What Is an Appetite Suppressant?

Hunger suppressants may help some dieters lose weight

hunger suppressant
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Appetite suppressants are drugs that work on the brain to "fool" it into thinking that it is not hungry. Appetite suppressants act primarily on the neurochemical transmitters of the central nervous system to reduce food intake. Prescription appetite suppressants may be used in addition to a healthful diet and increased physical activity to achieve and maintain significant weight loss and are intended for short-term use.

Some natural (non-prescription) products also claim to help suppress appetite to help you lose weight.

Also Known As: appetite depressants, hunger suppressant

Alternate Spellings: appetite-suppressant

Examples: Appetite suppressants cause users to feel less hungry by increasing brain chemicals that affect both mood and appetite.

What is an Appetite Suppressant?

Dieters often see appetite suppressants advertised in magazines or online. Generally, the word "appetite suppressant" refers to a prescription medication that helps you to feel less hungry so that you lose weight. But the term is also used by some herbal and natural diet pill makers to describe plant-based products that help curb hunger.

While appetite suppressants may help some dieters slim down, they may not work for everyone. There are many reasons that we eat too much, and hunger is just one of them. Appetite suppressants do not target emotional eating, mindless eating or sedentary behavior which are also commonly associated with overweight and obesity.

Medications That Curb Your Appetite

There are several FDA-approved medications for weight loss. Many of these diet pills are appetite suppressants and help promote weight loss by targeting hunger. These weight loss aids are available only with a prescription.

  • Phentermine is a commonly prescribed appetite suppressant in the United States. Phentermine is marketed under a long list of names, including Suprenza, Adipex-P, Kraftobese, and Tyramine. Phentermine's side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, sleeplessness, and nervousness.
  • Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate)  This medication helps to suppress appetite and reduce your food intake.  If you have a BMI over 30 or a body mass index of 27 and higher along with a weight-related condition, your doctor may prescribe this product. The medication needs to be taken along with lifestyle modifications for sustained weight loss.
  • Belviq (lorcaserin) This diet pill works by activating serotonin receptors that regulate hunger. By helping to control your appetite, Belviq may help you feel full after you've eaten less food.  It is available by prescription to patients with a BMI of 30 or a body mass index of 27 along with an obesity-related condition.
  • Saxenda (liraglutide [rDNA origin] injection) This injectable medication helps dieters to feel full sooner so that they eat less and lose weight. Saxena can be used by obese patients (a BMI of 30 or more) or by patients who have a BMI of 27 or more and a weight-related medical condition such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Contrave (naltrexone hydrochloride and bupropion hydrochloride) This weight loss medication affects the central nervous system to increase the number of calories you burn and reduce your appetite. The diet pill is prescribed along with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program to help people lose weight.

In addition to these diet pills, there are other prescription weight loss medications that may help you to lose weight. But they use different methods to promote weight loss.

Natural Appetite Suppressants

There are some products available online,  in health food stores, pharmacies and vitamin shops that claim to be natural appetite suppressants. Fiber, for example, helps you to feel full longer after you eat. For this reason, some fiber supplement makers call it a natural appetite suppressant. 

If you're considering a natural product to curb your hunger, be sure to gather all the facts before you buy. You may even want to talk to your physician or pharmacist before you buy. Some products are expensive and may not be as effective as you'd like them to be. 

*Edited by Malia Frey, About.com Weight Loss Expert

Sources:

Bray, GA. "Drug Insight: Appetitie Suppressants." Nature Clinical Practice. Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2005 Feb;2(2):89-95.

Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed: February 16, 2016. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/

Consumer Updates. Medications Target Long-Term Weight Control. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed: February 16, 2016. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm312380.htm

Medline Plus. Phentermine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed: February 16, 2016. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682187.html

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