Guide to Appetite Suppressants
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Guide to Appetite Suppressants

woman saying no to unhealthy foodThe reason why people gain weight is simple; it is merely when an individual eats more calories than they typically burn within a day. While this is one of the simpler mathematical sums, you will encounter a lot of people struggle with the real world applications when incorporating this knowledge into their everyday lifestyles.

In this article, we will review how appetite suppressants work, where you can naturally find them and the side effects.

There are a number of factors that can affect this balance; however, such as sleep deprivation or general stress levels. It was inevitable that a whole category of diet products would be dedicated to decreasing the amount of calories an individual takes in, in the hope this will assist in weight loss. These products are called appetite suppressants and have become very popular in both the over the counter and prescription marketplaces. In fact, of the twelve prescription medications that have been certified by the FDA, ten medications are appetite suppressants.

How appetite suppressants work

All appetite suppressants, regardless of branding, function through their effect on two chemicals, which are serotonin and catecholamine. The vast majority of serotonin is located in the gut (90%) with the remaining 10% located along the central nervous system; this is the case for both human and animals. Serotonin has a variety of functions that it can perform such as assisting in memory and basic motor skills such as catching. It also has a major role to play in the effectiveness of antidepressant medication. The final function of serotonin is that it prompts vasoconstriction (temporary narrowing) of blood vessels, which allows blood to clot whereby making it a useful component of the wound healing process. As important as these functions are, they are not the reason serotonin is useful for weight loss.

The main functions of serotonin are the regulation of mood, appetite and sleep and the close interactions they share. Simply imagine a scenario where you have not got enough sleep, you would usually feel agitated or angry due to the reduced levels of serotonin that have been produced. Alternatively when you have just eaten a filling meal you usually feel content, this is due to the increased volume of food within the stomach whereby increasing serotonin production. This is why it is common to witness a person who is upset eating more then they usually would in an attempt to raise their serotonin levels. Appetite suppressants seek to artificially increase the levels of serotonin whereby tricking the individual into believing they are quite full and therefore they consume fewer calories over the period of a day than they usually would (Maletto et al, 2004). This is also, why some anti-depressant medication is often used for prescription weight loss as they function on the same principle of increasing serotonin.

Catecholamines are a group of hormones that undertake a variety of functions but the one we are particularly interested in is norepinephrine. This particular hormone is responsible for increasing feelings of alertness and is a key contributor to the rewards system of an individual (Astrup et al, 1990). The reward system is a name given to the release of certain hormones following an event that makes the individual feel good about themselves or what they have done and therefore their actions are reinforced by the brain. The reward system can act on both primal conditions (such as food intake or sexual contact) and conditions created by society such as money or a particular musical piece. This behaviour can be seen across the animal kingdom as in the form of aggression to assert dominance within a group or females grooming one another to increase their social standing. By taking appetite suppressants, you have the belief that you are doing something that is beneficial to you and therefore your catecholamine levels are increased whereby positively reinforcing your decision to eat less food or resist that extra snack.

Where can I find appetite suppressants naturally?

If you do not qualify for prescription appetite suppressants, and do not wish to be restricted by over the counter diet pills then there are plenty of foods, which have similar appetite suppressing properties that you can incorporate into your everyday diet. Following, is a brief list of foods, which have been associated with appetite suppressing properties, and a brief explanation of the benefits will be offered:

• Apples
• Oatmeal
• Pine nuts
• Soup
• Salad
• Dark chocolate
• Whey protein
• Celery

Red Apples appetite suppressantsSo let us begin with apples, this popular fruit contains high levels of pectin. This heteropolysaccharide plays a vital role in slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates, this means that it takes a longer period of time to completely digest an apple which keeps your appetite sustained and prevents you from eating something else (Serov et al, 1985). Oatmeal has similar properties to the apple; this is because oatmeal contains a large number of complex carbohydrates, which takes a long time for the body to digest hence making you feel fuller for longer. An additional benefit of oatmeal is that it lowers the level of ghrelin within the stomach, which would otherwise prompt a hunger response (Cummings et al, 2002). Pine nuts of all varieties contain an ingredient called pinolenic acid, which has been increasingly linked to weight loss in the focus of recent studies.

