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Supplements That Increase Appetite

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Supplements That Increase Appetite
If you can't eat enough, you won't gain weight. Photo Credit: TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images

Appetite-stimulating supplements are most commonly used by athletes looking to put on weight. The bulking phase requires you to substantially increase your calorie intake to put on the desired mass. If you're not used to the higher calorie intake, you may have trouble eating enough to gain weight. Various appetite-boosting supplements are available to help you eat more so you get the calories you need to bulk up.

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Plum Extract

Take plum extract 30 minutes before meals to stimulate your appetite, recommends Kane Woods, author of "Bodybuilding Nutrition." Plum, or Prunus domestica, extract is a common ingredient in appetite-boosting supplements. It contains a plant hormone similar to the appetite-stimulating hormone the body produces called ghrelin, according to a study published in the July 2006 issue of the journal Peptide. Scientists previously thought only animals produced ghrelin, so this is a significant finding.

Echinacea Alkylamides

Cannabinoids, the active substances in cannabis, are known to stimulate appetite, and cannabis isn't the only plant that contains them. Scientists have found that the echinacea plant contains cannabinoid-like substances called alkylamides, according to a study published in the May 2006 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. While researchers are more interested in potential health benefits such as immune boosting, supplement manufacturers have wasted no time making echinacea alkylamides a main ingredient in their appetite-boosting formulas. Look for echinacea extract or a formula with alkylamides from echinacea in the ingredient list.

Fish Oil

You don't have to take fancy supplements to boost your appetite. You can get the job done with fish oil, according to Woods. While the study size was small -- 20 volunteers -- there is evidence to support this. Participants took a fish oil supplement before breakfast, and researchers found it increased appetite in both males and females. As a result of the appetite-increasing effect, females exhibited a desire to eat more.

Supplement Safety

Side effects from taking appetite stimulating supplements have not been well-documented. Woods recommends starting with half of the recommended dose listed on the supplement label. Since supplements affect people differently, this gives you the opportunity to assess your tolerance. Take these supplements under the guidance of a sports nutrition professional. If you find that a supplement is too potent at stimulating your appetite, work with your sports nutritionist to adjust your dose. If you experience bothersome side effects that don't go away, discontinue use.

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