There are many weight loss products on the market.
They work in different ways, either by reducing your appetite, blocking the absorption of certain nutrients, or increasing the number of calories you burn.
This article focuses on natural herbs and plants that have been shown to help you eat less food by reducing appetite, increasing feelings of fullness, or reducing food cravings.
Here are the top 10 natural appetite suppressants that can help you lose weight.
Fenugreek is an herb from the legume family. The seeds, after being dried and ground, are the most commonly used part of the plant.
The seeds consist of 45% fiber, most of which is insoluble. However, they also contain soluble fiber, including galactomannan (
Fenugreek works by slowing stomach emptying and delaying carb and fat absorption. This translates into decreased appetite and better blood sugar control.
A study of 18 healthy people with obesity found that consuming 8 grams of fiber from fenugreek reduced appetite more effectively than 4 grams of fiber from fenugreek. Participants also felt fuller and ate less at the next meal (
Moreover, it seems that fenugreek could help people decrease their fat intake.
For example, one study of 12 healthy men showed that taking 1.2 grams of fenugreek seed extract decreased daily fat intake by 17%. It also lowered their daily calorie intake by about 12% (
Additionally, a review of 12 randomized controlled studies found that fenugreek has blood-sugar- and cholesterol-lowering properties (
Research has shown that fenugreek is safe and has few or no side effects (
- Whole seed. Start with 2 grams and move up to 5 grams, as tolerated.
- Capsule. Start with a 0.5-gram dose and increase to 1 gram after a couple of weeks if you do not experience any side effects.
Fenugreek seeds contain galactomannan fiber. This soluble fiber helps reduce appetite by increasing fullness levels, slowing stomach emptying, and delaying carb and fat absorption.
In one study, 83 people with overweight experienced a significant reduction in body weight and fat after taking a supplement containing 3 grams of glucomannan and 300 mg of calcium carbonate for 2 months (
In a larger study, 176 participants with overweight were randomized to receive three different glucomannan supplements or a placebo while on a calorie-restricted diet.
Those who received any of the glucomannan supplements experienced significant weight loss compared with those taking the placebo (
Moreover, glucomannan may help decrease the absorption of protein and fats, feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, help regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol (
Glucomannan is considered safe and generally well tolerated. However, it may start expanding before reaching the stomach, making it a choking hazard. Therefore, it’s important to take it with one to two glasses of water or other liquid (
Start at 1 gram 3 times a day, 15 minutes to 1 hour before a meal (
Glucomannan is one of the most effective types of fiber for weight loss. This soluble fiber forms a viscous gel, which delays fat and carb absorption. When taken before meals, it can help suppress appetite.
3. Gymnema sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb most commonly known for its anti-diabetic properties. However, it could also aid weight loss.
Its active compounds, known as gymnemic acids, have been shown to block the sweetness of food. In other words, consuming Gymnema sylvestre can reduce the taste of sugar in the mouth and fight sugar cravings (
In fact, a study that tested the effects of Gymnema sylvestre on people who were fasting found those who took it had lower appetite levels and were more likely to limit their food intake, compared with those who did not take the supplement (
Similarly, gymnemic acids can bind to sugar receptors in the intestine, preventing the absorption of sugar in the blood. This could help maintain low blood sugar levels and avoid carb storage as fat (
One of the studies showed that this supplement helped animals maintain their weight while they were fed a high fat diet for 10 weeks (
Another study demonstrated that Gymnema sylvestre could block the digestion of fat and even increase its excretion from the body (
Always try to consume these supplements with food, as mild stomach discomfort may occur if they are taken on an empty stomach.
- Capsule. Take 100 mg 3–4 times daily.
- Powder. Start with 2 grams and move up to 4 grams if no side effects are experienced.
- Tea. Boil leaves for 5 minutes and let steep for 10–15 minutes before drinking.
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb that can help decrease sugar cravings. Its active compounds can help you eat fewer sugary foods, decrease sugar absorption into the blood, and even block the digestion of fats.
4. Griffonia simplicifolia (5-HTP)
Griffonia simplicifolia is a plant known for being one of the best natural sources of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
In one randomized study, 20 healthy women with overweight received Griffonia simplicifolia extract containing 5-HTP or a placebo for 4 weeks.
At the end of the study, the treatment group experienced significant increases in fullness levels and reductions in waist and arm circumference (
Another study investigated the effect of a formulation containing 5-HTP on appetite in 27 healthy women with overweight.
Results showed that the treatment group experienced lower appetite, increased levels of fullness, and significant weight reductions over an 8-week period (
However, supplementation with 5-HTP appears to produce some nausea and stomach discomfort during prolonged use (
5-HTP supplements may also increase the risk of serotonin syndrome when combined with certain antidepressants. You should not take Griffonia simplicifolia or 5-HTP supplements without consulting your healthcare provider (
5-HTP supplements are probably a more effective appetite suppressant than Griffonia simplicifolia, given that 5-HTP is the main active compound in this herb.
Doses for 5-HTP range from 300–500 mg, taken once a day or in divided doses. It’s recommended to take it with meals to increase feelings of fullness.
Griffonia simplicifolia is a plant rich in 5-HTP. This compound is converted into serotonin in the brain, which has been shown to decrease appetite and reduce carb intake.
