prescription antidepressant drug, such as fluoxetine or imipramine.

Additionally, while research shows mixed results, there’s some evidence that taking a chemical from saffron called crocetin might decrease fatigue during exercise and help with increasing energy expenditure. To get the antidepressant benefits of saffron, start with the standard daily dose of 30 milligrams, used for up to eight weeks. If you have any existing condition that might interfere with saffron’s influence on serotonin metabolism such as depression, it’s a good idea to get your doctor’s opinion first.


3. Grapefruit essential oil

Grapefruit’s benefits for weight loss have been the focus of dozens of studies and seem to be due to beneficial acids, antioxidants, volatile oils and enzymes that help reduce your appetite, lower cravings, stimulate the lymphatic system and give you a mild dose of uplifting energy.

Research regarding grapefruit’s effects on olfactory stimulation shows that inhaling the fruit’s smell can positively alter autonomic nerve signaling, lipolysis – fat metabolism –and appetite regulation. Here are several findings from a number of studies about how grapefruit essential oil impacts appetite and body weight:

  • The scent of grapefruit oil excites sympathetic nerves that supply the brown adipose tissue and adrenal glands, which may help stimulate weight loss.
  • Smelling grapefruit also helps stimulate ghrelin-induced feeding, making you feel fuller and less likely to give in to cravings.
  • Enzymes found in the rind or skin of the grapefruit have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They can help with the digestion of fats or sugar and the maintenance of balanced blood glucose levels, which might keep you from feeling cranky and in need of a quick caffeine or sugar fix.
  • Grapefruit oil and extract have been shown to be beneficial for those with insulin resistance or diabetes, causing a significant reduction in two-hour post-glucose insulin levels compared with placebo.
  • Some also find that the clean scent of citrus fruits helps reduce cravings for sweets and improves mood enough to reduce emotional eating. Body fat also is broken down by the enzymes found in grapefruit.

Certain studies show that only three 15-minute exposures to grapefruit essential oil each week help reduce participants’ appetites and increase habits such as slow, mindful eating that better control their weight. How can you use grapefruit essential oil at home or when you’re on the go? Trying adding several drops of pure grapefruit essential oil (citrus paradise) either to a diffuser in your office or home, to your shower or bath soap or with a carrier oil to be massaged right onto your skin; do a skin patch test to be sure you don’t have an allergic reaction first.

Learn more about how the use of this plant-based medicine can improve digestion and reduce stress in Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, by Dr Axe, Ty Bollinger and Jordan Rubin.

4. Foods high in fiber

Dietary fibers, whether from food sources or in concentrated supplement form, have been used for hundreds of years to promote fullness, improve gut health and digestive functions, and help maintain strong immunity and heart health. Despite the fact that fiber intake is inversely associated with hunger, body weight and body fat, studies show that the average fiber intake of adults in the United States is still less than half of recommended levels.

What is it about fiber that dulls your appetite? Fiber is not able to be digested once consumed, and it absorbs much of its own weight in water. Thus, high-fiber foods help slow your body’s digestion of glucose – sugar – keep you feeling fuller for longer and beat cravings. Many foods high in fiber are also very nutritionally dense, meaning you get more bang for your nutritional buck and help prevent dehydration or deficiencies.

Eating a high-fiber diet – similar to the Mediterranean diet or the way that those known for longevity living in the Blue Zones eat – has been linked to a longer life span, better regulation of healthy body weight, improved gut and digestive health, hormonal health and much more. According to research in Current Obesity Reports, “Evidence points to a significant association between a lack of fiber intake and: ischemic heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, dyslipidemia, as well as gastrointestinal disorders.”

To fill up on the right foods faster and for longer, consume more high-fiber foods, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, starchy or non-starchy fresh veggies, beans or legumes and fruit, especially berries.

5. Spicy foods

Naturally spicy and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as cayenne, black pepper, curry, turmeric, ginger, dandelion or cinnamon might help increase your body’s ability to burn fat, suppress hunger levels, normalize glucose levels, reduce free radical damage associated with aging and reduce your appetite for sweets.

Studies show that results associated with eating spices, such as cayenne, with high-carb meals indicate that red pepper increases diet-induced thermogenesis – heating the body and burning of fat – and lipid oxidation. Other research regarding the effects of capsaicin, the phytochemical responsible for the spiciness of peppers, shows that this compound can modulate metabolic activities through affecting transient receptors in the digestive system, such as one called TRPV1.

Because they’re loaded with benefits, virtually free from calories and easy to use on all sorts of recipes, there’s basically no reason for anything but love for spices. There’s evidence that including more spices and herbs in your diet – especially turmeric, black pepper and cayenne pepper – can help you reduce intake of things like flavor enhancers, salt and sugar while helping you reduce weight gain without having negative effects. Try adding spices to homemade tea or detox drinks, marinades, on top of fish or other proteins, in a stir-fry, on veggies or in soups.

Other tips for keeping your appetite under control:

  • Consume omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. Both are tied to reduced inflammation, better mood control, anti-aging effects and improved gut and digestive health.
  • Eat enough protein and healthy fats, which are as crucial for controlling hunger pangs as fiber is.
  • Drink more water.
  • Curb emotional eating by managing stress. Learning to eat mindfully can help with feeling more satisfied from your meals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Be careful not to overtrain, which can keep you feeling very hungry and fatigued, no matter what you eat.


This article originally appeared on DrAxe.com and is republished here with permission.

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