Diet & Weight Loss
11 Natural Appetite Suppressants That Really Work
Putting the brakes on hunger naturally can help prevent overeating and the weight gain that comes with it. These expert-approved natural appetite suppressants could help us finally lose those last 10 pounds.
Spice it up
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An appetite for spicy food may say certain things about your personality—but more importantly, spicy foods can act as natural appetite suppressants. “The active ingredient in many spicy foods is capsaicin, a compound that acts as a natural appetite suppressant,” adds Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of DrAxe.com, bestselling author of Eat Dirt, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. Not only that, he says, but capsaicin also boosts metabolism so your body burns more calories throughout the day. “Except for bell pepper, all pepper varieties contain a good amount of capsaicin and can be easily added to everything from salsa to soups and sauces,” he says. Cayenne peppers have other health benefits too. As a bonus, “adding a few dashes of the spicy stuff will slow down your eating,” which could lead to your eating less overall, says New York City-based nutritionist Joy L. Bauer, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nourish Snacks, the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show, and author of several books including From Junk Food to Joy Food.
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A whiff of peppermint may keep hunger at bay. “A study found that when participants smelled peppermint every two hours for five days, they consumed nearly 1,800 fewer total calories that week and rated their hunger level significantly lower than participants not exposed to peppermint,” Bauer says. She suggests lighting a peppermint candle, chewing on peppermint gum, or sipping on peppermint tea to get the appetite-suppressing benefits. Learn about 13 other things experts won’t tell you about weight loss.
Add chia seeds as a topping
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Chia seeds are chock-full of fiber, and can therefore be a great appetite suppressant, Bauer says. “Sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal or yogurt, or toss them into smoothies and pancake batter,” she suggests. “They’ll swell in your stomach—up to nine times their size!—to keep you feeling full for hours.” Healthful chia seeds are largely soluble fiber, which has been associated with reduced intake and appetite, Dr. Axe adds. Other smart sources of soluble fiber include legumes, oats, asparagus, and flaxseed. “Remember to increase your fiber intake slowly and pair it with increased water intake as well to prevent unpleasant digestive symptoms like gas and constipation,” he says. Learn about these other 30 tiny diet changes that can help you lose weight.
Eat an apple a day
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Think you know everything about apples and health? Think again. It turns out that eating an apple a day may do more than keep the doctor away; an apple may serve as a natural appetite suppressant. “The combination of pectin, soluble fiber, high water content, and lots of chewing make apples an excellent appetite-taming food,” Bauer says. Plus, these appetite suppressants are portable and portion-controlled, making them an all-around home run, she says.
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Drinking two glasses of water before each meal helps to tame a ferocious appetite, says Bauer.” If water bores you, jazz it up by adding slices of citrus or cucumbers—or a shot of fruit juice,” she suggests. (Here are more flavored water recipes that will make you want to drink up.) Bonus: “If you swap in seltzer water, the bubbles create an even greater sensation of fullness.” Another way to hydrate is to crunch on water-rich veggies—lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, zucchini, and celery. “With more than 95 percent water, these five filler-uppers will keep your appetite in check.” Eat more of these 38 fat-burning foods that help you lose weight.
Sip green tea
Green tea is kind of trendy these days largely because of the many health benefits that it provides. Among them is green tea’s role as a natural appetite suppressant. “Green tea extract affects two important peptide hormones, norepinephrine and dopamine, which activate the sympathetic nervous system,” Dr. Axe says. “Together, these two hormones are called catecholamines and are well known for their ability to suppress appetite.” In particular, green tea contains a powerful compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that is thought to prevent the breakdown of catecholamines, leading to a reduction in appetite, he explains.
Rub on some grapefruit essential oil
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Essential oils have many health benefits, but one in particular, grapefruit essential oil, may also serve as a natural appetite suppressant. “Grapefruit contains a powerful compound called nootkatone that has been shown to activate AMPK, an enzyme involved in energy metabolism and appetite control,” Dr. Axe says. “For this reason, grapefruit essential oil is often used as a natural way to reduce appetite and amp up weight loss.” His advice? “Add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to your water, use it in a diffuser, or apply topically to your chest and wrists to ward off cravings.” Check out these other 23 tricks to flatten your belly—without a lick of exercise.
When you are stressed, your body kicks up production of the hormone cortisol. “High levels of cortisol can lead to an accumulation of abdominal fat as well as other chronic health problems,” says New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nutritious Life. Cortisol also causes the body to form a resistance to leptin—a hormone that sends the signal to the brain that you are full, she says. “The more stressed you are, the more cortisol you secrete, and the less able you are to tell when you are full.” There’s more to it too, she says. “During times of stress, we tend to crave high sugar, high carbohydrate foods that produce serotonin and make us feel calm and in control. So, reducing stress will help reduce these cravings.” She suggests carving out a few minutes to practice deep breathing each day. “Close your eyes, clear your mind, and breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth,” she says.
Do a shot
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Of vinegar or apple cider vinegar, that is (just make sure you drink it the right way). It may serve as an appetite suppressant, although the studies are mixed. One study suggests that it is the unpleasant taste that causes our appetite to cease fire. Participants who drank vinegar with breakfast ate less than their counterparts who didn’t. The reason? They were nauseated. Decide for yourself whether appetite suppressants like that are worth it. You could also try one of these other 14 tips for controlling your strongest food cravings.
Exercise before dinner
While a full day of physical labor might leave you famished, a shorter intense workout might have the opposite effect. One analysis of 20 studies found that exercise suppressed the “hunger hormone” acylated ghrelin while boosting levels of hormones that act as appetite suppressants. Wrap up your gym session right before a meal so that you don’t tempt yourself into eating so much that you negate your workout.
Pay attention to your food
Mindfulness can have a slew of benefits, from pain management to stress reduction, and you can add appetite suppression to the list. Mindful eating techniques could help control emotional eating and binge eating, according to a 2014 review of studies. During every bite, take note of the food’s taste, texture, and smell while also paying attention to your body’s fullness cues. You just might find you don’t need a second helping after all. Don’t miss these other 50 easy ways to lose weight naturally.