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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Do Appetite Suppressants Work, or What Can You Use Instead?

Do Appetite Suppressants Work, or What Can You Use Instead?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: June 2, 2023
7 min read 700 Views 0 Comments
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Appetite suppressants have been used for weight loss for many years, but how do they really work? And what natural alternatives can you use instead to control hunger and support your goals?

do appetite suppressants work

Losing weight can be a challenge when you’re constantly hungry. The urge to snack makes dieting a difficult and uncomfortable experience, but there are ways to eliminate your hunger pangs. 

Many brands have developed appetite suppressants that claim to curb hunger. They trick your brain into thinking you’re full, which means you won’t binge or snack on unhealthy foods while you lose weight. But do they really work? 

Discover the effectiveness of appetite suppressants, along with some natural options that could benefit your health and weight loss.

Do Appetite Suppressants Work? Separating Facts From Fiction

Yes, appetite suppressants do work, but you should consult with a medical professional before trying some. These supplements increase the hormones that make you feel full and satisfied, meaning you won’t feel the urge to snack on junk food and exceed your calorie intake. 

One type of appetite suppressant essentially tricks your brain into thinking you aren’t hungry. It increases the “feel-good” hormone called serotonin, which regulates sleep, mood, and appetite. Serotonin also boosts gut motility to ensure your body is absorbing enough nutrients for energy.

The second type can target your adrenal gland by stopping the brain from sending hunger signals. Throughout the day, you won’t feel as hungry between meals. Most of these supplements also use dietary fiber to slow digestion and increase fullness.

You can buy over-the-counter appetite suppressant pills to support your weight loss. Doctors or registered dietitians will recommend buying products that contain natural ingredients like polyunsaturated fatty acid, glucomannan, or acacia fiber. These all work, including dietary fiber, to eliminate hunger pangs.

Just be careful of products that contain unnecessary ingredients, such as chemicals, additives, and synthetic molecules. You want to discuss healthy appetite suppression with a medical professional.

What Are Appetite Suppressants?

Appetite suppressants are a type of weight loss medication that can curb hunger by making you feel full. In turn, you won’t consume as many calories, which leads to weight loss. 

People who are trying to lose stubborn weight may take over-the-counter diet pills to control their appetite on a low-calorie diet. These supplements are supposed to make dieting less challenging because you don’t have to deal with frequent sugar cravings or low moods. 

The Food and Drug Administration has advised people to use appetite suppressants in the short term, meaning no longer than 12 weeks. They should only suit beginners on a weight loss diet who aren’t comfortable with being hungry constantly or adults with a body mass index of 30 or higher. 

You shouldn’t take appetite suppressants for weight loss if you have glaucoma, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or liver disease. This is because appetite suppressants can interact with medications that treat these conditions. The same goes for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those who are on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. 

Types of appetite suppressants 

There are several types of appetite suppressants that you can get from your doctor. Learning what they are can help you make a more informed decision. Remember to choose a supplement that works for your health and weight loss goals.

The following are some effective options for suppressing your appetite: 

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda): This is an injection that works similarly to glucagon-like peptide-1, which is a hormone that regulates hunger. You can take the injection once daily to control your appetite, but a medical professional will recommend the correct dosage.
  • Naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave): It contains two medications that use an opioid receptor antagonist and the dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor to increase happy hormones in your body. This suppressant also targets the hypothalamus, a part of your brain that regulates temperature, moods, and appetite. 
  • Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia): This combination of two weight loss medications can make you feel less hungry. Phentermine is a stimulant that dampens your appetite, while topiramate controls any sugar cravings throughout the day.
  • Natural foods: You can also incorporate more foods into your diet that keep you satisfied. For example, almonds, avocados, eggs, and sweet potatoes all contain healthy fats and dietary fiber that will prolong satiety. It’s better to opt for natural appetite suppressants so you don’t rely on injections or capsules. 
  • Fiber supplements: Many brands make fiber supplements for weight loss because they contain psyllium husk, which is a type of dietary fiber that lowers your blood sugar. Those with high blood sugar levels tend to get more cravings because the body cannot convert food into energy properly. 

Benefits of Appetite Suppressants 

Consuming an appetite suppressant regularly can offer some benefits. Whether you want to lose weight or control your hunger during fasting, taking a hormone-regulating supplement can help you achieve your goals.

Below are some benefits of taking prescription appetite suppressants:

#1 Supports weight loss

An appetite suppressant can help you lose weight because you don’t feel the urge to eat more calories. The supplement doesn’t burn fat directly, but it can encourage you to snack less, especially on high-sugar foods. Taking natural diet pills in the morning ensures that you’ll feel full throughout the day.

