Woman on a scale checking her weight

Do Appetite Suppressants Work?

Enjoying delicious foods is one of life's greatest pleasures, but if your wellness goals include maintaining a healthy weight (or, at the very least, making it through an afternoon without a growling stomach that leads to you binging on junk food) perhaps you've wondered if an appetite suppressant would help.

Let's be blunt for a moment: taking anything labeled "appetite suppressant" isn't the healthiest approach—for one thing, you're not addressing the "why" of your food craving in the first place. As for whether supplements labeled "appetite suppressant" work, there are many products on the market with questionable claims.

But that doesn't mean you have no options if you need some help controlling your appetite. Read on for tips for sticking to your plan with more ease…the healthy way.

How can I eat less?

If you're looking for a way to suppress your appetite, what you're really seeking is a way to eat less. And fortunately, you don't need an appetite suppressant to get control of your hunger. Follow these tips and tricks to gain more control over your food intake.

1. DO examine your motivation to eat.

Older man enjoying an ice cream cone

Get in the habit of asking yourself why you're eating before you lift a single morsel to your mouth. Is it because you're hungry? Because the clock says it's lunch time? Or, are you sad, angry or bored?

It's especially important to analyze your motivation to eat when you find yourself craving those salty and sugary foods, as these foods may trigger your body to release brain chemicals like serotonin that make us feel good. This leaves you wanting to experience that good feeling again, meal after meal.

Sugar and salt come in many different forms and are usually present at high levels in overly processed foods. They trigger the release of dopamine which motivates us to engage in rewarding behaviors (aka, eating even more of them!). As time progresses, you can build up a "tolerance" to sweet and salty foods and crave even more to feel rewarded. When this happens, you're not actually eating to feed and fuel your body, but to chase that next wave of feel-good neurotransmitters.

Emotional Eating 101:

Why do we eat when we’re not hungry?

Friends eating cookies for social reasons

The relationship between your brain and your digestive system is complex. Generally speaking, when you feel compelled to eat, your gastrointestinal tract is releasing hormones into the blood that travel to your brain, telling you that you are hungry and need to eat. Once you get your food intake and it starts to digest, other hormones tell your brain that you no longer need to keep eating.

But, it's not always hunger that motivates you to open the pantry or refrigerator. Your emotions, daily habits and your immediate environment can motivate you to eat.

Many people eat for entertainment, for pleasure, or because of social reasons—a party, a wedding, or another special event. This is a normal, healthy part of being alive, and if you do it occasionally, it should not impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight.

However, if you find yourself eating often because there is nothing else to do or because you need to decompress after a long, hard day, you might be partaking in "emotional eating." This means that your mind and body conflate hunger and cravings, leading you to eat to make yourself feel better by filling emotional needs rather than to satisfy physical hunger.

2. DO: Eat enough of the right foods.

One way to make mindlessly noshing less likely is to be more thoughtful when you do eat, with the goal of fueling a healthy body. Focus on eating enough of the kinds of foods that will keep you feeling nourished and satisfied. Make sure that your plate is filled with lean protein, complex carbs and high-fiber foods, all of which serve to promote satiety.

Protein is the most filling macronutrient and changes the levels of hormones that signal to your brain if you are full. That's one reason why you should make sure that each meal includes chicken, eggs, beef, pork, fish, or a plant-based protein, like tofu. You'll also want to include foods that are high in dietary fiber, which help you feel full for a longer period of time and regulate the amount of time it takes to digest your food.

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3. DON’T snack on foods with added sugars and salt.

In between your main meals, if you're hungry, choose a snack that is plant-based or high in protein, rather than turning to potato chips or a candy bar. Fresh fruit, nuts, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are all great options that will help keep those cravings in check. A bag of pretzels or a can of cola, on the other hand, may taste good going down, but can impact your weight management goals in the long run.

4. DO hydrate with the right beverages.

Woman drinking green tea which is a natural appetite suppressant

When it comes to naturally suppressing your appetite, H2O is the way to go—not because water is an "appetite suppressant," but because our bodies often confuse hunger and thirst. Consuming an 8 oz glass of water before a meal can stop you from eating to hydrate instead of to nourish. Additionally, starting a meal with soup can make you feel fuller. While no one is suggesting a "liquid diet," adding more liquids to your diet can help you keep the hunger at bay!

Also, good news for coffee connoisseurs: drinking a cup of hot coffee can have similar impact on how much food you consume at meals. In fact, a study found that coffee decreases your food intake not only at meals, but through the whole day!

Another liquid that helps suppress your appetite is green tea. This antioxidant-rich beverage has natural properties that can help keep hunger at bay. Green tea also affects dopamine and norepinephrine in your body, which can lead to decreased hunger, supporting your weight management goals.

Do supplements help you manage weight?

Woman taking an appetite suppressant supplement

If you're a veteran dieter, you've probably heard all of this advice before—yet, do you still find yourself snacking? Luckily there are supplements you can incorporate in your wellness routine that can support your healthy weight efforts:

  • Lemon verbena & hibiscus formula:

    This combo can help you feel more full from the foods you eat, so you're more likely to step away from the table without a "clean plate." Combined with reduced calorie intake, exercise, and logging healthy habits, these nutrients produced up to 5% weight loss in clinical studies.
  • White kidney bean extract.

    A little legume goes a long way when it comes to your weight management goals. White kidney bean extract helps support normal signaling of gut hormones that control appetite and satiety. This nutrient also helps to modulate the enzymes that convert dietary starches into simple sugars—which may help inhibit the amount of carbs that you digest from the food you consume.
  • Saffron.

    Saffron can help you maintain a healthy weight by helping you cut back on stress eating. This pretty plant is a great option for caffeine-free appetite management support.
  • AMPK activator.

    Maintaining optimal AMPK levels can help you burn belly fat for energy—making it a must for anyone seeking a slimmer silhouette!

Are supplements for weight management safe?

Various accessories for diet and exercise as part of your weight management goals

While these supplements are safe, it is best to speak with your doctor first prior to incorporating them into your weight management plan. Make sure to follow the dosage guide on the bottle and not take more than what is recommended.

To achieve a healthy weight, what matters most is adhering to a healthy, nutrient rich diet, coupled with at least 300 minutes of exercise per week.

About the Author: Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.