No doubt about it, overeating (high calorie intake) and its connection to obesity is one of the most complex and challenging issues in health care today. That’s where a natural appetite suppressant can help.
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.
In addition to improving your diet and exercise habits, certain natural appetite suppressants can help you achieve satiety, avoid overeating and lose weight, all without the dangers of most diet pills.
What is the best thing to suppress your appetite? First and foremost, it’s essential to eat a healthy diet consistently, which makes you feel full.
Supplements, certain nutrients, teas and spices may also be able to help with weight management. In fact, throughout history people around the world have used these same natural appetite suppressant ingredients for their positive metabolic effects.
What Is an Appetite Suppressant?
Appetite suppressants are either pills, drinks, supplements or whole foods that help keep you from overeating. Some types are “natural,” meaning they’re derived from foods and plants, while some are synthetically made in a lab.
How does an appetite suppressant work?
There’s a lot at play when it comes to suppressing or stimulating your daily appetite.
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 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, such as:
- Burning more stored body fat for energy (these are known as thermogenics)
- Improving balance of blood sugar levels
- Curbing cravings for junk foods or sweets
- Supporting thyroid health
- Increasing release of “happy hormones” or endorphins like serotonin
- Possibly giving you a bit more energy throughout the day to be used for physical activity
Top 8 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 like 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 weight management.
A Cochrane meta-anylsis including 14 studies involving use of green tea found that its consumption was associated with mild but significant benefits related to weight control compared to controls or placebos. One study that tested the effects of green tea extract on a group of adults compared to a control group not taking green tea found that after 12 weeks, those taking 857 milligrams of green tea had significantly lower levels of ghrelin (known as the hunger hormone).
People in the green tea extract group also experienced 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.
EGCG, the most abundant green tea catechin and a powerful bioactive constituent, has also been shown to act like a cancer-fighting compound and promote thermogenic activities in studies. Therefore, it may help decrease fat cell proliferation and help burn body fat for energy.
How to take it:
Although not every study has shown it can promote weight loss, green tea seems safe for most adults to take up to 800–900 milligrams daily. It’s typically by mouth in one to two capsules per day.
If you do take it, be on the lookout for side effects such as headaches, signs of hypertension, constipation or possibly increased symptoms of urinary tract infection.
2. Saffron Extract
Saffron seems to help reduce snacking and can cause an elevated mood, which 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 boost the health perks of healthy diet and exercise. It can possibly decrease fatigue during exercise and help with increasing energy expenditure.
How to take it:
To get the antidepressant benefits of saffron, start with the 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 (like depression, for example), it’s a good idea to get your doctor’s opinion first.
3. Grapefruit Essential Oil
Grapefruit’s benefits for weight loss seem to be due to beneficial acids, antioxidants, volatile oils and enzymes that help control calorie intake. Grapefruit may help lower cravings, stimulate the lymphatic system and give you a mild dose of uplifting energy.
Research regarding grapefruit’s effects on olfactory stimulation (how smelling the aroma affects the central nervous system) shows that inhaling the fruit’s smell can positively alter autonomic nerve signaling, lipolysis (fat metabolism) and appetite regulation.
- The scent of grapefruit oil excites sympathetic nerves that supply the brown fat and adrenal glands, which may help people lose weight.
- Smelling grapefruit also helps stimulate ghrelin-induced feeding, making you feel full and less likely to give in to cravings.
- Enzymes found in the rind (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.
- Grapefruit oil and extract have been shown to be beneficial for people 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.
How to use it:
Certain studies have shown that just three 15-minute exposures to grapefruit essential oil each week helped participants suppress their appetites and practice healthy diet habits (like slow, mindful eating).
Trying adding several drops of pure grapefruit essential oil (citrus paradise) to a diffuser in your office/home, your shower or bath soap, or with a carrier oil to be massaged right onto your skin. (Just do a skin patch test to be sure you don’t have an allergic reaction first.)
4. Foods and Supplements High in Fiber
What is the strongest natural appetite suppressant? A healthy diet!