5. Caralluma fimbriata
Another study gave 43 people with overweight 500 mg of Caralluma fimbriata twice daily for 12 weeks, alongside a controlled diet and exercise. It found they experienced a significant reduction in waist circumference and body weight (
Additionally, one study looked at people with Prader-Willi syndrome, a health condition that leads to overeating. Participants were treated with doses of 250, 500, 750 or 1,000 mg of Caralluma fimbriata extract or a placebo for 4 weeks.
The group taking the highest dose — 1,000 mg per day — experienced significantly lower appetite levels and reductions in food intake by the end of the study (
Caralluma fimbriata extract does not have any documented side effects (
It’s recommended in doses of 500 mg twice daily for at least 1 month.
Caralluma fimbriata is an herb that may help decrease appetite levels. Combined with exercise and a calorie-controlled diet, Caralluma fimbriata has been shown to promote weight loss.
6. Green tea extract
Green tea contains two compounds that contribute to its weight loss properties — caffeine and catechins.
In fact, a study of 10 healthy people showed a 4% increase in calories burned after consuming a combination of EGCG and caffeine (
Green tea has been found to be safe in doses of up to 800 mg of EGCG. Higher doses of 1,200 mg of EGCG have been linked to nausea (
The recommended dosage for green tea with standardized EGCG as its main ingredient is 250–500 mg per day.
Green tea extract contains caffeine and catechins, which can boost metabolism, burn fat, and aid weight loss. Combining green tea extract with other ingredients may decrease appetite levels and reduce food intake.
7. Conjugated linoleic acid
Research shows that CLA also increases feelings of fullness and decreases appetite (
A study showed that 54 people given 3.6 grams of CLA per day for 13 weeks had lower appetite and greater levels of fullness than those taking a placebo. However, this did not affect how much food participants consumed (
Moreover, CLA seems to help reduce body fat. A review of 18 studies concluded that taking 3.2 grams of CLA per day seems to reduce body fat (
The recommended daily dose is 3–6 grams. It should be taken with meals.
Conjugated linoleic acid is a trans fat with appetite suppressant benefits. CLA has been shown to increase fat burn and block fat absorption.
8. Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia cambogia comes from a fruit of the same name, also known as Garcinia gummi-gutta.
In addition, human studies demonstrate that garcinia cambogia reduces appetite, blocks fat production, and decreases body weight (
However, other studies have found that garcinia cambogia does not reduce appetite or aid weight loss. Therefore, results may vary by individual (
Garcinia cambogia is recommended at doses of 500 mg of HCA. It should be taken 30–60 minutes before meals.
Garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA has been shown to help increase serotonin levels, which may improve fullness levels. However, some studies show no significant effects from this supplement.
9. Yerba mate
Yerba mate is a plant native to South America. It’s known for its energy-boosting properties.
GLP-1 is a compound generated in the gut that regulates appetite, while leptin is the hormone in charge of signaling fullness. Increasing their levels leads to less hunger.
In fact, a study of 12 healthy women demonstrated that taking 2 grams of yerba mate before performing a 30-minute cycling exercise reduced appetite and even boosted metabolism, focus, and energy levels (
Yerba mate appears to be safe and does not produce any severe side effects (
- Tea. Drink 3 cups (330 ml each) daily.
- Powder. Take 1–1.5 grams per day.
Yerba mate is a plant known for its energy-boosting properties. It has been shown to help increase glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and leptin levels. Both of these compounds may increase fullness levels and decrease appetite.
Additionally, coffee may help decrease appetite, thus aiding weight loss. It seems that ingesting caffeine 0.5–4 hours before a meal may influence stomach emptying, appetite hormones, and feelings of hunger (
Moreover, drinking coffee may make people less likely to eat more during the following meal and throughout the day, compared with not drinking it (
Interestingly, these effects may differ for men and women. One study showed that consuming 300 mg of caffeine resulted in about a 22% decrease in calorie intake for men, whereas it did not affect calorie intake for women (71).
Nevertheless, note that caffeine intake of 250 mg or more may raise blood pressure in some people (
One cup of regular brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine (77).
Doses of 200 mg of caffeine, or about two cups of regular coffee, are usually used for weight loss. Research generally employs doses of 1.8–2.7 mg per pound (4–6 mg per kg) of body weight.
However, these doses may depend on the individual and any possible side effects.
Coffee has been shown to decrease appetite, delay stomach emptying, and influence appetite hormones, all of which can help you eat less. Caffeine has also been proven to increase fat burn and aid weight loss.
The bottom line
Certain herbs and plants have been proven to promote weight loss.
They work by reducing appetite, increasing fullness levels, slowing stomach emptying, blocking the absorption of nutrients, and influencing appetite hormones.
Soluble fibers like fenugreek and glucomannan are great at delaying gastric emptying, increasing fullness, and inhibiting energy intake.
Caralluma fimbriata, Griffonia simplicifolia, and garcinia cambogia contain compounds that help increase serotonin levels in the brain, which has been shown to increase fullness levels and decrease carb intake.
Meanwhile, yerba mate, coffee, and green tea extract are rich in caffeine and compounds like EGCG that have been shown to reduce food intake, influence appetite hormones, and boost metabolism.
Lastly, CLA has been shown to increase fat burn and reduce appetite levels.
While results may vary by individual, these supplements seem to be a good approach for those looking to take a more natural approach to weight loss.