Hunger is the bane of any health goal. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or just eat healthier, an insatiable appetite is bound to throw you off track. While you may be able to ignore the rumbling in your stomach for a little while, you can only white knuckle it for so long.
If you don’t figure out a way to get your appetite under control, those food cravings can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Unlike weight loss pills, which usually contain caffeine or only reduce water weight, a natural appetite suppressant helps control your cravings by balancing the hormones involved in hunger.
The best way to kick hunger to the curb for good is to incorporate natural appetite suppressants, such as a keto diet, high-fiber foods, and powerful spices into your lifestyle.
Why Eating Fewer Calories Doesn’t Work
The weight loss advice to eat drastically fewer calories seems to persist even though it doesn’t work well for the long-term.
Cutting calories works for short-term weight loss, but people who rely on calorie restriction tend to have a hard time keeping weight off over time. They also seem to be constantly snacking or waiting for their next meal. That’s because eating fewer calories doesn’t suppress your appetite.
Instead, it can contribute to increased hunger by negatively affecting your hormones.
According to one study, calorie-restricted dieting can decrease levels of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1). This hormone controls hunger and influences satiety. When levels are high, it suppresses appetite. When levels are low, it leads to increased hunger[*].
The same study also points out that low-calorie diets reduce levels of leptin, a hormone that’s nicknamed the satiety hormone. Leptin sends signals to your brain that you’re full. When levels are low, you feel hungry all the time.
Another study shows that as you restrict calories and leptin levels fall, it causes an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin[*].
Ghrelin does the exact opposite of leptin. When levels are high, you feel hungry all the time. On the other hand, low levels of ghrelin act as an effective appetite suppressant.
If you’re not sure how many calories you should be eating, check out our keto calculator.
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Natural Appetite Suppressant Options
Instead of focusing on calorie intake and weight loss, the key to appetite control is figuring out a way to balance your blood sugar and insulin levels, while simultaneously balancing ghrelin and leptin, and other hormones, like GLP-1 and peptide YY.
It sounds complicated, but there are some simple, natural ways you can achieve this. Never mind weight loss pills, synthetic weight loss supplements, and fat burners. Here’s how to reach your goals with a natural appetite suppressant.
#1. Follow a Keto Diet
A keto diet is arguably the best appetite suppressant out there. Unlike eating fewer calories and other weight loss diets, keto helps balance your hormones, so you feel satisfied.
Research shows that a keto diet can increase leptin and GLP-1 while decreasing ghrelin[*][*][*]. These results are seen in study participants with significant weight and fat loss. When it comes to appetite hormones and appetite control, this is exactly the combination you want.
Limiting carbohydrates and focusing on eating healthy fats also helps balance your blood sugar levels, which can lead to reduced cravings.
According to one report, low blood sugar not only increases your cravings, it specifically makes you want to eat unhealthy, high-carbohydrate foods[*]. When you keep your blood sugar levels balanced through a well-designed keto diet, you prevent the crashes that increase your hunger.
In addition to helping with appetite suppression, a keto diet has other health benefits, including increased energy and less body fat, so it’s a win-win.
#2. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber is hailed as one of the healthiest nutrients out there — and there’s a good reason for that. It’s connected to better heart health, weight loss, regular digestion, and, of course, feelings of satiety.
One of the reasons fiber helps keep you full is because it slows down digestion, which means food stays in your stomach longer. This naturally suppresses appetite, but there’s more to it than that.
One animal study found that when combined with a high-fat (read: keto) diet, certain fermentable fibers can help suppress appetite by regulating some of the areas in the brain that control hunger. According to researchers, these dietary fibers may trigger the release of two hormones: peptide YY (PYY) and GLP-1[*].
Some research shows that peptide YY helps reduce appetite and increase satiety[*], while GLP-1 helps delay the emptying of your stomach, so that you feel fuller for longer[*].
These fibers also act as a natural appetite suppressant indirectly. When they reach your large intestine, bacteria start to break them down, producing a short-chain fatty acid (or SCFA) called acetate as a byproduct. Acetate then travels to your brain, where it signals to the hypothalamus that you’re full[*].
While some high-fiber foods, like beans, lentils, whole grains, and oats, are off-limits on a keto diet, you can easily meet your fiber needs by eating low-carb veggies and fiber-rich seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
Avocados are also an excellent source of fiber. A single avocado contains 9.1 grams of fiber and only 2.5 grams of net carbs[*].
#3. Add Some Extra Spices
You might only think of spices as a way to season your food, but they do more than add flavor. Adding certain spices to your food is an easy, effective, and inexpensive way to suppress your appetite naturally.
- Cayenne pepper: Capsaicin is the primary compound in cayenne pepper. It’s responsible for cayenne’s signature heat, but it also helps reduce appetite and the desire to eat in between meals[*]. Research also shows that cayenne pepper may help increase the number of calories you burn and boost metabolism[*].
- Turmeric: Turmeric is often touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it might also act as a natural appetite suppressant. According to research, the main compound in turmeric, called curcumin, may help reduce ghrelin[*] and reduce appetite. However, it’s important to note that much of the research was done in animal models.
- Cinnamon: Research has linked the main compound in cinnamon, called cinnamaldehyde (CIN), to lower insulin levels and increased GLP-1[*], a hormone combination that can help naturally suppress appetite. One study also shows that, like fiber, CIN can slow the rate of digestion, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and improve insulin sensitivity[*].
#4. Consider Dietary Supplements
If changing your diet doesn’t do the trick, there are some natural dietary supplements that may help. These aren’t meant to replace other natural appetite suppressants, but taking some targeted supplements in addition to making nutritional changes can be more effective.
- Green tea extract: The appetite suppression properties of green tea are attributed to its caffeine and catechin content. According to research, these two compounds can help increase feelings of fullness and satiety[*]. Keep in mind that green tea extract contains these compounds in much higher doses than a cup of brewed green tea.
- Garcinia Cambogia: Garcinia Cambogia is a natural, plant-based supplement with many active ingredients. However, the main focus is on hydroxycitric acid, or HCA. Some research shows that HCA helps reduce appetite while also increasing the amount of calories you burn — a combination that can lead to weight loss. HCA may also boost serotonin levels, which also helps decrease appetite[*].
- Saffron extract: Although the research is limited, some studies show that saffron extract may help reduce appetite, while also decreasing body fat, body mass index, and overall waist circumference[*][*].
And the good news? Unlike prescription and over-the-counter diet pills, these natural appetite suppressants don’t have any serious known side effects.
The Bottom Line on Using a Natural Appetite Suppressant
Unlike calorie restriction, which leaves you feeling hungry and always looking for your next meal, following a keto diet can help balance your hormones responsible for hunger. High-fiber foods, spices like turmeric and cayenne pepper, and natural dietary supplements, like green tea extract, also act as natural appetite suppressants.
For more in-depth information on ketosis, learn how being fat-adapted not only subdues your hunger, but provides plenty of other health benefits too.
Read next: Do Calories Matter on Keto?