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? Because fiber is not able to be digested once consumed, plus it absorbs so much of its own weight in water, high-fiber foods help slow your body’s digestion of glucose (sugar). This makes you feel full for longer so you can manage your calorie intake.
Many foods high in fiber are also very nutritionally dense, meaning you “get more bang” for your nutritional buck.
Eating a high-fiber diet has even been linked to a longer life span. According to research in the 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.”
How to do it:
Aim for at least 30 grams of fiber per day. Consume more high-fiber foods, including:
- chia seeds
- all types of fresh veggies, like artichokes and leafy greens
- all types of fresh fruit (especially berries).
Supplements within fiber, such as psyllium husk, can help you meet your needs. Glucomannan is another type of water-soluble dietary fiber found in konjac root that can potentially curb your appetite by filling up your stomach.
Finally, fenugreek seeds, which are rich in fiber and other compounds, have been shown to possibly help with weight management by contributing to fullness.
5. Spicy Foods
Naturally spicy (plus anti-inflammatory) ingredients like cayenne, black pepper, curry, turmeric, ginger, dandelion and cinnamon might help increase your body’s ability to burn fat.
They can also suppress hunger levels, normalize glucose levels and reduce free radical damage associated with aging.
Studies have found that results associated with eating spices like 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, has shown that this compound can modulate metabolic activities through affecting transient receptors in the digestive system, such as one called TRPV1.
How to use them:
Because they’re loaded with benefits, virtually free from calories and easy to use on all sorts of recipes, there’s basically no reason not to add more spicy foods and herbs to your diet. Focus on types like turmeric, black pepper, chili and cayenne pepper.
Try adding some to homemade tea or detox drinks, marinades, on top of fish or other proteins, in a stir-fry, on veggies, or in soups.
6. High-Protein Diet
Protein has been found to be naturally filling and also requires the body to work harder to break it down. Eating plenty of protein can contribute to reduced ghrelin levels, increased thermogenesis and a healthy metabolism — plus it can help build and maintain lean muscle mass, which equates to a healthy body composition.
Here’s an added bonus: Eating protein foods like meat and eggs provides you with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural fatty acid that some find to be filling. CLA is even used as weight loss supplement, although findings on its effectiveness have been mixed.
How to do it:
Include protein-rich foods in every meal and snack, aiming for about 30 grams of protein with each main meal of the day. Try replacing high-calorie junk foods, such as those with added sugar and white flour, with protein instead.
For the most benefits, focus on a combination of protein, healthy fats and fiber. For example, combine protein sources like poultry, grass-fed beef, fish, eggs, beans, legumes or yogurt with vegetables and fats, such as olive oil, avocado, nuts or seeds.
7. Ketogenic Diet/Being in Ketosis
When in ketosis, many people report that they experience a drop in their appetite, especially for sugary foods and refined carbs.
The keto diet can be combined with intermittent fasting for even more help with weight control and managing food intake.
How to do it:
Emphasize healthy fats in your diet, which are just as crucial for feeling full and staying satisfied as fiber and protein are. To get into ketosis, aim to have at least 75% of your daily calories come from fats, such as coconut and olive oil, butter, eggs, nuts, seeds, and fatty cuts of meat. At the same time, avoid sugar and most carbs other than non-starchy vegetables.
8. Regular Eating Schedule
To help regulate your appetite hormones and train your body when to expect to eat, try to have meals at the same times every day if you can.
Eat until satisfied, but not stuffed, to the point that you can skip snacks. Aim for balanced meals that will do the best job of turning off hunger.
Consider stopping eating at least two to three hours before going to sleep, which helps support general metabolic health.
How to do it:
Plan your meals so you’re eating at the same time every day. Try to eat about every three to five hours depending on your schedule and exact diet. Don’t skip meals or snack out of boredom, as this can mess with hunger and fullness cues.
Related: 7 Natural Fat Burners that Work
Dangers of Diet Pills
Is there a pill that curbs your appetite? While some formulas can help dull hunger, most are unsafe and can cause side effects.
Commercially sold diet pills usually contain a mix of stimulants, including caffeine, herbs, and sometimes digestive enzymes or acids. Generally, they come with adverse reactions, such as anxiety and indigestion, making them a risky way to shed extra weight.
