The April 19 episode of "Dr. Oz" inspired me to take a closer look at a very popular weight loss product: appetite suppressants.
What do they do?
Appetite suppressants are classified as anorectics. These types of drugs make you feel full so you don't feel the need to eat more. Appetite suppressants work within the brain, in the hypothalamus, to increase your levels of serotonin or catecholamine (norepinephrine), the chemicals in the brain that affect your mood and appetite. It's a simple mind trick: If you already feel full, you won't eat, and when you don't eat, you lose weight.
Natural Options for Fighting Cravings
There are also several herbal and food-based ingredients that can act as appetite suppressants to help you lose weight, available on their own or added to other supplements:
Consuming caffeine in a supplement or a drink like coffee or tea can help you feel more full, helping you eat less. The feeling lasts as long as the other effects of caffeine, such as increased alertness.
Apple cider vinegar:
The enzymes in this vinegar not only help you feel full, but they also block the absorption of fat to help you lose weight.
This oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, that your body can burn immediately for energy. Taken before meals, coconut oil helps you feel full so you don't overeat. Trainer Chris Powell suggested mixing two teaspoons with one and a half cups of warm water and drinking 30 minutes before a meal.
This root contains forskoliin, a phytonutrient that can help control appetite and promotes the development of lean muscle mass.
The capsaicin in cayenne pepper, which also gives the pepper its heat, can help control your appetite so you consume fewer calories. Cayenne also helps your body generate heat for burning fat.
Derived from the leaves of the Ephedra sinica plant, this herb is a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for controlling appetite, boosting energy and promoting weight loss.
The magic pill?
Dr. Oz was taking a look at a new weight loss pill, Qnexa, that is set for release by July. Currently under evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Qnexa combines two powerful drugs: phentermine, an appetite suppressant, and topiramate, an anticonvulsant. Combined, they are said to change the sensation and taste of eating certain foods so they become less desirable while reducing cravings. This drug is still undergoing testing, and is only recommended for individuals who are at least 25 pounds overweight with health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Are they safe?
Appetite suppressants are available in prescription or over-the-counter formulas. They work best when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Follow dosing instructions carefully and pay attention to how you feel on them. Pregnant women shouldn't take appetite suppressants and anyone with an existing medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease should speak with their doctor before using them.