Dieting is hard – go ahead and admit it. We all want to eat less, but then we add more food to our plate, buy another soda, or sneak a second cookie, even though we don’t want to. The will to lose weight is there, but the appetite just won’t cooperate.
That’s why the idea of an appetite suppressant is so enticing. Just take a pill or drink some tea, and lose your desire for more food. It sounds like a pipe-dream, but there are at least three natural appetite suppressants that have actually been proven to work, at least for some people.
This is an amino acid that the body turns into serotonin, a neurotransmitter than helps us feel calm and relaxed, and which helps to reduce our appetite. 5-HTP is naturally produced by the body from tryptophan, a protein that is found in certain foods – most famously in turkey. (That’s why we feel calm and sleepy after our Thanksgiving meal.)
Obese people have been found to be less able to turn tryptophan into 5-HTP, and for that reason the overweight tend to have low levels of serotonin. Low levels of this brain chemical can lead to cravings for carbohydrates, and to depression.
Studies have shown that obese women who took a supplement of 5-HTP reduced their carbohydrate intake by 50% and also reduced their calories, even when the study organizers asked the women to not diet. Other women in the study, who were given a placebo, did not change their calorie intake and did not lose weight. This study seems to indicate that 5-HTP will reduce the craving for carbs, and this will in turn reduce the number of calories consumed. This leads to weight loss, even without consciously dieting.
Of course, there are warnings and concerns. 5-HTP increases the body’s serotonin levels, and this may cause some risk of damage to the heart muscle and aortic valve – the same problems caused by fen/phen.
Anyone who has cardiovascular disease, and anyone taking any other type of over-the-counter or prescription medication, should have a serious discussion with their doctor before using this product. There may be potentially serious side effects.
If the warnings about 5-HTP make you a little nervous, try green tea. Green tea is easy to find in your grocery store, and is considered a metabolic stimulator and a diuretic.
A study conducted in 2000 found that rats given an extract of green tea had a significant decrease in food intake and body weight.
Green tea is made from the same plant that black tea is made from, but the leaves are only lightly processed. Green tea contains beneficial substances called polyphenols, which promote the burning of fat. Green tea also contains caffeine, a stimulant and diuretic.
According to Deborah Mitchell, author of The Diet Pill Guide, you will want to drink 3 to 6 cups of green tea if you want it to help you manage your appetite. But – don’t drink green tea if you’re pregnant or breast feeding, if you have heart problems, an overactive thyroid, or kidney problems.
And remember that green tea has caffeine in it, so it can give you the jitters if you drink too much.
Our third natural appetite suppressant is glucomannan, an extract of konnyaku root, a member of the yam family. This supplement has been used in Japan for many centuries to help Asian women stay thin, but few studies have yet been done to prove its effectiveness.
In one small study, which did not have a control group, twenty overweight people took glucomannan before meals for 8 weeks and lost an average of 5 ½ pounds without dieting. Their cholesterol levels also dropped significantly. An Italian study involving obese children also had positive results.
This product swells in the stomach, creating a feeling of fullness. It is also claimed that it will reduce the fat content in the blood and relieve constipation. Glucomannan may reduce the body’s ability to absorb some nutrients, including vitamin E, so a multivitamin-mineral supplement should be taken along with the appetite suppressant.