Losing weight can be tough. Sometimes we just need a little help…..
Many Americans struggle with their weight, especially now! The Quarantine 15 is a real thing! Sticking to healthy eating habits can be challenging, especially when you are starting new changes. Taking something to help reduce your appetite can seem like an appealing option, but isn’t so simple.
Another weight loss drug gets yanked….
In February 2020, the FDA pulled another weight loss drug (Belviq) from the market due to an increased risk of cancer. Belviq was FDA approved in 2012, and was the first weight loss drug that didn’t increase the risk of heart problems. The increase in cancer risk was small, and mostly found after extended use of the drug. If you’ve taken Belviq, you should stop using it, but no special cancer screenings or check ups are necessary. Some other weight loss drugs have been found to increase the risk of suicide.
With so many problems from weight loss drugs, what can be done if you feel like you need a little help getting started?
Good news! Here are 3 natural appetite suppressants that not only help you stick to your diet, but they actually make you healthier!
1. Stay feeling full with Glucomannan
This soluble fiber comes from a plant called Konjac root. It absorbs water in your stomach and swells to make you feel full. It also helps slow down stomach emptying, so the full feeling lasts longer. It can help reduce your appetite and overall food intake.
It also feeds your healthy gut bacteria, reduces constipation, lowers cholesterol and improves blood sugar levels.
It can slow down the absorption of medicines, so don’t take your medicines at the same time.
You don’t have to swallow a pill!
How to take it:
Glucomannan is available in capsules or as a powder you can mix into smoothies. But here is an even tastier way!
Try Japanese Shiritake Noodles, which are made from glucomannan. They taste good (a little bit rubbery, but surprisingly good nonetheless), are very low in calories, and contain no carbs. They can fit into almost any nutrition program: low carb, keto, plant based, paleo, vegan……
The noodles are available at most grocery stores and are typically in fluid filled packages (not dry like most noodles). Common brands include Skinny Pasta and Miracle Noodles. Just heat and serve!
Add veggies and tomato sauce, season with curry powder, or try this keto/paleo recipe for pad thai.
2. Ditch the sugar cravings with Gymnema
Gymnema sylvestre is an herb from India that has been used for thousands of years to help with blood sugar control. It reduces the taste of sugar, reduces sugar cravings, and reduces sugar absorption in your gut.
Here’s a party trick you can try. Open a gymnema capsule and drop some of the powder onto your tongue (warning: it tastes nasty). The herb will affect your taste buds to block the taste of sweet. If you eat something sugary, it won’t taste sweet!
It is also anti-inflammatory and helps to lower blood sugar
Because gymnema can lower blood sugar levels, you need to use caution if you are on blood sugar medications so your blood sugar doesn’t drop too low, which can be dangerous.
How to take it:
Traditionally in India the leaves from the gymnema plant were chewed or brewed into tea. In the west it is typically taken as a nutritional supplement.
3. Boost metabolism with Green tea
Green tea is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It contains nutrients called Catechins (such as ECGC) which boost metabolism and promote fat burning. For example, in one study men burned 17% more fat if they took a green tea extract before exercise (compared with men who didn’t take the supplement).
Green tea contains L-theanine, which reduces anxiety.
It is also a great source of antioxidants and studies suggest drinking more green tea may help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and memory problems…
The catechins in green tea help with blood flow. Increased blood flow to your brain can help maintain your memory. Increased blood flow to the nether regions could help boost sex drive. Not promising anything, but just saying….
The caffeine in green tea ALSO increases fat burning and decreases appetite because it affects hunger hormones. Black tea has more caffeine than green tea, but is is more processed and has less antioxidants and therefore less overall health benefits.
Here is some more good news – coffee works too!
Caffeine (whether in coffee or tea) is an appetite suppressant.
1 cup of green tea has about 40mg of caffeine, and 1 cup of coffee has about 95mg. The dose used for weight loss is about 200mg (2 cups of coffee or 5 cups of green tea). Too much caffeine is not a good thing, and not everyone tolerates caffeine the same due to variations in our genetics.
When consumed in excess, the ECGC in green tea can bind iron and reduce iron absorption. This is probably only really important for people with underlying digestive challenges who are already struggling to maintain their iron levels.
Excess caffeine has well known side effects, including jitteriness, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.
How much green tea is too much? Generally green tea is incredibly healthy and more is better. But probably best to limit to no more than 5 cups/day to avoid the extra caffeine.
How to take it:
Some of the important nutrients in green tea, such as ECGC and l-theanine, are available in capsules. I recommend just drinking the tea! You can add some lemon for flavor (and extra anti-oxidants), but probably best to skip the honey for now if you are trying to lose weight.
No pill can make up for an unhealthy diet. These suggestions are just to help you stick with your good intentions.
If you ARE sticking to healthy lifestyle habits and still not losing weight, there may be other issues preventing you from success. You may need a Functional Medicine evaluation to help resolve the problem.
Yours in Health!