These Are the Expert-Approved Appetite Suppressants That Totally Work
When you hear the term “appetite suppressants,” it’s easy to think of some kind of medication or diet pill that will easily fix your hunger cravings. However, you may be shocked to learn that the best appetite suppressants are actually natural foods that can easily be part of your diet. An appetite suppressant is simply a food that will help you feel completely full and satisfied, to the point where your appetite will be curbed and you’ll no longer be scrounging for food.
A feeling of true fullness actually comes from a hormone known as leptin. It helps to control your appetite and signals your brain when to stop eating. This can be rather easy to ignore with a food that doesn’t have a high satiety, which is why adding in appetite suppressants can help. They reduce ghrelin, the "hunger hormone" that makes you feel hungry.
Between our own research and speaking with Hilary Cecere, RD for Eat Clean Bro, we were able to create a list of effective appetite suppressants that will reduce ghrelin and help you feel naturally feel full for hours.
According to Cecere, the best way to squash your hunger is to eat a volume of food with low calories, especially fruits and vegetables.
“I think some of the best whole foods are going to be your high volume foods, as they’re called,” says Cecere. “Basically they contain fiber and high water content, so that would be your fruits and veggies. They’re able to fill you up without adding a ton of calories.”
Non-starchy vegetables, or low-carb vegetables, are a great place to start, especially because they are lower in calories. Add servings of different kinds into your meals, like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, celery, and more.
The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Sydney released a Satiety Index of Common Foods revealing the satiety level of foods compared to common white bread. Boiled potatoes ended up with the highest satiety level, with a satiety level over three times more than white bread. This means potatoes—sweet and even white potatoes—can squash that hunger after one meal, according to Cecere.
For Cecere, starting her day off with oatmeal leaves her feeling satisfied and full for long periods of time, and it’s one of the foods she highly recommends. "I always find if I have oatmeal in the morning for breakfast it pretty much holds me over," she says.
While not all carbs make one feel full (the Satiety Index is proof of that), there are certain ones that will make you feel full over others. Cecere finding the right carbs (and even the right amount of carbs) is a trial-and-error process for everyone, as every human is different. "When you choose a refined carb that digests quickly, that’s kind of where you feel hungry soon after eating," says Cecere.
In her trial-and-error, she noticed that having carbohydrates in the morning helped her to feel satisfied throughout her day. "I find that I definitely need a carbohydrate in the morning, and usually if I don’t I’m hungry, I’m kind of cranky, so I definitely have found that for myself," says Cecere. "But I do think determining how many servings of every single macronutrient you need is just honestly based on your goals and trial and error."
See if starting with oatmeal in the morning is right for you with these overnight oat recipes.
While high-volume foods come with a variety of options, Cecere pointed out a few specific foods in her interview. One of those "great choices" was enjoying some watermelon. Watermelon is high in fiber and consists of 92 percent water, which also is an appetite suppressant recommended by Cecere.
Tomatoes were another recommendation from Cecere in her list of appetite suppressant foods. One cup of tomatoes contains more than two grams of fiber, according to the USDA’s FoodData Central, which is the same amount of fiber as 4.5 cups of spinach. Add tomatoes (and spinach, while we’re talking about it) to some eggs for a hunger-curbing breakfast.
Having high-fiber foods in your diet is another great way to feel full, and apples are probably one of the most delicious ones you can have (or at least for some of our taste buds). According to an article published by the Harvard School of Public Health, fiber "helps regulate the body's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger an blood sugar in check." Because apples are known for being great sources of fiber, having it be a part of your diet—either with your breakfast or even as a snack or dessert—could be a great way to stop feeling so hungry all the time.
You probably have heard of all of the benefits of consuming broth, especially bone broth, but does it really do anything for your appetite? According to Cecere, it’s a helpful appetite suppressant just like the rest. Bone broth contains 10 grams of protein in just one cup, and because protein is satiating, this means starting a meal with bone broth—or a broth-based soup—can also be satiating. Plus, there are a lot of benefits of bone broth, like how it improves your gut.
If you’re not feeling a broth-based soup, salad could be another great option to start your meal with, according to Cecere. "[It] causes people to eat less," says Cecere. "Again, it kind of works in the same way where it’s adding volume to your belly and then you’re not going to indulge so much into your meal."