soups are useful appetite suppressantsSoup has long been associated with appetite suppression due to the high water content the majority of these types of food contain. This means that the calories it takes to process and expel the soup is very similar to the total calories the soup contains and therefore you aren’t really retaining any calories, it’s not quite a calorie deficit to the extent that celery is but it is still a good choice for calorie control. Salad is a great food choice providing you take care about what kind of dressing you decide to pair it with, salad itself is extremely high in fibre and so is a great appetite suppressant but there are plenty of high fat dressings or dressing that masquerade themselves as low in fat but may be high in sugars. You may be surprised to find that dark chocolate can also act as an appetite suppressant; this is because it can lower the levels of ghrelin. As explained earlier on in this section reducing the level of ghrelin will prevent a hunger response, although this isn’t an excuse to indulge in dark chocolate it does mean that you shouldn’t feel guilty to have some from time to time.

high protein food also an appetite suppressantNext on the list is whey protein, some people have the misconception that these supplement products or protein in general is solely the interest of bodybuilders. This is simply not the case, protein encourages the growth of muscle tissue and muscle tissue requires a larger amount of calories to function than it takes to store either fat or carbohydrates. Unless you are spending about five hours a week in the gym doing specific bodybuilding routines you will not become a massively muscled individual, this is especially true for women who fundamentally lack the testosterone needed to build muscle quickly or gain mass. Therefore, if you wish to lose weight then protein will play a vital part in your adventure. Celery is probably more known for the fact that it takes more calories to consume and digest than it actually contains. A stick of celery contains eight calories and has a very high water content meaning that eating it is essentially an exercise in itself.

What precautions should I take when using an appetite suppressant?

what precautions to take when taking appetite suppressantsBefore committing to a course of prescription appetite suppressants it is vital that you talk to your doctor and inform your doctor if you or close family members suffer from high blood pressure, over active thyroid, glaucoma, diabetes, kidney disease or emotional issues. Appetite suppressants can also prompt addictive behaviour in the form of addiction and so if you have suffered from addictive tendencies in the past then you may encounter similar problems with appetite suppressants. It is also very unlikely that your doctor will prescribe you with any such medication if you are pregnant. The above information is also vitally important when choosing an over the counter appetite suppressant as they could be more dangerous as they are unregulated and are easily accessible.

Appetite suppressants can also negatively interact with a number of medications for a variety of afflictions. If you are unfamiliar with any of the medical problems that will be mentioned then that probably means you don’t suffer from that particular ailment and you should be safe in your decision to take appetite suppressants. You should avoid appetite suppressants if: you are taking blood pressure related medication, MAO inhibitors (furazolidone, linezolid and phenelzine), other weight loss medications and stimulants that increase heart rate.

Side effects associated with appetite suppressants

appetite suppressant side effectsThe general aspect of all new diet products that consumers are interested in regardless of their origin (prescription or over the counter) are their associated side effects. It is taken for granted that the prescription appetite suppressants will be a more potent form of an over the counter counterpart as is the case with quite a few of the current prescription medications on offer. However, that does not mean that prescription medications are more hazardous to your health than over the counter alternatives. This is because all prescription medicines have to be rigorously tested and approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) whereas over the counter medications are not regulated by the FDA and are therefore not held accountable for any of their ingredients as long as they are not a banned ingredient in that country such as Edephra. Therefore, while prescription medications are more potent, the level of regulation may mean that over the counter appetite suppressants may be more dangerous in the long run.

If you want to learn more about prescription diet pills, we recommend you read our Best Prescription Diet Pills article.

This is not to say that appetite suppressants are particularly dangerous or hazardous to your health. It is granted that side effects may occur but they are less damaging than many other diet products such as fat inhibitors. In contrast to fat inhibitors, appetite suppressants prompt side effects, which should be easier to identify for both you and the people that you surround yourself with. Side effects can include an increase in sweat production, a lingering feeling of thirst, fatigue, cold like symptoms and increased levels of anxiety. The reason for the majority of these side effects is that you are simply taking on fewer nutrients and as such, less energy is produced making you feel tired. This feeling of hunger prompts a decrease in serotonin levels, which is why you feel more susceptible to illness and feel more anxious as you are not as full as you used to be (Abenhaim et al, 1996). While these side effects do not sound pleasant, they are a perfectly natural response to eating fewer calories, when you are used to doing a certain thing or following a certain routine, you will always react unfavourably to any changes that may occur. That being said, if you feel you are experiencing side effects that are serious then you should consult with your doctor.

