Perhaps the biggest obstacle when it comes to maintaining a healthy figure is our tendency to overindulge when it comes to junk food.
There are lots of delicious foods out there for us to eat, and this can make dieting and weight loss very difficult.
You’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, but a tasty treat catches your eye. What do you do?
Do you give in to your craving?
If you’re eating less than you usually do – less than your body is used to. – you may end up suffering withdrawal-like symptoms.
When this happens, your body actually send signals to your brain, saying that it needs even more sugar than before.
But it is possible to keep yourself on track.
Appetite suppressants are often talked about in the diet and health industry, including both natural and non-natural options. While the market is awash with diet pills and appetite suppressant pills making bold claims, in reality there are only a limited number of ingredients that have sufficient and credible scientific backing.
This article explores the world of natural appetite suppressants, as well as uncovering proven tips and tricks to reduce your snacking.
If you struggle with food cravings, portion control, and overeating, then read on for some expert advice on this hotly debated subject.
What Are Appetite Suppressants?
Appetite suppressants can be anything that helps quell your hunger or cravings.
This might include pharmaceuticals with punchy names like Phentermine and Locaserin, that may be prescribed by your doctor in severe cases of obesity or to treat other weight-related health issues.
These medications are regulated, but they can also cause side effects and are not made up of natural ingredients. These drugs are also not effective for everybody and your doctor may suggest you stop taking them if the results are not significant enough to warrant prolonged use.
If you don’t fancy taking such an extreme approach to fat loss then certain foods and drinks are thought to be effective at suppressing appetite, this includes foods that are high in protein or healthy fats, whilst dietary and soluble fiber can also be useful ingredients to promote satiety and a healthy digestion.
On top of this you will also find a handful of natural vitamins and minerals that have been shown by science to support normal bodily functions and keep cravings under control.
However, it is important to note that only a few natural ingredients have been given the green light by the experts when it comes to making health claims.
How Can an Appetite Suppressant Work for Women?
For women trying to lose weight, appetite suppressants can support their efforts by helping to keep their cravings under control. And whilst educating yourself about healthy foods and setting an appropriate meal plan should always be the first step, in many cases it may not be enough to keep temptation at bay.
Unfortunately for women, it also seems we might experience cravings more often and more strongly than men.
A study by Scientific American found that men’s brains are biologically and chemically better equipped to handle cravings and effectively suppress them. No fair!
Hormones also come into play as the majority of women are affected by food cravings more severely leading up to and during menstruation, especially for sweet foods, with chocolate being the main culprit. As well as hormones, this may also come down to our bodies needing an increased amount of energy during these times.
By tracking your cycle and the subsequent food cravings, you can effectively employ appetite suppressants at the right time in order to keep your cravings at bay and stay consistent with your weight loss efforts through the whole month.
How To Suppress Your Appetite – 9 methods for success
So, what can you actually do to suppress your appetite?
We’ll look at some foods and ingredients that can be effective further down this page.
But for now, let’s consider some habits you can employ to keep your appetite and cravings in check.
1. Fasted Cardio
Yes, you heard it correctly! Performing mixed intensity exercise study on an empty stomach can actually cause you to feel less hungry. A 2011 intensity exercise study found that a prolonged period on the treadmill without food reduced participants hunger levels thanks to the effect it had on the ‘hunger hormone’ Ghrelin.
2. Drink plenty of water
Sometimes, when we feel hungry, we might actually just be thirsty. So, making sure you’re well hydrated throughout the day is a good way to control your appetite. Water also fills up your stomach, making you feel fuller quicker when you drink water before and during a meal.
3. Stick to regular meal patterns
If you go a long time without eating, you may end up feeling extremely hungry and maybe even lethargic and irritable. These conditions increase your likelihood of overeating at your next meal and may increase cravings for unhealthy foods. Going a long time without eating and then gorging on high calorie foods can also lead to peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels that also make cravings more common.
4. Count to 25
You’ve probably heard the expression ‘count to 10’ when encountering the frustrations of everyday life. But scientists in America have discovered that pausing for thought can help us increase the rate at which we make healthy choices. Research conducted by Rush University in Chicago found that ‘Vending Machine’ customers were 5% more likely to avoid ‘sweet treats’ when forced to wait 25 seconds before making a purchase.
