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9 Natural Appetite Suppressants That Really Work

Putting the brakes on hunger naturally can help prevent overeating and the weight gain that comes with it. These expert-approved natural appetite suppressants could help us finally lose those last 10 pounds.

Chili-peppersTibor Duris /Shutterstock

Spice it up

An appetite for spicy food may say certain things about your personality—but more importantly, spicy foods may act as natural appetite suppressants. The active ingredient in many spicy foods is capsaicin, which is found in hot peppers. Cayenne peppers have other health benefits too. As a bonus, “adding a few dashes of the spicy stuff will slow down your eating,” which could lead to your eating less overall, says New York City-based nutritionist Joy L. Bauer, RD, CDN, the founder of Nourish Snacks, the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show, and author of several books including From Junk Food to Joy Food.

MintOxana Denezhkina /Shutterstock

Sniff peppermint

A whiff of peppermint may keep hunger at bay. “A study found that when participants smelled peppermint every two hours for five days, they consumed nearly 1,800 fewer total calories that week and rated their hunger level significantly lower than participants not exposed to peppermint,” Bauer says. She suggests lighting a peppermint candle, chewing on peppermint gum, or sipping on peppermint tea to get the appetite-suppressing benefits.

Chia-seedsAS Food studio /Shutterstock

Add chia seeds as a topping

Chia seeds are chock-full of fiber, and can therefore be a great appetite suppressant, Bauer says. “Sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal or yogurt, or toss them into smoothies and pancake batter,” she suggests. “They’ll swell in your stomach—up to nine times their size—to keep you feeling full for hours.” Healthful chia seeds are largely soluble fiber, which has been associated with reduced intake and appetite. Other smart sources of soluble fiber include legumes, oats, asparagus, and flaxseed.

ApplesFrench cat /Shutterstock

Eat an apple a day

Think you know everything about apples and health? Think again. It turns out that eating an apple a day may do more than keep the doctor away; an apple may serve as a natural appetite suppressant. “The combination of pectin, soluble fiber, high water content, and lots of chewing make apples an excellent appetite-taming food,” Bauer says. Plus, these appetite suppressants are portable and portion-controlled, making them an all-around home run, she says.

WaterAfrica Studio /Shutterstock

Drink up

Drinking two glasses of water before each meal helps to tame your appetite, says Bauer. “If water bores you, jazz it up by adding slices of citrus or cucumbers—or a shot of fruit juice,” she suggests. Bonus: “If you swap in seltzer water, the bubbles create an even greater sensation of fullness.” Another way to hydrate is to crunch on water-rich veggies—lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, zucchini, and celery. “With more than 95 percent water, these five filler-uppers will keep your appetite in check.”

Breathingfizkes /Shutterstock

Breathe more

When you are stressed, your body kicks up production of the hormone cortisol. “High levels of cortisol can lead to an accumulation of abdominal fat as well as other chronic health problems,” says New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nutritious Life. Cortisol also causes the body to form a resistance to leptin—a hormone that sends the signal to the brain that you are full, she says. “The more stressed you are, the more cortisol you secrete, and the less able you are to tell when you are full.” There’s more to it too, she says. “During times of stress, we tend to crave high sugar, high carbohydrate foods that produce serotonin and make us feel calm and in control. So, reducing stress will help reduce these cravings.” She suggests carving out a few minutes to practice deep breathing each day. “Close your eyes, clear your mind, and breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth,” she says.

Apple-cider-vinegarGayvoronskaya Yana /Shutterstock

Do a shot

Of vinegar or apple cider vinegar, that is. It may serve as an appetite suppressant, although the studies are mixed. One study suggests that it is apple cider vinegar’s unpleasant taste that causes our appetite to cease fire. Participants who drank vinegar with breakfast ate less than their counterparts who didn’t. The reason? They were nauseated. Decide for yourself whether appetite suppressants like that are worth it.

Young african american man doing squat exercise at group fitness training, sporty black guy focused on self-improvement working out with diverse active people in gym studio during routine sessionfizkes/Shutterstock

Exercise before dinner

While a full day of physical labor might leave you famished, a shorter intense workout might have the opposite effect. One analysis of 20 studies found that exercise suppressed the “hunger hormone” acylated ghrelin while boosting levels of hormones that act as appetite suppressants. Wrap up your gym session right before a meal so that you don’t tempt yourself into eating so much that you negate your workout.

Close up portrait of a happy young woman eating pizza at restaurantmimagephotography/Shutterstock

Pay attention to your food

Mindfulness can have a slew of benefits, from pain management to stress reduction, and you can add appetite suppression to the list. Mindful eating techniques could help control emotional eating and binge eating, according to a 2014 review of studies. During every bite, take note of the food’s taste, texture, and smell while also paying attention to your body’s fullness cues. You just might find you don’t need a second helping after all. Don’t miss these other 50 easy ways to lose weight naturally.

Sources
  • Joy L. Bauer, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nourish Snacks, the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show, and author of several books including From Junk Food to Joy Foodin New York City.
  • Appetite: "Effects of peppermint scent on appetite control and caloric intake."
  • Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Nutritious Life, in New York City.
  • International Journal of Obesity: "Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake."
  • Sports Medicine: "Acute Exercise and Hormones Related to Appetite Regulation: A Meta-Analysis."
  • Obesity Reviews: "Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Obesity-Related Eating Behaviors: A Literature Review."
Medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, on October 13, 2019

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in WebMD, HealthDay, and other consumer health portals. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (for a cover story she wrote in Plastic Surgery Practice magazine); and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. She was part of the writing team awarded a 2008 Sigma Delta Chi award for her part in a WebMD series on autism. Her first foray into health reporting was with the Medical Tribune News Service, where her articles appeared regularly in such newspapers as the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, and Los Angeles Daily News. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu.