- If you’re dieting properly, then you’re guaranteed to run into hunger pangs at some point.
- Appetite suppressants work by decreasing your urge to eat and increasing how full you feel after meals. Some work better than others, and some have dangerous side effects.
- The best natural appetite suppressants are protein supplements, 5-HTP, and most kinds of stimulants, which can be used simultaneously to help you lose weight faster.
If you’ve been online in the health and wellness community for long enough, you’ll have come across the absolute best exercises for losing weight; “fork put downs” and “table push aways.”
If you’ve been trying to lose weight for some time however, you’ll realize that these are sometimes expert level exercises. They’re not that easy.
Unfortunately, problems with appetite are sometimes seen a lot like alcoholism. I don’t mean they share the same severity, they totally don’t, but you will get a lot of people blaming you rather than trying to help you.
“Just eat less, it’s not that hard.”
“Oh, you binged again? Well, have you tried not doing that?”
“I can’t help you lose weight if you keep on screwing yourself over in the kitchen.”
Well, geniuses of the Internet, if it was easy to not eat food then don’t you think people would be doing that already? Eating less is the best way to lose weight and save money at the same time, rather than spending it. Just because it’s logical doesn’t make it easy. If that were true then everybody would be doing it.
Lots of people have, for their entire lives, used food as a reward. To restrict their own reward, and then not be allowed to have their reward after they succeed is tough. It’s like going into an apathetic void of brain fog and sadness. And sure, you can rewire your habits over time and eventually your body will self-regulate so hunger won’t be an issue anymore, but it takes time. This period is a trial by fire where many people fail.
There are some supplements that can help you during this tenuous time, which you’re going to learn about in this article.
By the end, you’ll know what appetite suppressants are, the best three natural appetite suppressants, the worst three appetite suppressants, and whether or not appetite suppressants are safe, and which ones you should take and how to take them to lose weight.
Let’s get started.
- What Is Appetite?
- What Are Appetite Suppressants?
- The Best 3 Natural Appetite Suppressant
- The Best Natural Appetite Suppressant #1
- Protein Supplements
- The Best Natural Appetite Suppressant #2
- The Best Natural Appetite Suppressant #3
- 2 More Natural Appetite Suppressants to Try
- The Worst 3 Appetite Suppressant Supplements
- Are Appetite Suppressants Safe?
- The Bottom Line on Appetite Suppressants
Table of Contents
Appetite is one of many terms used to refer to overall “regulation of food intake” in the human body, which really boils down to three things:
- Appetite: A desire to consume or crave something; more psychological than physical.
- Hunger: A desire to consume or crave nourishment; more physical than psychological.
- Satiety: A lack of desire to consume or crave nourishment; gustatory contentment.
The human body requires food. It requires good food more than bad food and there comes a point where the body no longer needs any more food. If appetite, hunger, and satiety all work together well, then the body chugs along just fine and you can stay within a healthy, normal BMI with ease.
However, there are problems that arise when any of the three get out of hand:
- Appetite: Excessive appetite leads to a top-down (arising from higher, conscious, decision making) desire to eat more food than necessary. You can choose to ignore these emotions but it’s very possible that they will cause some stress responses.
- Hunger: Excessive hunger leads to a bottom-up (more physiological and instinctive) food-seeking behavior. It happens when you’re not eating as many calories as your body wants and is pretty much unavoidable during long-term weight loss.
- Satiety: The inability to become satiated with a meal means that one meal can’t satisfy these desires. One of something won’t cut it and you’ll need two, or three, etc.
When these systems are out of whack, and passive food intake is increased, many people are met with a decision to either succumb to their desires and gain body fat or suck it up and deal with it which then promotes stress over the long term.
So really, it’s choosing the lesser of two evils until you’re able to do something (take a supplement, make a dietary or lifestyle change, etc.) that fixes the underlying problem.
Note that the above just refers to when appetite regulation gets messed up in a manner which promotes weight gain, which is what happens to most people. It can also get screwed up in the opposite way, where someone is satiated with a single 300-calorie meal for an entire day, but this article is about appetite suppressants after all.
“Appetite suppressant” is the most common way to refer to a group of supplements that act to reduce food intake. While named after appetite, these supplements can also target both hunger and satiety. In other words, anything that makes you eat less.
They’re commonly used alongside fat burners and sometimes also put within fat burning supplements, like we did in Phoenix, as a sort of “compound therapy.” If you can get fat by various means then a fat burning supplement should target all those means after all.