5. Avoid keeping junk food in the house
We’ve all experienced that last-minute craving before we go to bed and found ourselves raiding the fridge or kitchen cupboard late at night. By keeping your stocks of naughty foods to a minimum you’ll be more inclined to give up your search and forget your latest urge to snack.
6. Cut back on sugar
Of course, eating foods that are high in sugar are also going to cause your blood sugar levels to spike. When people cut out added sugars from their diet, their desire to eat sugary foods decreases dramatically. There has even been found to be an addiction component with sugar, making our cravings worse the more we consume.
7. Limit alcohol intake
As well as most alcoholic drinks being high in sugar and calories, the resulting hangover is also to blame for cravings in most people. We especially tend to crave fatty, greasy foods the day after drinking because this is thought to effectively “soak up” the alcohol content in our system. Fluctuating blood sugar combined with the feeling of a hangover is a sure-fire way to stimulate unwanted cravings.
8. Avoid going ‘cold turkey’
In order to speed up your results it might be tempting to go ‘cold turkey’ and banish all sugary treats from your diet in one clean sweep. However we wouldn’t recommend it, as if done too suddenly it might lead to your body experiencing withdrawal and in turn could actually encourage you to binge eat more often.
9. Add healthy fats and protein to your diet
Although you might try to avoid fatty food when you’re trying to lose weight, foods that are high in unsaturated fats (the healthy kind) have been found to be effective at making you feel full and curb feelings of hunger. Incorporating healthy fats into your breakfast, such as Greek yoghurt or avocado, could be the trick to helping you last until lunchtime without reaching for a sugary snack to keep you going.
On top of this lean meats such as chicken and fish are a great way of getting the nutrients you need whilst lowering your desire for sweet foods.
What Are the Best Appetite Suppressants That Actually Work?
Now onto some of the food, drink, and supplements you can use to try to suppress your appetite in a natural way. Here are some of the top ingredients that are backed by evidence as the best appetite suppressants.
A diet that’s high in fibre is generally good news for weight loss and appetite control. Konjac fibre, or glucomannan, is a natural fiber that has become a popular. In fact it is the only natural ingredient that has been recognized by the European Food Safety Agency for use as a weight loss aid.
In conjunction with a balanced diet, 3g per day of konjac fibre is recommended for overweight patients. It is thought to reduce feelings of hunger by expanding after it is ingested, taking up a greater volume inside your stomach. Combining this with water before a meal can significantly reduce overeating at mealtimes.
We’ve already mentioned that drinking enough water is important for controlling your appetite, now let’s look at the science behind its appetite suppressing qualities. It is likely that filling the stomach with water, and subsequently stretching it through the sheer volume of the water, effectively sends signals of fullness to the brain. A study found that participants who drank one pint of water before their meal consumed more than 100 calories less than the group who did not drink water.
Another study reviewed the evidence surrounding water consumption and weight loss. The results found that increased water consumption made fat loss more effective in participants that were actively trying to lose weight. However, the results were less significant among participants who were not trying to lose weight. This suggests that drinking more water can support weight loss efforts as long as you are psychologically motivated to consume less food and lose weight as a result.
Chromium picolinate has been found to reduce food intake in both rat and human subjects under controlled conditions. As a result of the human trials conducted among adult women who were overweight, participants reported less intense feelings of hunger and fat cravings, and many of the participants lost weight throughout the trial.
While this study could not confirm the mechanism that causes appetite suppression from chromium intake, it is thought that the supplement helps to regulate glucose levels, which can have a significant effect on managing and reducing food cravings.
Oatmeal is a great breakfast alternative to regular cereal. It is lower in sugar and generally higher in fiber, both of which help to keep you feeling full and avoid cravings for the rest of the morning. The beta-glucan fiber in oatmeal is especially thought to be related to the satiety effects of this meal.
One study found that oatmeal significantly reduced hunger and desire to eat, as well as increasing feelings of fullness in participants compared to traditional breakfast cereal.
Oatmeal also has a higher weight than cereal when calories are equivalent. This may be important to satiation because a bowl of oatmeal will physically fill your stomach more than cereal when the same number of calories are consumed.
Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit that has various health benefits. The supplement of the same name is extracted from the peel of the fruit and has been studied for its potential role in appetite suppression. More specifically it is believed that the compound hydroxycitric acid found in this supplement may have a positive impact on blood glucose control as well serotonin levels in the body.
Attempting to stick to a completely ‘sugar-free’ diet is unlikely to be sustainable and could cause you to go backwards rather than forwards with your goals. That said there are definitely more balanced choices we can make each day in order to sensibly reduce our sugar intake. According to one study volunteers who ate 100g of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate experienced improved satiety afterwards.
Vitamin B6, B12
Our body needs lots of different vitamins to function properly and keep us healthy. Vitamins like B6 and B12 are good examples of these essential nutrients, and they may also play a part in weight loss, metabolism, and appetite regulation.
The b complex of vitamins are central to our ability to metabolize protein, while B12 also helps to metabolise fats. Deficiencies of certain vitamins can also increase cravings because your body itself is craving these nutrients. To make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins, you can take supplements or focus on adding foods rich in B vitamins to your diet, such as whole grains, dairy products, nuts and seeds, and foods that are fortified with B vitamins.
Hot or spicy food is often said to boost your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories and lose weight as a result. In the case of cayenne pepper this is attributed to the capsaicin present in the hot spice. A study found that consuming capsaicin at each meal made participants eat less, feel fuller, and avoid cravings after eating.
It is thought to be the thermogenic qualities of capsaicin that affects the metabolism and appetite. So, adding cayenne pepper to your meals could be an effective aid to weight loss and portion control.
Are There Any Side Effects with Appetite Suppressants?
Some appetite suppressants come with bigger risks than others, for instance there are a number of effective weight loss drugs available on prescription, however as with any pharmaceutical the potential for side effects is higher than with natural ingredients.
Consequently some of natural appetite suppressants listed above can be seen as a safer way of supporting your ambitions. If consumed in moderation all of the above should be safe for human consumption, however it still vital to stick to sensible doses whilst using natural supplements. Soluble fiber such as glucomannan can cause possible stomach upset for those people who are particularly sensitive. Consuming Konjac products with a glass of water will ensure that it reaches the intestine safely.
All things considered, provided you are only slightly under your daily recommended calorie intake, then using appetite suppressants could be an effective aid to manage your weight. However it is imperative not to use appetite suppressants to restrict your calories in an extreme way. Doing so can lead to side effects like lethargy, faintness, and headaches. Appetite suppressants should be used to reduce portion sizes and hunger in between or after meals in order to gradually and sustainably lose weight.
What hunger and cravings are telling us?
Appetite suppression can be helpful in our weight loss efforts, but it is also important to know when to listen to your hunger or cravings. Most of the time, hunger means that our body needs food and energy, so it is important to listen to these signals.
You should not try to suppress your appetite to the point of starvation, only as an aid in reducing your calories by a healthy amount. For example, you may stick to a calorie deficit of 250 below your recommended daily allowance in order to lose weight in a sustainable way.
Cravings may also be your body’s way of telling you that it needs more of a certain nutrient or vitamin. Knowing what your cravings mean and listening to them may help you manage them more successfully.
For example, chocolate cravings have been linked with a deficiency in magnesium. So next time you crave chocolate, try eating foods high in magnesium like leafy greens or legumes instead. It is also worth remembering that dark chocolate is a healthier alternative to regular milk chocolate that also contains magnesium.
You don’t have to follow crazy weight loss fads to control your appetite and improve your body shape. Employing some of the tactics highlighted in this article as well as getting the right ingredients in your diet are the best ways of controlling your calorie intake and ensuring you maintain normal bodyweight.
Diets that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats will help you to naturally resist excessive eating. If you find it difficult to get enough fiber into your diet, then supplementing with ingredients like Konjac Fibre can be an effective way of managing your food consumption.
Equally getting enough vitamins and minerals in our diets can also be key, as deficiencies can cause us to reach for the biscuit tin all too hastily.