#2 Promotes satiety 

Those who are fasting intermittently may experience more hunger because they have set periods of not eating. This common weight loss method requires no caloric intake for a period of time during the day, which encourages the body to burn stubborn fat for energy. 

However, it’s easy to get hungry because of the lack of food. Therefore, taking an appetite suppressant could help you lose weight without having to snack or break your fasting window.

#3 Could boost your metabolism 

Research suggests that a natural appetite suppressant, such as eggs, coffee, and ginger, can boost your metabolic rate. A fast metabolism burns more calories, which means you can lose weight at a faster pace. 

Some may think that this benefit makes you extra hungry, but a regulated metabolism can better manage your energy sources. This type of metabolism uses more fat for energy instead of glucose.

Side Effects of Appetite Suppressants 

Taking prescription appetite suppressants for the first time can cause side effects. Your body needs time to adjust to the supplements before you notice any positive changes. 

If the pills make you feel worse, stop taking them immediately and talk to your doctor about your physical health. 

Here are some possible side effects of appetite suppressants:

  • Painful constipation
  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure or heart rate
  • Dry mouth 
  • Change in taste 
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems or insomnia

5 Natural Appetite Suppressants for Weight Loss

For those who don’t want to take supplements, it’s worth learning about natural alternatives that offer similar benefits. 

Here are some natural appetite suppressants you can try for weight loss:

#1 Green tea 

Green tea can suppress your appetite by increasing cholecystokinin (CCK) levels. This is a hormone that stops you from feeling hungry. Drinking matcha green tea for weight loss also increases your energy, meaning you won’t need the extra calories from junk food or snacks throughout the day. 

#2 Yerba mate 

Yerba mate is a herbal plant that stimulates serotonin production in your body. An increase in serotonin will reduce your appetite, leading to a lower calorie intake. You should consume yerba mate tea to gain the full benefits by adding the herb to hot water and waiting for a few minutes. 

#3 Dietary fiber 

Dietary fiber is one of the best carbohydrate sources you can have. This is because fiber slows the movement of food through your intestines, which reduces hunger for a longer period. It also ensures you don’t gain weight by snacking between meals or breaking your calorie deficit. 

Consider eating more high-fiber foods such as broccoli, avocados, apples, dried fruits, beans, chia seeds, and oats. 

#4 Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a herb similar to clover and soy. It can help you achieve a healthy weight by feeding your gut water-soluble heteropolysaccharide galactomannan, which is a natural compound that increases fullness. You can mix the seeds with some water first thing in the morning. 

#5 Coffee

Coffee lovers can continue to drink this popular beverage while losing weight. Plain coffee, without sugar or flavored syrups, will decrease ghrelin levels in your body. Ghrelin is responsible for hunger and stress, meaning you’re more likely to binge eat if you have too much of this hormone. 


Are appetite suppressants safe?

Yes, appetite suppressant supplements prescribed by your doctor are safe. You should consult a health care professional before trying diet pills for weight management. Before turning to over-the-counter supplements, choose natural foods that help regulate your appetite.

What’s the best way to suppress appetite?

Drink more water every day to keep your hunger cravings at bay. Water encourages your brain to stop sending hunger signals to the stomach, meaning you won’t want to snack. Other common methods, such as eating high-fiber foods and practicing mindful eating, can also support weight loss.

Can you lose weight on appetite suppressants?

You can lose weight on an appetite suppressant, but it’s only by reducing your caloric intake. Prescription weight loss drugs don’t burn fat directly, so keep that in mind.

A Word From a Nutritionist

An appetite suppressant can help you lose excess weight by reducing your hunger pangs. The fewer cravings you get, the fewer calories you’ll be eating. Being in a consistent calorie deficit means you’re burning fat for energy.

Of course, not everyone wants to take supplements while trying to lose weight. There are many other ways to suppress your appetite without injections or capsules. For example, drink at least nine cups of water a day, stay active to distract yourself, and eat more lean protein to curb cravings.

You can talk to a registered dietitian about your weight loss journey. These professionals can determine if you need appetite suppressants. Those with a body mass index over 30 may need these supplements to help prevent overeating.


Appetite suppressants work to control your hunger and help you lose weight. They regulate the “feel-good” hormones that determine whether you’re hungry or not. 

Before you head to the drugstore, try natural supplements first because you don’t have to take injections or capsules every day.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: June 2, 2023
7 min read 700 Views 0 Comments

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