Studies even show this to be true! These studies showed that eating a low-energy-dense salad (aka a lower calorie salad, similar to Cecere’s low-calorie, high-volume food recommendation) will reduce "meal energy intake," which means the amount of calories consumed during a main course, served after the salad. Starting your meal with a higher-volume, low-calorie food—like a simple garden salad with one of these low-calorie dressings—can be incredibly beneficial as an appetite suppressant, and your health goals overall.
This may seem silly, but trust us on this one. Studies show that starting your day with water—or even drinking 1.5 liters of water a day, according to studies—can actually help your overall calorie consumption throughout the day.
"Water works the same way, people who drink 1-2 cups of water before eating tend to eat less," says Cecere. "So I think water is often overlooked but it’s huge in that equation."
Avocado is considered a healthy fat, and healthy fats are popularly known for making people feel full after consuming them. “The thing about fats is that it signals to your brain that you’re full, plus fat takes longer to digest,” says Cecere.
According to Healthline, avocados are also great for absorbing nutrients in plant-based foods. Some nutrients are known to be fat-soluble, which means that you need a fat in order to fully gain the nutrients out of them. Avocado can be helpful for this process. Plus, avocado is full of nutrients itself! It has a high amount of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and fiber, and it even has more potassium than a banana!
Nuts are also a high-fat food that Cecere highly recommends.
"They literally keep you full longer and suppress the appetite," says Cecere. "That’s why a handful of almonds is so great between a meal."
That's right! Grab a handful of almonds (about one ounce of them, according to Cecere) and enjoy them in between your meals.
Studies show that consuming higher amounts of protein does promote satiety, especially with increased eating frequency. Having a lean protein, compared to another source of protein, can help in terms of the volume of food you can have for fewer calories. For example, four ounces of ground beef averages around 200 calories with 23 grams of protein, while four ounces of chicken breast averages 100 to 130 calories with 27 grams of protein. Including lean proteins lets you have a higher volume of protein for fewer calories compared to other sources of protein, helping you to feel full.
Because Greek yogurt also has a high amount of protein (an individual 5.3-ounce container averages 160 calories and 15 grams of protein), it is the perfect appetite-suppressant snack. According to one study done by the University of Missouri’s Department of Nutrition, having an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt "reduced hunger, increased fullness, and delayed subsequent eating compared to lower protein snacks." For even more filling snack time, add in a tablespoon of peanut butter for an extra kick of healthy fat.
We already know that having protein is helpful for satiety, so adding the original "energy balls" into your diet will help with squashing hunger. This appetite suppressant is great for every meal! You can make all sorts of egg dishes for breakfast, or hard boil eggs to throw on top of salads or simply eat as a snack. Here are 23 Delicious Egg Recipes to Stay Skinny for you to try!
"Coffee contains caffeine so it actually speeds up your metabolism a little bit, but caffeine is also an appetite suppressant," says Cecere, as well as numerous studies. "So sometimes if people have a morning coffee, or even in the afternoon, they don’t feel hungry right away. And that’s basically the caffeine—and moderate caffeine consumption—like one to two."
That’s right, even chocolate is on Cecere’s list! But specifically dark chocolate, given that dark chocolate also contains some caffeine.
"I think dark chocolate is good because while it’s higher in fat, it actually does contain a small amount of caffeine, and I think it also kind of hits a sweet tooth," says Cecere.
One study, published by the Department of Internal Medicine at Reinier de Graaf Group of Hospitals in the Netherlands, even showed how eating, and even smelling, dark chocolate could create changes in ghrelin and resulted in a satiation response.
When it’s time to wind down for the evening, some may reach for a cocktail or a glass of red wine (yes, wine has some health benefits). But for Cecere, a glass of seltzer will do, especially because it makes her feel full before hitting the hay.
"I think it’s the bubbles in the seltzer and the carbonation, it kind of crushes a craving but also those bubbles and the extra air in your belly fill you up," says Cecere.
Her theories even ring true in studies! Carbonated water causes a "significant, satiating effect," even if it’s for a short term, according to a study published by the Graduate School of Human Science and Environment at the University of Hyogo in Japan. So if you find yourself looking for a little snack at the end of the day, try drinking a glass of seltzer instead. It will at least keep you feeling full as you get ready for bed.