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Review: What are the best natural appetite suppressants?

The science is unequivocal: Your diet, and specifically your ability to control the quality and quantity of foods you consume each day is the key to reaching and maintaining your ideal weight.

This sounds easy enough, but in practice even the best intentions can fall short… If you frequently feel hungry after a meal, crave sweet or savoury snacks in between meals, or simply find yourself raiding the fridge at night in search for a fix, you know there are many ways a healthy diet can get derailed!

So what can you do about it? Well, the most effective way of dealing with overeating and cravings is to target the underlying causes.

To help you tackle this head on we are going to look at some of the most common reasons that can trigger hunger in the first place.

Then for each craving or hunger trigger, we will cover the most effective natural appetite suppressants ranked by the amount of supporting studies available.

We have also included recommended dosages and suggested supplements featuring these active ingredients.

The #1 Misconception: Hunger and cravings are just a matter of willpower or genetics…

The biggest mistake many make is to believe hunger and cravings are just a matter of willpower or genetics. If you think some people are born thin and with iron clad will then think again…Science has found that your predisposition for eating and how you deal with cravings has a lot more to do with your hormones (affected by your diet, environment, and lifestyle) than with your willpower or genetic factors!

With that in mind, lets look at the most common hunger triggers and how you can target these head on:

Target Ghrelin – Your Hunger hormone

Studies have found that hunger is largely regulated by two key hormones: Ghrelin and Leptin.

Let’s look at Ghrelin first, which is responsible for telling your brain that your body needs more food, as you can imagine this is one of the main contributors of snacking.

Under normal circumstances, your body secretes Ghrelin to notify us when food is needed to avoid starvation. But other factors such as your diet, and stress can spike Ghrelin levels, triggering hunger pangs and cravings.

Increased levels of Ghrelin also have an impact on your metabolism, slowing it down and increasing the potential for fat storage.

Lets look at what can positively impact Ghrelin levels:

Fibre

Did you know 97% in the US consume less than half the daily fibre recommendation (and similar stats can be seen in the UK and the rest of Europe).

Yet fibre intake is inversely associated with hunger, body weight, body fat[1]. Not only does fibre help you feel fuller for longer, but early studies have found a positive correlation between a higher fibre intake and lower ghrelin levels[2].

Consuming more non starchy vegetables is our favourite source of fibre as you don’t get the sugar associated with fruits and starchy vegetables.

You can also supplement your diet with a dietary fibre complex containing a wide range of different fibre rich foods in a concentrated format or leverage a fibre based fat burner such as glucomannan or yacon.

Supporting studies: 25

Optimal dosage: 30 grams fibre per day

Protein

Protein has some interesting digestive properties; For example, did you know that it takes your body 10 to 15 more energy to digest protein than carbohydrates and fat?

Eating protein at every meal, and especially at breakfast can help keep you feeling fuller for longer, and early studies have found it may also help reduce ghrelin levels too[3].

You can also boost your protein intake with a protein shake for a quick, tasty and filling drink.

There are many different types of protein powders you can choose from including Whey protein (made using dairy), as well as vegan friendly Rice protein, Pea protein and Hemp protein.

Supporting studies: 24

Optimal dosage:   56-91 grams per day for the average male, 46-75 grams per day for the average female.

 

Green Tea Extract

Green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly EGCG which appears to have a positive effect on energy expenditure and fat oxidation[4].

One study in particular found that green tea may also have a lowering effect on ghrelin leading to increased adiponectin levels[5].

Supporting studies: 10

Optimal dosage: 400-856mg EGCG

 

Recommended supplements:

Target Leptin – Your “I’m full” hormone

Leptin works as an appetite suppressor, and when it is produced it tells your brain that your body has enough energy stores.

Under normal circumstances, your body secretes leptin when you’re full and no longer need additional food.

As is the case with Ghrelin, many factors can deregulate Leptin secretion, leading us to still feel hungry and never quite satisfied until we’ve essentially over-eaten.

