From supplements to magical diets, the weight loss industry is filled with products and programs that promise to help you reach your goal weight easily and quickly. Beware of these promises, though, because the truth is that for the most part, losing weight involves burning more calories than you take in (also called a calorie deficit) through a combination of healthy eating and physical activity.
So while there isn’t any secret “fix” or diet pill that will help you lose weight effectively or safely, you can add natural appetite suppressants to your meals to help you feel less hungry, which can help you consume less calories at mealtime.
Here are 30 natural appetite suppressants to know about.
Natural appetite suppressants
“One of the best ways to feel full longer, and therefore decrease your appetite is to fill up on fiber. And one of the most nutritious sources of fiber is raw vegetables,” says Serena Poon, a certified nutritionist and celebrity chef in Los Angeles. “I love snacking on carrots, colorful bell peppers or sugar snap peas which supply a crunchy, satisfying mouthful,” Poon says.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to help your body stay feeling satisfied. “Your body is composed of up to 60% water and hydration is crucial to keep it running optimally,” says Poon. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day also helps make you feel full and monitor your hunger signals.
There’s a reason why chia seeds are touted as a superfood. These tiny seeds pack a powerful punch of fiber, protein, antioxidants, healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), and are rich in vitamins and minerals. “Chia seeds have been found to be effective at managing hunger, most likely due to their fiber content,” explains Poon. “One of my favorite ways to prepare chia seeds is in a satisfying pudding with coconut milk and spices,”
This Indian spice can be found in curry dishes. “It is often used as a seed or ground up into a powder form and has a slightly bitter taste,” explains Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of This Is Your Brain on Food. Dr. Naidoo highlights this 2010 study, which showed that fenugreek extract decreased dietary fat consumption in 39 healthy, overweight men. You can snack on some fenugreek seeds on an empty stomach, add the spice to a homemade sauce, or season side dishes with a sprinkle of it.
This, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, is the perfect healthy snack because it is low in calories and high in water content. “If you are someone who likes to constantly have something in your mouth, this is perfect because you will get added fiber to your diet and increase your hydration,” he explains, noting that research shows that the more you chew during the day, the more you feel full.
These popular snacking nuts are filled with protein, healthy fats, and fiber, which helps you feel full. “Try eating one or two handfuls of almonds every morning. If you want to switch it up try using almond butter as a dip for your celery,” says Dr. Oz.
Oatmeal is a good source of fiber. And per Dr. Oz, high-fiber foods can help slow the digestion of food in the intestine, which can help to keep blood sugars from rising rapidly. “One serving of a breakfast cereal with oatmeal or oat bran provides 3 to 4 grams of fiber,” he explains. “Studies suggest that individuals who eat oatmeal actually tend to be healthier and have a lower body weight compared to those who don’t eat oatmeal,” Dr. Oz adds.
“It has long been documented that consuming enough protein is helpful when it comes to weight loss,” explains Aimee Plauche, a licensed dietitian nutrition and registered dietitian with Nutritional Wellness Consulting. One study concludes “greater satiety, weight loss, fat mass loss, and/or the preservation of lean mass are often observed with increased protein consumption.” Plauche says protein powder can be a great way to add some extra protein to your day. You can also reach for a handful of nuts, have some hard-boiled eggs for a snack, or dip some apple slices in a spoonful of peanut butter.
“Eating spicy foods can cause you to slow down while eating, which tends to make people consume less overall,” says Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist and founder of Ancient Nutrition. “It can also dull your taste buds a bit, making you crave less, and may even increase the amount of calories your body uses while digesting the food,” he says. Dr. Axe notes that research suggests that adding about one half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a meal can help boost your metabolism and keep hunger in check due to the active compound called capsaicin, but other spicy foods may have similar effects.
According to Dr. Axe, chicory root is a high-fiber food that is rich in inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that the body cannot fully break down and digest. “It takes up room in your stomach and seems to help slow down stomach emptying which can suppress your appetite,” he explains.
“Soluble fiber absorbs water in the gut and delays stomach emptying,” explains MyNetDiary’s registered dietitian, Brenda Braslow. Research, she says, does not show strong evidence for high-dose soluble fiber supplements however, food sources of soluble fiber can increase fullness after a meal. For example, a study review showed oats had a positive effect on satiety after meals. “Other excellent sources of soluble fiber include barley, beans, lentils, apples, kiwi, blackberries, figs, nuts, and seeds,” says Braslow, who says to include food sources of soluble fiber in meals to help you feel full.
Consuming digestive bitters before a meal not only sets you up for optimal digestion, but they may help you control overeating, too. “Digestive bitters, or a combination of bitter-tasting herbs (such as artichoke leaf or gentian root), essentially ‘wake up’ the digestive system by stimulating the production of stomach acid and bile,” explains Sheri Vettel, a registered dietitian at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She adds that the bitter taste may also stimulate the production of hormones, such as GLP-1, that control appetite and satiety.
These work much like digestive bitters do. “If you don’t have digestive bitters on hand, consider snacking on bitter greens, such as turnip greens or kale, ahead of a meal,” Vettel says.
MCT oil is often extracted from coconuts and is widely available in supplement form, with many individuals adding it to their morning smoothies or coffee. Consumption of MCT oil has been found to lower food intake at mealtime, likely through the release of leptin and peptide YY, two hormones known for boosting satiety. It’s worth noting that this affect appears to work best when MCT oil is consumed directly ahead of mealtime, as one study found no reduction in food intake 3-hours post-MCT oil supplementation.
