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.
Fenugreek contains soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the majority of the fiber comes from galactomannan, a water-soluble fiber (1).
Fenugreek works by slowing down stomach emptying and delaying carbohydrate and fat absorption. This translates into decreased appetite and better blood sugar control.
A study of 18 healthy obese people 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 (3).
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%. This also lowered their daily calorie intake by about 12% (5).
Additionally, a review of 12 randomized controlled studies found that fenugreek has blood sugar-lowering and cholesterol-lowering properties (6).
Research has shown that fenugreek is safe and has few or no side effects (7).
- 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.
Summary Fenugreek is a plant rich in galactomannan fiber. This soluble fiber helps reduce appetite by increasing satiety levels, slowing stomach emptying and delaying carbohydrate and fat absorption.
Increasing your fiber intake is a great way to control appetite and lose weight (8).
Glucomannan is also able to absorb water and become a viscous gel, which can bypass digestion and get to the colon relatively unchanged (9).
In one study, 83 overweight people 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 two months (12).
In a larger study, 176 overweight participants 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 to those taking the placebo (10).
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 as well as LDL cholesterol (13, 14, 15).
Glucomannan is considered safe and it is generally well tolerated. However, it may start expanding before reaching the stomach, making it a choking hazard. Therefore, it is important to take it with 1–2 glasses of water or other liquid (9).
Start at 1 gram three times a day, 15 minutes to 1 hour before a meal (16).
Summary Glucomannan is one of the most effective types of fiber for weight loss. This soluble fiber forms a viscous gel, which delays fat and carbohydrate absorption. When taken before meals, it can help suppress appetite.
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb most commonly known for its anti-diabetic properties. However, it could also help with 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 (17, 18).
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 to those who did not take the supplement (19).
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 carbohydrate storage as fat (17).
One of the studies showed that this supplement helped animals maintain their weight while they were fed a high-fat diet for ten weeks (21).
Another study demonstrated that Gymnema sylvestre could block the digestion of fat and even increase its excretion from the body (20).
Always try to consume these supplements with food, as mild stomach discomfort may occur if they are taken on an empty stomach.
- Capsule: 100 mg three to four 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.
Summary Gymnema sylvestre is an herb able to help decrease sugar cravings. Its active compounds can help you eat fewer sugary foods, decrease sugar absorption in the blood and even block the digestion of fats.
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 overweight women received Griffonia simplicifolia extract containing 5-HTP or a placebo for four weeks.
At the end of the study, the treatment group experienced significant increases in satiety and reduction in body measurements with a lower waist and arm circumference (25).
Another study investigated the effect of a formulation containing 5-HTP on appetite in 27 healthy overweight women.
Results showed that the treatment group experienced lower appetite, increased levels of satiety and significant weight reduction over an eight-week period (26).
However, supplementation with 5-HTP appears to produce some nausea and stomach discomfort during prolonged use (24).
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 to 500 mg, taken once a day or in divided doses. It is recommended to take it with meals to increase satiety from foods.
Summary 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 carbohydrate intake.
Caralluma fimbriata is an herb that has traditionally been used for appetite suppression and to enhance endurance (27).
It is believed that compounds in Caralluma fimbriata can increase the circulation of serotonin in the brain, which has been shown to decrease carbohydrate intake and suppress appetite (22, 28, 29, 30).
Another study gave 43 overweight people 500 mg of Caralluma fimbriata twice daily for 12 weeks, alongside a controlled diet and exercise. By the end, they experienced a significant reduction in waist circumference and body weight (31).
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 four weeks.
The group taking the highest dose, 1,000 mg per day, experienced significantly lower appetite levels and decreases in food intake by the end of the study (30).
Caralluma fimbriata extract does not have any documented side effects (30).
It is recommended in doses of 500 mg twice daily for at least a month.
Summary Caralluma fimbriata is an herb that may help decrease appetite levels. Combined with exercise and a calorie-controlled diet, Caralluma fimbriata has also been shown to promote weight loss.
Green tea contains two compounds that contribute to its weight loss properties: caffeine and catechins.
Catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), have been shown to boost metabolism and reduce fat (35).
In fact, a study of 10 healthy people showed a 4% increase in calories burned after consuming a combination of EGCG and caffeine (37).
Although there is no research that investigates the appetite suppression properties of green tea extract in humans, it seems that green tea in combination with other ingredients may be effective at reducing appetite (38, 39).
Green tea has been found to be safe in doses of up to 800 mg EGCG. Higher doses of 1,200 mg EGCG have been linked to nausea (40).
The recommended dosage for green tea with standardized EGCG as its main ingredient is 250–500 mg per day.
Summary Green tea extract contains caffeine and catechins, which can boost metabolism, burn fat and help with weight loss. Combining green tea extract with other ingredients may decrease appetite levels and reduce food intake.
Research shows that CLA is also effective at increasing satiety and decreasing appetite (43).
A study showed that 54 people given 3.6 grams of CLA per day for 13 weeks had lower appetites and higher satiety than those taking a placebo. However, this did not impact how much food participants consumed (42).
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 be effective at reducing body fat (46).
The recommended daily dose is between 3 and 6 grams. It should be taken with meals.
Summary Conjugated linoleic acid is a trans fat with appetite suppressant benefits. CLA has been shown to increase fat burn and block fat absorption.
Garcinia cambogia comes from a fruit called Garcinia gummi-gutta.
In addition, human studies demonstrate that Garcinia cambogia is also effective at reducing appetite, blocking fat production and decreasing body weight (53).
However, other studies have found Garcinia cambogia ineffective at reducing appetite or helping with weight loss. Therefore, results may vary by individual (56).
Garcinia cambogia is recommended at doses of 500 mg of HCA. It should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before meals.
Summary Garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA has been shown to help increase serotonin levels, which may improve satiety levels. However, some studies show no significant effects from this supplement.
Yerba mate is a plant native to South America. It is 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 satiety. Increasing their levels leads to less hunger.
In fact, a study consisting 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 (63).
Yerba mate appears to be safe and does not produce any severe side effects (64).
- Tea: 3 cups (330 ml each) daily.
- Powder: 1 to 1.5 grams per day.
Summary 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 satiety levels and decrease appetite.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Coffee and its high concentration of caffeine are known to have many health benefits (65).
Additionally, coffee may help decrease appetite, thus aiding in weight loss. It seems that ingesting caffeine 0.5 to 4 hours before a meal may influence stomach emptying, appetite hormones and feelings of hunger (68).
Moreover, drinking coffee may make people less likely to eat more during the following meal and throughout the day, compared to not drinking it (69).
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 (70).
Nevertheless, note that caffeine intake of 250 mg or more may raise blood pressure in some people (75).
One cup of regular brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine (76).
Doses of 200 mg of caffeine, or about two cups of regular coffee, are usually used for weight loss. Research generally consists of 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 possible side effects.
Summary Coffee has been shown to decrease appetite, delay stomach emptying and influence appetite hormones, which can help you eat less. Caffeine has also been proven to increase fat burn and assist with weight loss.
There are certain herbs and plants that are proven to promote weight loss.
They work by reducing appetite, increasing satiety levels, slowing down stomach emptying, blocking the absorption of nutrients and influencing appetite hormones.
Soluble fibers like fenugreek and glucomannan are great at delaying gastric emptying, increasing satiety and inhibiting nutrient absorption.
Caralluma fimbriata, Griffonia simplicifolia and Garcinia cambogia have compounds that help increase serotonin levels in the brain, which has been shown to increase satiety and decrease carbohydrate intake.
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.