These supplements can range from those which prevent you from eating (by making you feel “full”), those that can help reduce emotional and binge eating, and even some that simply make each meal feel more satisfying so you don’t want to go and get seconds.
However, the history of appetite suppressants (both supplemental and pharmaceutical) is a history of compounds that have also had effects beyond that of harsh, sometimes dangerous side effects. The regulation of hunger is pretty important and how our body manages it pretty complex, which leads to a lot of side-effects.
So, which are safe and which aren’t? Even beyond that, which ones are effective?
The three best natural appetite suppressants are:
- Protein supplements.
Let’s start with the safest, most reliable, and cheapest of the three.
Low hanging fruit, of course, but it would be really weird to have an article about appetite suppression and not mention the role protein plays here.
Among dietary components, both protein and fiber tend to promote the greatest increase in satiety, and whey protein in particular seems to have additional satiety effects relative to other proteins and amino acid supplements.
This may be due to its ability to increase something called peptide YY in the brain, which then reduces food intake, associated with two proteins found within whey protein known as beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin.
So while protein, per se, reduces hunger and improves satiety, whey protein seems to be even better at this.
It should be noted that some studies do note that, despite reductions in how hungry people say they are, food intake sometimes does not change. If using protein supplementation for the purpose of weight loss isn’t a magic bullet, it can still make each day of dieting a bit easier and improves health to boot.
You don’t even need too much protein to get this effect as 20 grams, just a bit under a single scoop of most protein supplements, has shown these benefits.
Protein itself can reduce hunger and improve satiety while whey protein seems to be better at this than other forms of dietary protein. This is another feather in the hat of whey protein when it comes to weight loss.
For reducing appetite, try to eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. You can adjust that based on your preferences, training plan, and results.
You want to get most of your protein from whole, minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods, but sometimes that’s not easy.
That’s where a quality whey protein supplement can come in handy, and why we created Whey+.
It’s a 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate protein powder made from exceptionally high-quality milk from small dairy farms in Ireland.
It contains no GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk, and it tastes delicious and mixes great.
So, if you want a clean, all-natural, and great tasting whey protein supplement that’s low in calories, carbs, and fat, then you want to try WHEY+ today.
5-HTP is a dietary supplement that’s known to be a serotonin precursor.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as the “happy neurotransmitter” but it also has various roles in appetite regulation, libido, depression, and cardiac and gut health.
5-HTP has two roles when it comes to the topic du jour. It can reduce food intake outright, in one condition, and it may alter food preferences.
When it comes to appetite, we have three separate studies all showing benefits of 5-HTP supplementation in obese and prediabetic patients (people who were experiencing early symptoms of diabetes). It should be noted that these studies were all conducted by the same research group, although one other study did note some benefit in women who were just overweight.
It was shown that brain levels of tryptophan, the amino acid that turns into 5-HTP, are lower in the obese and those with prediabetes than in normal people.
There’s also evidence that serotonin itself has a link to carbohydrates, with lower serotonin increasing carbohydrate cravings and elevated serotonin (the likely result of supplementing 5-HTP) suppressing carbohydrate cravings.
This would make sense since carbohydrates have a role in serotonin synthesis and other serotonergic drugs can reduce carbohydrate cravings. If we look at the previous three studies, only one found a specific decrease in carbohydrate intake (the other two found carbs and fats were both reduced to a similar degree).
5-HTP seems to have evidence to support a reduction in appetite and perhaps a lessening of carbohydrate cravings, but it may be conditional.
Most studies are conducted in those who may have low serotonin status. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that taking 5-HTP just corrects a deficiency, which means it might not work for the rest of us. That said, the evidence is pretty good that it helps.
For reducing appetite and carbohydrate cravings, the clinically effective dosage of 5-HTP is, based on the above studies, in the range of 750 to 900 mg a day.
We included 5-HTP in our fat burner, Phoenix, to help reduce cravings but as you may see the dose we use is noticeably lower (150 mg). This is simply because serotonin is involved in regulating the heart and excessive signaling can cause damage, as seen with fenfluramine.
Since we have other stimulants in Phoenix, and some agents that could augment serotonin (such as EGCG and hordenine), we opted for a lower dose to play it safe.
Nevertheless, the combination of ingredients in Phoenix speeds up your metabolism, helps your body burn fat more efficiently, and helps you control hunger and cravings and maintain high energy levels.
It also contains no artificial food dyes, fillers, or other unnecessary junk.