Some of the main reasons that appetite-suppressing weight loss products are considered to be at least somewhat dangerous include:
- Adverse reactions to stimulants
- Possible medication interactions
- Tainted or unlisted ingredients
- High amounts of caffeine
- Fillers or synthetic additives that cause negative reactions
Caffeine is one of the most common weight loss ingredients because it often has the appealing effects of dulling someone’s appetite, improving motivation and increasing energy for activity. However, too much caffeine within a short time period can cause strong side effects, such as:
- heart palpitations
- and more
Due to interactions with medications or changes in blood pressure, other side effects of popular weight loss pills can include:
- trouble sleeping
- rapid heartbeat
- blood pressure changes that can sometimes be dangerous
Some commercially available thermogenic supplements (especially those containing ephedrine, also called ephedra) have even been found to induce acute liver failure and contribute to serious reactions like excessive bleeding, increased pressure in the brain, fatigue, malaise and jaundice. This is one reason why ephedrine is now banned as a dietary supplement ingredient in the U.S.
Other Ways for How to Suppress Appetite
What else will suppress your appetite naturally? Here are some natural appetite suppressant tips:
- Avoid fad diets and severe calorie restriction, which can slow down your metabolism while also revving up hunger.
- Consume omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. Both are tied to reduced inflammation, better mood control, anti-aging effects and improved gut/digestive health.
- Drink lots of water, since dehydration can lead to fatigue and cravings. Other hydrating drinks include herbal teas, seltzer, unsweetened coconut water and bone broth.
- Curb emotional eating by managing stress. Learning to eat mindfully can help with feeling more satisfied from your meals.
- If you have cravings for sugary treats, try dark chocolate instead. Choose chocolate with a high cacao percentage to avoid too much sugar.
- Get enough sleep, which supports normal hormone production and helps prevent overeating.
- Be careful not to overtrain or over-exercise, which can keep you feeling very hungry and fatigued no matter what you eat.
- Treat underlying health conditions that can affect your metabolism, such as thyroid or autoimmune disorders.
Natural Appetite Suppressant Risks and Side Effects
Is it dangerous to suppress your appetite? It depends how you approach it.
Because there’s always the risk for developing side effects when using the ingredients mentioned above, pay attention to how you feel even when using any new herbs or supplements.
Follow dosage directions carefully, as high doses can possibly cause dangerous reactions like poisoning, yellow appearance of the skin or mucous membranes, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and heart problems.
Generally speaking, not enough is known about the safety of using even natural appetite suppressants during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so to stay on the safe side it’s wise to avoid use of supplements mentioned above during these times.
Children and the elderly should also generally avoid consuming too much caffeine or supplements without a doctor’s opinion first.
If you have any of the below health conditions, talk to a professional before attempting to suppress your appetite for weight loss (especially if you take medications daily):
- Heart conditions, like high or low blood pressure or palpitations.
- A mental health condition like anxiety, insomnia, depression or bipolar disorder, since certain supplements like saffron or green tea extract may affect your mood and energy levels.
- Dizziness or vertigo, as even low levels of caffeine can make these worse.
- Allergies to pepper, Lolium, Olea or Salsola plant species, since some herbs or spices like saffron and cayenne can cause allergic reactions in susceptible people.
- What can you take to suppress your appetite and lose weight? There’s no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise when it comes to promoting weight loss safely.
- That said, some ingredients, such as herbs and spices, may help you reduce your food intake. These natural appetite suppressants include green tea extract, high-fiber foods, saffron extract, grapefruit essential oil and spices like cayenne.
- These ingredients can help with weight management by curbing cravings, inducing thermogenesis, warming the body, balancing blood sugar levels, absorbing water in your digestive tract, reducing inflammation, improving your mood or energy, and balancing hunger/fullness hormones, like ghrelin and leptin.
- Be careful about consuming popular weight loss products. These can cause side effects, including jitteriness, anxiety, trouble sleeping and indigestion.
- It’s best to stick with natural appetite suppressant foods and spices instead.