Shirataki noodles come from the Konjac plant native to Asia. “They are rich in a type of soluble fiber known as glucomannan, which slows stomach emptying keeping you feeling satiated much longer after meals,” says Vettel, adding that shirataki noodles can be eaten in a variety of dishes including stir-fries, noodle bowls, and soups.
“One-half of an avocado provides a nutrient-dense food consisting of dietary fiber and vitamins, minerals and healthy fats,” says Dr. Oz. One study found that replacing carbohydrates in a high carbohydrate meal with avocado increased feelings of satiety and elevated the hormones responsible for feelings of satiety. The authors suggested that the fat and fiber combination of an avocado improved satiety in participants.
One study showed that compared to consuming 100g milk chocolate, participants who consumed 100g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) felt significantly more full and less hungry. “The authors suggested that a component in dark chocolate called stearic slows digestion, which may help you feel fuller longer,” says Dr. Oz. “The next time you crave chocolate reach for a darker chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa.”
“Ginger is very popular amongst many cultures for many properties in the digestive tract,” Dr. Oz explains. It is a great way to enhance a variety of sweet and savory dishes. He says to aim for 2-3 teaspoons of grated ginger a day. If you don’t want to add it to your dishes you can also add it to your tea. “A small study found that men who consumed ginger had less of an appetite 3 hours later compared to those who didn’t consume it,” Dr. Oz says.
Dr. Oz notes that you should aim to consume 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon if you’re looking for a natural appetite suppressant. “In addition to its positive effects on blood sugar, a small study showed that it might be able to help you delay the emptying of food from your stomach, keeping you full for a longer time,” he explains.
L-glutamine is an amino acid found in many foods, most notably animal sources, including eggs and meat. Vettel explains that it is often used in supplemental form to cut sugar cravings and decrease one’s appetite for sweet foods. “This effect is due in part to the fact that L-glutamine has been linked to reduced gastric ghrelin secretion, which can help decrease overall appetite,” she explains.
Per Vettel, garlic contains oligofructose, a type of prebiotic fiber. which can affect ghrelin, a hormone associated with increased feelings of hunger. “One study found that subjects who consumed an oligofructose supplement over 12 weeks had decreased ghrelin levels, as well as increased levels of peptide YY, a hormone which promotes satiety after eating, she shares. Garlic can easily be incorporated into a variety of homemade meals.
Caffeine, says Reyna Franco, a registered dietitian in New York City, is a natural appetite suppressant. She highlights that a review paper published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that consuming caffeine 1/2 hour to 4 hours before a meal may reduce the appetite. “The proper amount of caffeine to reduce the appetite is not clear,” says Franco. “My advice is to enjoy your coffee or tea between meals and before 3 pm otherwise, the caffeine may disturb your sleep which will then increase your appetite.” Franco says to follow the caffeinated drink with a glass of water to further full your stomach and provide additional hydration.
Swapping out your morning coffee for a cup of matcha is one way to suppress your appetite. “Matcha is a robust source of a powerful antioxidant called ECGC. EGCG is also found in green tea, but quantities in matcha are much higher,” says Poon. Research has shown that ECGC may be able to increase satiety.
According to Poon, watermelon is a delicious choice for both hydration and for feeling satisfied. “Aside from their appetite suppressing qualities, watermelon slices also supply antioxidants, electrolytes and support cardiovascular health,” she says. Poon explains that watermelon juice is a delicious treat, but you will want to stick with the whole fruit to reap the most appetite suppressing qualities.
A preparation of green tea was shown to help with weight loss in a Cochrane Systematic Review that included 14 studies. Those in the green tea group lost on average 0.2 to 3.5 kg more than those in the control group over 12 weeks. “Green tea is rich in antioxidants like EGCG so there are other great reasons to drink it,” says Naidoo. “It also offers a pick me up during an afternoon energy slump and helps focus.”
Peppermint has long been used in essential oils for stress relief, but the scent can also help curb hunger. “Research found that when people sniffed peppermint every two hours for five days, they ate 2,800 fewer calories in a week,” says Dr. Oz.
Glucomannan is a type of dietary fiber (technically a water-soluble polysaccharide) that is taken as a supplement in order to reduce hunger. “It’s derived from the konjac plant and works as an appetite suppressant by absorbing water and swelling in size, which takes up room in the stomach,” says Dr. Axe.
“Decaf coffee might increase peptide YY (PYY), a hormone that signals satiety,” explains Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and member of Persona’s Medical Advisory Board. In a study from Brooklyn College, compared to placebo, decaffeinated coffee yielded significantly lower hunger while elevating PYY. Somer explains that caffeinated coffee did not raise PYY levels, so the researchers suspect other compounds in decaf help with satiety. “Just be careful not to load your cup with cream and sugar,” she says.
Citicoline is a form of the mineral choline that is commonly used to treat cognitive dysfunction. “Research shows that citicoline has neuroprotective and neurodegenerative properties,” explains Heather Hanks MS and a nutritionist with Instapot Life. It works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain to reduce cravings, she explains. One study found that oral ingestion of 2,000 mg per day significantly reduced appetite in test subjects.
“Caralluma fimbriata is an herb that has been used by herbalists for quite some time to suppress appetite, enhance endurance and increase metabolism,” explains Dr. Michael Jay Nusbaum, a weight loss expert with Nusbaum Medical Centers. He notes that this herb has been found to increase the serotonin levels circulating in the brain and thus result in appetite suppression.