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Enjoying food is one of life’s pleasures — snacks, we ❤️ you — but if you have a goal of eating more healthfully, losing weight, or simply making it through an afternoon of meetings without a growling stomach, you may want to consider foods and beverages that help control your appetite.
There are plenty of options — including foods, teas, and supplements — to help keep you satiated. You might already have some of them in your kitchen (oh, hey, cinnamon!), and you can grab the others on your next trip to the store.
Before we dive in, though, some ground rules:
- It’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before making major changes to your diet, especially if you have any health conditions that could be affected by the changes.
- Be wary of any appetite suppressant that claims to be a quick fix, and take a thorough inventory of any potential side effects.
- If you decide a supplement or herb is right for you, get it from a reputable brand — not at your local gas station.
You probably already know drinking water is good for you — and it’s definitely better than drinking sugary sodas or fruit juices!
But let’s talk about just how good it is: Water has zero calories, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend that it be your primary beverage.
Water also fills you up, and this feeling of fullness can help you eat less. In fact, a study published in 2016 looked at the link between dehydration and obesity and found that adults who were not adequately hydrated had higher body mass indexes (BMIs).
Sometimes you might feel hungry when your body is actually thirsty, and water can tame the urge to snack. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting 30 minutes. If you’re feeling hunger, it won’t go away. But if you’re feeling thirst, that water should hit the spot.
To be clear, water is not a substitute for a meal or snack. Your body still needs nutrients from a balanced diet.
Here’s some great news for anyone with a sweet tooth: Dark chocolate can help you eat less, compared with milk chocolate.
A small 2011 study compared hunger levels in 16 healthy men before and after they ate either milk or dark chocolate. Those who ate dark chocolate felt more satisfied, had less desire to eat more sweets, and ate less overall than those who ate milk chocolate.
The FDA has no standard for the use of the label “dark chocolate,” but generally dark chocolates don’t contain milk solids and have higher cacao percentages than milk chocolate. The study mentioned above used chocolate with 70 percent cacao.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat without excess calories, reach for chocolate with a high cacao percentage, which will typically contain less cane sugar.
Consider this another good reason to savor a piece of dark chocolate after a meal!
If you’re hoping to cut back on sugar cravings, you may want to check out gymnema. The plant Gymnema sylvstre is native to India, Australia, and parts of Africa. Its Hindi name, “gurmar,” means “destroyer of sugar,” which pretty much sums up how it affects appetite.
Its most active component, gurmarin, prevents you from tasting sweet and bitter foods, which makes it a possible ally against sugar cravings.
Gymnema may also help your body regulate fat and carb metabolism. A 2014 review of studies found that a compound in gymnema called gymnemic acid has anti-diabetic properties and has the ability to decrease body weight and inhibit glucose absorption.
Gymnema is available as a capsule, tea, and powder. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about dosages before taking any herbal supplements.
5-HTP may sound like a droid from “Star Wars,” but it’s actually an amino acid your body makes. Its full name is 5-hydroxytryptophan, and it’s a precursor of the chemical serotonin, which is involved in regulating your moods.
While further study is needed on serotonin and satiety, some research suggests that boosting serotonin levels can help suppress appetite.
When it comes to 5-HTP in particular, a small 1998 study of 20 people found that those who took 750 milligrams of 5-HTP daily ate less carbohydrate and fat and lost weight compared to those who didn’t take the supplement.
5-HTP is found in the seeds of the medicinal West African plant Griffonia simplicifolia Baill. and can be taken in supplement form.
You may have seen fenugreek listed in recipes. In seed or leaf form, the herb is often used in Indian cooking. It’s also used as an herbal supplement, especially in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical system. The dried, ground seeds are rich in fiber (and smell like maple syrup).
Fenugreek may help suppress appetite. A small 2009 study found that the herb delayed stomach emptying and the absorption of carbohydrates and fat. This, in turn, decreased people’s appetites and helped control their blood sugar levels.
Study participants who consumed 8 grams of fiber from fenugreek ate less and felt full longer than those who consumed half as much fenugreek fiber or none at all.
Maybe the best news of all is that fenugreek also has few or no known side effects.
Green tea already has a reputation for being “the healthiest beverage on the planet” due to its antioxidants. But did you know green tea extract — a concentrated form of the beverage — may boost metabolism, help with weight loss, and burn fat?
Green tea extract can do all this thanks to its caffeine and catechins (specifically epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG). Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that may help with fat burning and calorie burn, and EGCG may do the same.
When combined with other ingredients, including soluble fibers, green tea extract may decrease appetite.
It’s best to keep your intake of EGCG under 338 milligrams per day when taking it in solid form or under 704 milligrams when drinking in it green tea. EGCG doses of 800 milligrams or more may harm your liver.
Maybe it’s time to introduce more cactus into your diet.
Caralluma fimbriata is a burgundy-colored cactus native to India that can reduce hunger and boost endurance. Active compounds in this plant boost circulation of serotonin in your brain, which may help reduce carbohydrate intake and suppress your appetite.
In a small 2013 study, participants who took 1,000 milligrams of Caralluma fimbriata per day for 3 months (in addition to following a specific diet and exercise plan) lost more weight and waist circumference than those who didn’t take the supplement.
