You’ve made it through the annual indulgence ritual that began with leftover Halloween candy, continued through heavy holiday meals, and wrapped up with a New Year’s Eve bash. At this point, you’re tipping the scale in a direction you really don’t like.
Although a renewed focus on healthful eating is a step in the right direction, there are also several natural supplements to help you control your appetite. Many people, however, remain skeptical of products’ weight loss claims because of all the diet hype, especially in January when quick-fix diet plans abound.
It’s true: The following ingredients and products won’t magically melt the fat off your belly and hips, but they can temper food cravings, helping to support weight loss. They’re not stimulants, which means they’re safe when used according to directions. Many of them work by stabilizing blood sugar levels—it’s the ups and downs in blood sugar that trigger hunger. Some, such as fiber-containing supplements, also reduce hunger by increasing a sense of satiety and slowing the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine.
“By far, the hardest part of dieting is dealing with hunger. Eating more naturally fatty foods, such as avocados, nuts and butter, helps stabilize sugar levels and prevent hunger pangs,” says Michael Aziz, MD, of New York City and the author of the best-selling book, The Perfect 10 Diet (Cumberland, 2001). “Plus, add one of the supplements proven to shut down hunger.”
These ingredients have been shown to suppress appetite in some people:
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
ACV gained traction as an appetite suppressant and weight loss aid in the 1970s. And it’s still relatively popular. Like other types of vinegar, it contains about 5 percent acetic acid—the active ingredient—and the science clearly shows that vinegar lowers and stabilizes blood sugar levels. With more stable blood sugar, you’re less likely to experience hunger jags, according to studies conducted at Arizona State University and Sweden’s Lund University. Japanese researchers have reported that ACV inhibits several carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, including amylase, sucrase, maltase and lactase. All of these factors can contribute to less hunger and subsequent weight loss. Plus, ACV may safely be combined with other supplements.
Dose: Follow label directions for use.
Garcinia is rich in hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and both the fruit extract and HCA have been found to suppress appetite and blunt food intake, according to an April 2016 article in the journal Fitoterapia. Garcinia helps in weight loss through three mechanisms: It regulates appetite-related serotonin levels, increases fat burning and decreases the body’s own fat production.
Dose: 800–1,600 mg daily. You’ll find lower doses in supplements that combine garcinia with other appetite-suppressing ingredients.
Natives of southern Africa have for centuries chewed on pieces of this succulent to suppress hunger and thirst while on long hunting trips. Only a handful of human tests have been conducted, but in these studies hoodia has been shown to reduce carbohydrate cravings among people on low-calorie diets. A new study found that a compound in hoodia boosts insulin activity and reduces appetite.
Dose: Take 250 mg daily unless the label indicates otherwise.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and expands in the gut to form a gel, creating a sense of fullness. That alone can reduce the desire to eat more, but soluble fiber may also work in other ways. It slows the movement of food from the stomach into the intestine, and by doing so it helps stabilize blood sugar. Some of the top soluble fiber supplements include glucomannan, beta-glucan, alginate, inulin and psyllium. Fiber may be combined with other types of supplements.
Dose: Because fiber supplements vary, follow label directions for use.
Safe supplements for curbing hunger
Remember: It's a good idea to talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement regimen.
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.
Bragg, a venerable name in the health food industry, sells organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 16- and 32-ounce bottles. The company states the product is unheated and unpasteurized and contains 5 percent acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar.
Now Foods Apple Cider Vinegar Caps.
Each capsule contains 450 mg of apple cider vinegar powder, derived from fermented and dehydrated sweet apple cider. The label recommends two capsules daily, adding up to 900 mg.
Irwin Naturals Garcinia HCA.
Three liquid soft-gel caps contain 1,200 mg of garcinia cambogia extract, half of which is hydroxycitric acid, the fruit’s active ingredient. The product also contains 3 mg of a blend of BioPerine complex and ginger to aid digestion and absorption.
Paradise South African Hoodia.
This supplement is sourced from South Africa, where Hoodia gordonni, a succulent, grows wild. The company states the hoodia is produced under government license, with a portion of the earnings given to various social upliftment programs.
Natural Max Maximum Strength Glucomannan.
Two capsules of this glucomannan supplement provide 2,000 mg of konjac root extract, derived from Amorphophallus konjac. Glucomannan has the highest viscosity of any individual type of soluble fiber supplement.
Natural Factors SlimStyles PGX.
PGX, or PolyGlycopleX, consists of three fibers: konjac powder (glucomannan), sodium alginate and xanthan gum. Together, these fibers form a gel that’s several times greater than an individual fiber. PGX is sold in a few forms, including capsules and mixes.