So, if you want to burn more fat every day and have an easier time sticking to your diet without having to pump yourself full of harsh stimulants or potentially harmful chemicals, then you want to try PHOENIX today.
For our purposes, we’re going to define stimulants as anything that can increase the catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine) after supplementation. These neurotransmitters, but mostly norepinephrine (NE), can reduce hunger and may have a specific link to emotional eating.
They are a double-edged sword, though, since you can’t simply take a ton of them to keep on reducing hunger. They’ll eventually cause nausea by the exact same mechanism and stimulants are well known to cause heart and excitation issues if taken in too large of a dose.
If you’re looking for a stimulant, then I recommend you start with infrequent caffeine use. If you are tolerant to caffeine and looking for an alternative, then yohimbine is a reliable and potent option if you make sure not to take too much (it can give the jitters something fierce in some).
While we don’t recommend (wink) ephedrine due to it (wink) technically not being legal to sell as a fat burner (wink), it also has these beneficial properties.
Ultimately, anything that increases adrenaline signaling in the body can also work to reduce appetite and hunger. A balance needs to be achieved, however, since the way it reduces appetite is the exact same way it eventually induces nausea.
If you want to try stimulants for this purpose, I recommend you start with 200 mg of caffeine per day and see how you feel, or about 14 mg of yohimbine per day. You can work up to 40 mg only if you get used to the lower dose and don’t take other stimulants; as always, stop if you experience side-effects.
If you’re looking for a naturally sweetened and flavored stimulant that reduces appetite, while increasing energy, improving mood, sharpening mental focus, increasing strength and endurance, and reducing fatigue, without unwanted side effects, then you want to try Pulse today.
And if you’re interested in giving yohimbine a whirl, then you want to try our pre-workout fat burner, Forge.
Given how two of the three top appetite suppressants were obvious low-hanging fruit, I can see how people could end this section thinking that it was completely boring with no new and cool ideas.
Well, that’s why I’m including a few honorable mentions. These two supplements may not be something I can put my faith behind but, hey, they’re pretty cool and worth knowing about.
Caralluma fimbriata is an Indian herb known for being a “famine herb.” Not something that causes famine, mind you, but something to eat during famine since traditional reports state that feelings of hunger and thirst are lessened when caralluma is paired with minimal food intake.
The first time it was studied it helped reduce appetite and food intake later shown to benefit children with Prader-Willi Syndrome (which causes an increase in appetite). Unfortunately, not all is well and good in the fimbriata court, and one study failed to note a beneficial effect.
It’s an honorable mention because, at this moment in time, it would be wrong to conclude that this supplement “works” for appetite suppression yet, at the same time, it appears to be a potentially viable non-stimulatory supplement.
Caralluma fimbriata may be able to reduce appetite but requires more evidence.
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is a small signaling molecule that’s naturally produced in the body but can also be supplemented (usually in the form of N-oleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine). It has roles in satiety promotion, making you feel more full after meals.
To put it bluntly, it’s horrendously effective in research animals. Food intake reduced by at least 40% when injected and a more modest 15.5% when taken orally. Not only does it increase satiety but, according to one human study, it may also have anti-impulsive properties as assessed in alcoholics.
As a side note, it’s also known that olive oil ingestion improves satiety, but it seems to be that this is due to the oleic acid content (main fatty acid in olive oil) stimulating production of oleoylethanolamide.
This all sounds amazing, but what’s the issue here? Well, when it comes to practical evidence, the one study we have right now has failed to show any difference in satiety between three test breakfasts containing anywhere between 40 to 680 mg phosphatidylethanolamine, a form of OEA.
The other studies are confounded with green tea but, hey, they showed some benefits by improving satiety and reducing binge eating, but may only work for four weeks before the body adapts to the effects.
Ultimately, OEA is in a position where it could be a very important supplement to improve satiety when taken with meals, but there needs to be more evidence on the topic before conclusions are made. It’s a very promising supplement, however.
When it comes to the worst appetite suppressants, I wanted to look at things that are either commonly recommended despite not working or things that work but have side effects so bad they aren’t worth it.
There are a lot of things out there that are claimed to reduce appetite, but usually only as “just another term” thrown into a long list of random claims. The following are things where appetite suppression is one of the major claims.
The king of the “sunk cost fallacy,” Garcinia cambogia, or simply “garcinia” is the supplement that continues to be sold because it continues to be bought. I’ve written about it here, but will summarize the gist of the issue.
Based on animal evidence, garcinia looks positively amazing. We’re talking upwards of 25% reductions in food intake and subsequent fat loss due to eating less food plus an additional mechanism where, even if the calories you ate wanted to become fat, it would be more difficult to do so.
Garcinia, however, was many people’s first adventure into “interspecies differences” when it comes to science and how something can work very differently in rodents (rats and mice) versus humans. Human studies have just failed to replicate these amazing effects.
It’s hardly a supplement worthy of being the most commonly sold fat burner.
Garcinia cambogia has failed to replicate it’s most wonderful rodent evidence, and the human studies are generally disappointing and suggest that more often than not garcinia won’t work well.
While not overly common nowadays, Hoodia gordonii had a time where it was used as a dietary supplement for the purpose of appetite suppression.
Similar to Caralluma fimbriata in the previous section, it has a history of being a herb (in this case, a cactus) that was eaten by local populations for the purpose of making periods of starvation and thirst more tolerable.
Unfortunately, the promise stops there, as hoodia then failed to reduce appetite and also increased liver enzymes and blood pressure, suggesting toxicity.
It’s still a bit too early to say that it’s completely worthless, since 5-HTP itself could potentially have side-effects if too much is used for too long, and hoodia has later been investigated in both animal studies and isolated tissues to have beta-adrenergic stimulating properties (similar to ephedrine) and potential antidepressant effects.
Though at the end of the day we still have no human evidence that it works and some that shows it might hurt.
Hoodia gordonii fell flat on its face when it was first introduced because it didn’t reduce appetite and increased the risk of damage to the liver and circulatory system. While it’s theoretically possible it could redeem itself in the future, we need to wait on more evidence to find out.
Capsaicin (Cayenne Pepper Extract)
Capsaicin is the most well-known component of hot peppers. It is, by itself, sometimes referred to as “hot pepper extract” and is one of many molecules responsible for why hot chicken wings make us sweat bullets.
Here’s the thing though, capsaicin actually does reduce appetite by increasing satiety. So why is it in the “worst appetite suppressant” list?
Well, it’s because the reduction in food intake from this little spicy boi is simply because it pisses off the stomach. People don’t want to eat when their stomach is upset and this is capsaicins mechanism of action. If capsaicin doesn’t upset your stomach, it doesn’t reduce food intake.
There’s something called the “therapeutic index” when it comes to pharmaceuticals (and by extension we can apply this to supplements) that’s a measure of the dose that causes benefits against the dose that causes harm or toxicity. The bigger the index, the wider the distance, the safer and more prudent the recommendation.
But unlike stimulants where the harm comes at a dose higher than the benefit, the harm of capsaicin is very close to the benefit. Hell, the harm is the benefit.
Granted it’s just an upset tummy, something that you can just ignore, but if that’s how you reduce food intake why not just do something else? Have a nice carbonated beverage, that can mildly irritate your stomach and reduce appetite.
Capsaicin can increase satiety, but does so by causing stomach distress. The benefit and harm in this situation are the exact same thing and it’s unreasonable to assume good appetite suppression without concomitant stomach distress.
Whether or not an appetite suppressant is safe depends on what “style” of appetite suppressant it is but as a general overview:
- Appetite suppressants that work via protein and fiber are pretty damn safe and effective.
- Appetite suppressants that work via neurotransmitters can have side-effects at even slightly elevated doses.
- Appetite suppressants that are herbal are mostly unknown at this point in time and it’s best to assume side-effects at elevated doses.
A fair amount of people assume appetite suppressants are dangerous. Pharmaceutical appetite suppressants tend to take the neurological route, and some of them caused harm, which muddied the reputation of all appetite suppressants.
At the very least, if you take a scoop of whey protein with some metamucil (a kind of fiber), there’s no risk.
Appetite, hunger, and satiety are the trifecta of ruined diets.
You can try to ignore them while dieting, and some people can successfully, but many other people fall to their hubris in a glorious pile of doughnuts and cake.
True, long-term, weight loss comes from not only consciously choosing healthier foods each day but also by respecting the fact that your body will always win out at the end and you need to appease it.
Every now and then, you may need a supplement to help you along the way.
But at the very least, I hope this article gave you all yet another reason to keep on having some whey protein.
And if you’re all hot and bothered to try some, I recommend you give Whey+ a shot.
Once you have that nailed down, you can start playing around with 5-HTP and stimulants. If you go in that direction, I recommend you try Pulse for caffeine, Forge for yohimbine, and Phoenix for 5-HTP (along with eight other ingredients proven to aid fat loss).