Welcome to the holiday season—the nemesis for those who are struggling to stay lean over the winter. One of the biggest problems with this time of the year is the propensity to overeat. Of course, the best way to avoid putting on the obligatory 10-15 lbs over the winter is to keep your diet in check and workout regularly—But how do you hold back from eating more than you need? Well, the answer is right in front of you. In this article we present some of the best non-stimulant appetite suppressants that will help you to avoid temptation and overeating this holiday season!
[JORDANA: I didn’t include Hoodia because of the latest data suggesting the health risks outweigh its modest benefits]
What it is: This is the naturally occurring compound that makes chili peppers hot. In chemical terms it is known as 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide.
How it works: Capsaicin ingestion causes an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity, which increases the release of noradrenaline into the blood. High noradrenaline levels decrease appetite and increase mobilization of fats from fat cells, to be burned as energy. So when you take capsaicin you get the benefits of appetite suppression and increased fat burning!
How to take it: The potency of capsaicin is measured in Scoville units or heat units. For the greatest effects you should look for supplements that deliver 40,000-90,000 Scoville units per dose. Take one dose 30 minutes before each meal.
Yoshioka M1, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, Dionne I, Doucet E, Suzuki M, Tremblay A.
Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. Br J Nutr. 1999 Aug;82(2):115-23.
What it is: A trace mineral that is available in low amounts in many foods.
How it works: When supplemented, chromium enhances the action of insulin to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. As such, chromium reduces carb cravings and enhances fat loss. So, like capsaicin, chromium curbs your appetite and helps to burn fat!
How to take it: Reports on the effective doses range between 50–300 micrograms per day. However, the National Academy of Sciences established an “estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake” range for chromium to be 50-200 micrograms per day. For best results, split your daily dose into 2 or 3 smaller doses and take immediately before or after eating (without any other supplements).
What it is: Caralluma fimbriata is a succulent (fleshy) cactus used by tribes in South India to suppress hunger and enhance endurance.
How it works: In a recent pharmacological review published in the Journal of Medicinal Food it was reported that pregnane glycosides are the compounds responsible for caralluma’s appetite suppressant effects. Animal studies have illustrated that pregnane glycosides (e.g. P57) act on areas of the hypothalamus (in the brain) involved in hunger and satiety. In a study published in Appetite, subjects who took 1g per day of caralluma fimbriata extract for 60 days had an almost 10% decrease in hunger by day 30 and 20% decrease by day 60.
How to take it: Human studies used 1g per day (100:1 extraction), however potencies may vary with level of extraction. Take as directed.
Dutt HC, Singh S, Avula B, Khan IA, Bedi YS. Pharmacological review of Caralluma R.Br. with special reference to appetite suppression and anti-obesity. J Med Food. 2012 Feb;15(2):108-19. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1555. Epub 2011 Dec 22. Review.
Kuriyan R1, Raj T, Srinivas SK, Vaz M, Rajendran R, Kurpad AV. Effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake and anthropometry in adult Indian men and women. Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):338-44. Epub 2006 Nov 13.
PHASEOLUS VULGARIS (WHITE KIDNEY BEAN) and CYNARA SCOLYMUS (ARTICHOKE) EXTRACT
What it is: Standardized extracts of white kidney beans and artichoke
How it works: This is an interesting combination of herbal extracts that has recently been shown to reduce blood glucose and control appetite. White kidney bean extract contains potent alpha-amylase inhibitors, which decrease carbohydrate metabolism, keep blood glucose low, and increase feelings of satiety (fullness). As well, white kidney bean contains a lectin called phytohaemagglutinin, which has been shown to stimulate the release of cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptides that regulate food intake. Artichoke extract contains flavonoids that influence carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It also contains a compound called chlorogenic acid that inhibits glucose-6-phosphate translocase, which essentially blocks the absorption and utilization of consumed carbohydrates.
How to take it: According to a study published in Phytotherapy Research, take 100 mg of white kidney bean extract and 200 mg of artichoke extract, 3 times per day, 30 minutes before meals. However, since the level of extraction or standardization may vary from product to product, take as directed.
Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Orsini F, Opizzi A, Villani S. Appetite Control and Glycaemia Reduction in overweight subjects treated with a combination of two highly standardized extracts from phaseolus vulgaris and cynara scolymus. Phytother Res. 2011 Feb 10. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3425. [Epub ahead of print]
What it is: A soluble fiber derived from the tubers of konjac that can take on more than 200x its weight in water.
How it works: Being a fiber supplement, glucomannan is great for creating a feeling of “fullness” and thus suppressing the appetite. Furthermore, its water absorptive characteristics provide bulk that cleanses the digestive tract and colon. In a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study published in the Jounal of the American College of Nutrition, glucomannan greatly improved blood lipid levels and regulated blood glucose to normal levels in type 2 diabetics. In another placebo controlled trial published in La Clinica Terapeutica it was confirmed that a low calorie diet yielded greater weight-loss and was better tolerated in individuals who were taking glucomannan.
How to take it: Take 1-3 grams of glucomannan with 250-500ml of water, an hour before meals.
Chen HL, Sheu WH, Tai TS, Liaw YP, & Chen YC (2003). Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects–a randomized double-blind trial. J Am Coll Nutr 22, 36-42.
Cairella M & Marchini G (1995). Evaluation of the action of glucomannan on metabolic parameters and on the sensation of satiation in overweight and obese patients. Clin Ter 146, 269-274.
What it is: 5-hydroxtryptophan is an amino acid that converts to serotonin in the central nervous system.
How it works: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter primary in the control of mood, sleep, motivation and appetite. Taking 5-HTP has been shown to decrease appetite, enhance mood and promote deep sleep through its positive impact on serotonin levels. Many find taking 5-HTP at night (when dieting) helps ward off the nighttime munchies. Several studies have shown that taking 5-HTP daily significantly suppresses appetite.
How to take it: Take 50–1500 milligrams three times per day. Start with lowest dose and work upward. For best effects on appetite control, take on an empty stomach 30 minutes before meals. Do not take 5-HTP if you are on anti-depressant medication such as SSRIs.