Let’s see how weight gain can lead to a vicious cycle of more weight gain:

  • Your diet and lifestyle can cause you to gain weight.
  • Weight gain has an effect on Leptin production, which causes overweight and obese people to become “leptin resistant”, affecting the delivery of the “i’m satisfied” message to your brain.
  • This causes you to feel hungry and eat more, and these additional calories in turn cause more fat storage, which further affects leptin levels causing the cycle to repeat itself.

Make fat loss a priority

The first step to breaking the leptin “resistance” vicious cycle to to lose body fat, by improving your diet.

You can also accelerate results using thermogenic fat burners, for a ranking of the most effective fat burning supplements be sure to check out our in depth guide here.

Use the HIIT / Burst workout protocol


Studies have found exercise can have a positive effect on Ghrelin and Leptin, in particular High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Burst Training.

Burst and HIIT training consists of alternating short bursts of high intensity exercises, for example running or aerobic workouts where you go all out followed by short, active recovery periods. This type of workout has been found to positively influence leptin and adiponectin production, helping promote better satiety[6].

 

Boost your Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio

Modern western diets promote an unhealthy Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, which has been associated with weight gain as well as an increase in leptin and insulin resistance.

A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids has a wide range of benefits, yet this is one of the most overlooked, and deficient nutrient in the average European or American diet.

Krill oil is a great way to ensure you get your daily dose of health boosting Omega 3 fats, without the fishy burps or aftertaste.

 

Recommended supplements:

 

Target Cortisol, serotonin and emotional eating

Your lifestyle, high levels of stress, and poor nutrition can spike your levels of cortisol and prevent your body from producing enough essential hormones such as serotonin.

Studies have found that low serotonin levels can trigger a wide range of health problems including cravings, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and sleep problems.

If you find yourself craving something sweet or savoury after a difficult day at work, or when you feel upset don’t beat yourself up, these events probably triggered a hormonal chain reaction.

Saffron

Saffron is widely known as being one of the most expensive spices in the world as it is cultivated from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus plant.

What makes saffron unique is it’s safranol and crocin contents, which early studies indicate may have antidepressant effects by modulating the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin[17].

Supporting studies: 9

Optimal dosage: 30-200mg saffron

5-HTP (Griffonia simplicifolia seed)

Your body produces serotonin by converting tryptophan found in foods, into an amino acid called 5-HTP which is then used as the building block to produce serotonin.

The Griffonia simplicifolia seed is naturally rich in 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and can help provide your body with the raw material needed for natural serotonin production[18].

Supporting studies: 3

Optimal dosage: 100-300mg 5-HTP (from griffonia simplicifolia seed)

Recommended supplements:

Which types of appetite suppressants can be combined & how long should I take a supplement?

Before combining more than one supplement, be sure to check how the active ingredients work. For example, you don’t want to combine more than one fibre based or serotonin based supplement.

Fibre, protein, green tea, omega 3 and serotonin based supplements can all be used together but we generally recommend not stacking more than 2 or 3 weight loss supplements at a time, and using weight loss supplements for no more than 3-6 months at a time. You can always restart a cycle a few months later to boost results.

That said, omega 3, protein and fibre supplementation is frequently used longer term to complement a healthy diet and target weak spots.

Finally remember that all supplements should supplement a healthy diet, rather than substitute it.


[1] Dietary fiber and body weight.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15797686

Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6879

[2] Fiber intake predicts ghrelin levels in overweight and obese postmenopausal women

http://www.eje-online.org/content/161/1/65.full.pdf

[3] The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/101/6/1320S.long

[4] The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21366839

[5] Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26093535

[6] Effect of 8 Weeks of High Intensity Interval Training on Plasma Levels of Adiponectin and Leptin in Overweight Nurses

http://journals.sbmu.ac.ir/nbm/article/view/10474

[7] Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25384672

[8] A REVIEW ON GRIFFONIA SIMPLICIFOLLIA – A NATURAL

ANTI-DEPRESSANT HD Mehta (Upadhye)*, SV Mangrulkar, AJ Chourasia


2017-04-24T15:14:50+00:00

About the Author:

Michael Baran is our head of marketing and one of our resident supplement geeks. He loves to share the latest trends and demystify the science behind what works and what doesn't in the health and fitness world.

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