Manufacturers of appetite suppressant pills make big claims about the ability of pills to suppress appetite and promote weight loss. However, the effectiveness of these pills is not known, and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they often come with dangerous side effects.
Instead, a person can use a range of natural methods to suppress or lose their appetite in a risk-free, healthful way.
In this article, we give a list of evidence-based methods that a person can use to suppress their appetite without the need for diet pills. We also discuss which foods are the best appetite suppressants.
Natural appetite suppressants
A person can use the following ten evidence-based methods to suppress their appetite and avoid overeating:
1. Eat more protein and healthful fats
Eating foods rich in protein or fat can reduce hunger cravings and suppress appetite.
A person can replace some sources of carbohydrate with proteins and healthful fats to help keep their appetite under control.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the following high-protein foods:
- lean meats
- beans and peas
- soy products
- Greek yogurt
The guidelines also recommend that a person gets their healthful fats from natural sources such as nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
2. Drink water before every meal
Drinking a large glass of water directly before eating has been found to make a person feel fuller, more satisfied, and less hungry after the meal.
Another study, which looked at appetite in 50 overweight females, showed that drinking 1.5 liters of water a day for 8 weeks caused a reduction in appetite and weight, and also led to greater fat loss.
A soup starter may also quench the appetite. Research from 2007 showed that people reported feeling fuller immediately after the meal if they had a liquid starter.
3. Eat more high-fiber foods
Fiber does not break down like other foods, so it stays in the body for longer. This slows down digestion and keeps people feeling full throughout the day.
On the other hand, another review found that introducing extra fiber into the diet was effective in less than half of the studies they looked at.
More research is needed to identify which sources of fiber are the most effective for suppressing appetite.
Healthful high-fiber foods include:
- whole grains
- beans and pulses
- apples and avocados
- chia seeds
4. Exercise before a meal
Exercise is another healthy and effective appetite suppressant.
A review based on 20 different studies found that appetite hormones are suppressed immediately after exercise, especially high-intensity workouts.
They found lower levels of ghrelin in the body, a hormone that makes us hungry, and higher levels of "fullness hormones" such as PPY and GLP-1.
5. Drink Yerba Maté tea
Research shows that a tea called Yerba Maté, which comes from the Ilex paraguariensis plant, can reduce appetite and improve mood when combined with high-intensity exercise.
6. Switch to dark chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to suppresses appetite compared to milk chocolate. One study showed that people ate less during their next meal after snacking on dark instead of milk chocolate.
7. Eat some ginger
Consuming a small amount of ginger powder has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fullness, possibly because of its stimulating effect on the digestive system. This was a small-scale study, so more research is needed to confirm this effect.
8. Eat bulky, low-calorie foods
Reducing general food intake while dieting can leave people with a ravenous appetite. This can cause a relapse into binge eating.
However, dieting does not have to mean going hungry. Some foods are high in nutrients and energy, but low in calories. These include vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains.
Eating a large volume of these foods will stop the stomach from growling and still allow a person to burn more calories than they consume.
9. Stress less
Comfort eating due to stress, anger, or sadness is different from physical hunger.
Research has linked stress with an increased desire to eat, binge eating, and eating non-nutritious food.
Mindfulness practices and mindful eating may reduce stress-related binge eating and comfort eating, according to one review. Regular sleep, social contact, and time spent relaxing can also help tackle stress.
10. Mindful eating
The brain is a major player in deciding what and when a person eats. If a person pays attention to the food they are eating instead of watching TV during a meal, they may consume less.
Research published in the journal Appetite found that eating a huge meal in the dark led people to consume 36 percent more. Paying attention to food during meals can help a person reduce overeating.
Foods that minimize appetite
Certain foods are better for suppressing appetite than others, including:
Switching from sugar to honey may help suppress appetite.
- Protein-rich foods and healthful fats. These include lean meats, avocado, beans, nuts, and cheese.
- High-fiber foods. Fiber-rich foods keep a person feeling fuller for longer. Good examples are whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
- Pulses, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas, can directly increase feelings of fullness and may also reduce food intake later, according to a 2017 review.
- Eggs are high in protein and fat and may promote feelings of fullness and reduce hunger through the day.
- Cayenne pepper may reduce appetite in people who are not used to spicy foods.
- Honey may suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, making people feel fuller for longer. People should try switching from sugar to honey.
Restricting food consumption too much can lead to a relapse of overeating. Instead, eating a good amount of the right foods can reduce hunger and food cravings throughout the day.
A person can suppress their appetite by including more protein, fat, and fiber in their meals. Stocking up on vegetables and pulses can make a person feel fuller for longer.
It might also help to try different spices, such as ginger and cayenne pepper, and drink tea to beat unwanted food cravings.