More research is needed to determine if Caralluma fimbriata has any adverse effects, but existing studies suggest there aren’t any, and the FDA considers it Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). The recommended dosage is 500 milligrams twice a day.
Increasing your fiber intake is good for digestive health, metabolism, and weight maintenance.
Glucomannan is a type of water-soluble dietary fiber found in konjac, a root grown throughout Asia. Konjac (also known as elephant yam) is the main ingredient in low calorie shirataki noodles, which are translucent noodles often used in Japanese cuisine.
Glucomannan absorbs water and makes its way to your colon largely undigested. By bulking up in your GI tract, glucomannan delays emptying of the stomach.
This could, in theory, help you eat less and lose weight, but more recent research has not found a significant link between glucomannan and weight loss or hunger and fullness.
In a 2005 study, taking glucomannan supplements as part of a reduced-calorie diet led to significant weight loss compared with a placebo. Doses of 2 to 4 grams were found to be well-tolerated, but start with 1 gram and work your way up.*
*Pro tip: Take this supplement with a glass or two of water, because glucomannan poses a choking hazard if it expands before it reaches your stomach.
Not all trans fats are bad for you! Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a natural trans fat found in meat and dairy. This fatty acid is commonly used as a weight loss supplement. It’s been found to boost fat burning, block fat absorption, and stimulate fat breakdown.
In a small 2003 study, participants who took 3.6 grams of CLA daily for 13 weeks while following a low calorie diet felt less hungry than those who took a placebo while following the same diet. But the CLA group didn’t report eating any less at breakfast.
Taking CLA, particularly in large doses, has some potential side effects, such as digestive issues, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress. But it’s generally considered safe in doses of 3 to 6 grams per day.
Ginger is a great way to add flavor to both sweet and savory dishes, including cookies, curries, and soups. The zesty rhizome, whose roots grow underground, is also popular in tea form.
Ginger is known to stimulate the digestive system and help ease nausea. (Who else flies with a bag of Gin-Gins candy in their carry-on?) But did you know ginger could also help regulate your appetite?
One small 2012 study found that men who consumed ginger at breakfast felt more full and had less appetite 3 hours later than those who had not consumed it. That study used 2 grams of dried ginger powder dissolved in hot water as a tea.
Ginger is considered safe with no known side effects as a tea, capsule, or tincture or in whole food form.
Garcinia cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, is a tropical fruit from India and Southeast Asia. The rind is used to flavor curries and also contains hydroxycitric acid, which has been studied for its effectiveness on weight loss and appetite.
The results have been mixed: Some studies found that it reduced appetite, blocked production of fat, and lowered body weight, while others deemed it ineffective. So, it might work for some people but not others.
Side effects like headaches, rashes, and stomach discomfort have been reported, but Garcinia cambogia is believed to be safe in doses of up to 2,800 milligrams per day.
Here’s another reason to love your morning coffee: Thanks to the caffeine it contains, coffee can help with weight loss and appetite control.
Research shows drinking coffee before a meal can help with stomach emptying, influence hormones that control appetite, and reduce feelings of hunger. Drinking a moderate amount of coffee may also help you eat less throughout the day and at your next meal.
The recommended “dose” for weight loss is about 2 cups of coffee, or about 200 milligrams of caffeine. Keep in mind that different coffee drinks have varying amounts of caffeine.
Caffeine also has many side effects, including the potential for restlessness, anxiety, heart palpitations, and disrupted sleep.
Yerba mate is a plant native to South America that contains caffeine. It’s most often consumed as a tea made from the leaves and stems of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. The herb is known for boosting metabolism and aiding weight loss.
In one small study, women who took 2 grams of yerba mate before cycling for a half-hour had less of an appetite and increased metabolism, focus, and energy levels.
Yerba mate is safe in recommended doses of up to 3 cups of tea or 1 to 1.5 grams of powder daily.
However, some compounds in yerba mate have been found to have monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) activity. If you’re taking MOAI medications, talk to your healthcare provider before trying it.
Like your food spicy? Well, enjoying your food with a kick could help your appetite and metabolism.
Capsaicin, the active component in cayenne pepper, can rev up your metabolism and tame your appetite. Capsaicin is believed to decrease production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
In a small 2005 study, some participants took 0.9 grams of red pepper (0.25 percent capsaicin) in capsule form or drank it in tomato juice before each meal, and others took a placebo.
Those taking the capsaicin capsules ate 10 percent less than those who took a placebo, and those who drank the spicy tomato juice ate 16 percent less. Both groups who took capsaicin felt fuller and ate less.
You can simply add hot pepper to your food to reap the benefits or take it as a supplement. Cayenne does come with some side effects, including irritation if it touches your skin, and can act as a natural blood thinner.
Cinnamon is a beloved spice for baking, but it may also help control appetite.
In a 2007 study, adding 6 grams (about 1 1/4 teaspoons) of cinnamon to rice pudding was found to slow down stomach emptying after a meal. In theory, this may help keep you feeling full longer.
Cinnamon may also help regulate blood sugar (maybe even preventing sugar cravings) and boost satiety.