It is a much more difficult task to identify the side effects of over the counter appetite suppressants as they all contain different ingredients, which are unregulated by the FDA, and as such, the side effects will vary from product to product. As a general rule, the majority of side effects will mimic those found in the prescription variants with a couple being unique to each product.

I have been prescribed an appetite suppressant, what happens next?

taking prescription appetite suppressantsYou doctor should describe all of this information when he/she gives you the prescription but these are the general rules which apply to the majority of appetite suppressants. The medication is best taken roughly an hour before meals when you have an empty stomach, this will mean you will feel fuller while also eating a lower calorie meal. Many appetite suppressants cannot be crushed and must be swallowed whole, if you have issues with swallowing pills, it is permissible to leave the pill in a glass of water in order to soften the exterior shell but always ensure that the pill remains intact. Appetite suppressants also act as a stimulant and so it may cause sleeping difficulties if taken late in the day. It is generally the case that you will be given a course of eight to twelve weeks, always ensure that you take the correct dosage per day and never take more than the prescribed dose.

How much do appetite suppressants cost?

The prices for over the counter appetite suppressants will obviously vary from product to product but through a bit of research we have been able to establish a typical range of prices that most appetite suppressants will fall into. You should expect products to fall between £20 and £30, this is the average price range we have found and you should feel comfortable buying a product within this price range. A quick search on Amazon returns 833 results and while many of these won’t be suitable, you will still have a very wide array of products to choose from. Appetite suppressants will also be stocked in your local health shops such as Holland and Barrett but the products will be similar if not identical to the ones you can find online.


This article has aimed to inform you about the appetite suppressant market as it plays a substantial role in dieting particularly within the prescription diet pill market. We first explored how exactly appetite suppressants work based on their interactions with serotonin and norepinephrine in order to make you feel fuller and less prone to hunger pains. If you do not feel like entering this type of market then we have supplied a very brief list of foods that have appetite suppressant properties and why this may be the case, it is hoped that you can use this information to find other foods that we haven’t discussed that you can incorporate into your diet. We have also covered various side effects that can occur and the precautions you can take in order to minimise the risk of these occurring. Directions for use have been outlined although this may change depending on the type of product you are taking and the circumstances surrounding your weight loss plans. The final topic covered was interested in the price of these supplements and we concluded that you should be looking to spend between £20 and £30 per month.

To find the best appetite suppressant for you, view our article on choosing the best appetite suppressant and view our list of best diet pills or use our diet pills comparison tool..


Maletto, P., & Maiullo, D. A. (2004). U.S. Patent Application 10/959,973.

Astrup, A., Andersen, T., Christensen, N. J., Bülow, J., Madsen, J., Breum, L., & Quaade, F. (1990). Impaired glucose-induced thermogenesis and arterial norepinephrine response persist after weight reduction in obese humans. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 51(3), 331-337.

Serov, A. V., Antonov, Y. A., & Tolstoguzov, V. B. (1985). Isolation of lactic whey proteins in the form of complexes with apple pectin. Food/Nahrung, 29(1), 19-30.

Cummings, D. E., Weigle, D. S., Frayo, R. S., Breen, P. A., Ma, M. K., Dellinger, E. P., & Purnell, J. Q. (2002). Plasma ghrelin levels after diet-induced weight loss or gastric bypass surgery. New England Journal of Medicine,346(21), 1623-1630.

Abenhaim, L., Moride, Y., Brenot, F., Rich, S., Benichou, J., Kurz, X., … & Bégaud, B. (1996). Appetite-suppressant drugs and the risk of primary pulmonary hypertension. New England Journal of Medicine, 335(9), 609-616.

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