While vitamin and mineral supplements may not be the first thing you think of when dieting, certain essential micronutrients can be useful as hunger suppressants. Their satiating properties mean you can even use certain minerals and vitamins for weight loss.
A few different vitamins and minerals can help suppress your appetite. These nutrients work as hunger suppressants, making you feel full faster and increasing the likelihood that you’ll eat smaller meals.
Healthy Weight Loss Strategies
People who are trying to lose weight usually use one of two different strategies: calorie restriction or exercise. These strategies are also used in combination, which works best.
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Calorie restriction is a fairly easy way for many people to lose weight, because most people ingest around 2,000 calories per day. According to Harvard Health, it's safe for women to consume as little as 1,200 calories per day, while men can safely consume as few as 1,500 calories per day. Reducing daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories can be a healthy way to lose between a pound and 2 pounds each week.
However, some people already consume a fairly low amount of calories. For instance, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the consumption of as little as 1,600 calories per day for sedentary adult women. If you're already consuming a fairly low amount of calories, reducing your calorie intake further may not be the healthiest choice. Too few calories may prevent you from consuming the essential nutrients you need to stay healthy.
In such cases, adding more physical activity to your day-to-day routine can provide you with an alternative method of losing weight. However, keep in mind that calories still matter. If you suddenly become very physically active, you may also be hungrier than normal. It's important to remember that adding exercise to your diet won't help you lose weight if you're simultaneously increasing your calorie intake. You need to burn more calories than you consume.
Of course, this can be pretty challenging because of one main issue: hunger. Satiety, also known as the feeling of fullness, is a major issue for people trying to lose weight. Fortunately, certain healthy nutrient supplements can work as hunger suppressants that can support your weight loss goals.
Nutrients as Hunger Suppressants
According to a March 2015 review in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, there are several minerals and vitamins that can suppress your appetite. However, human studies on this subject are limited.
For example, this review reported that obese women trying to lose weight experienced increased satiety when they took multivitamin supplements. These pills essentially worked as multivitamin appetite suppressants. However, it is not known which vitamins and minerals in these multivitamins worked in the regulation of food intake. The exact mechanism of action that made these pills work as multivitamin appetite suppressants is also not very well understood.
Calcium is a mineral that is also thought to work as a hunger suppressant. This same review also reported that the people who took calcium and vitamin D were able to lose four times as much weight compared to those not taking these supplements. However, this study particularly assessed obese adults who were found to be deficient in calcium.
Vitamin D was a relevant component in the reported study because it helps your body absorb calcium. Notably, this nutrient plays other roles in relation to your weight and body fat content.
A January 2017 study in the_ Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology_ and a June 2014 study in the Central European Journal of Immunology reported that vitamin D plays a major role in the health of your body's adipose tissue. Obesity is often associated with vitamin D deficiency; lower vitamin D levels have also been linked to reduced insulin sensitivity. This issue has been associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Macronutrients, rather than micronutrients, are more well-established as hunger suppressants. The review in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism reported that soluble and insoluble fiber both work as hunger suppressants.
Certain amino acids, which are easily found in protein-rich foods, are also good hunger suppressants. In fact, this review stated that protein is the most satiating macronutrient you can consume, followed by carbohydrates and then fat.
Satiating Diets and Weight Loss
In addition to using minerals and vitamins for weight loss, you can also incorporate filling foods into your diet. A small August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition reported that a variety of foods are satiating and can help support weight loss. These include:
- Protein-rich foods
- Foods rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Foods rich in dietary fiber
- Calcium-rich foods
- Foods containing capsaicinoids (which makes foods, like red chili, spicy)
In this study, obese men were encouraged to consume a diet rich in these foods. This was referred to as a satiating diet and contained macronutrient ratios of 30 to 35 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent protein and 45 to 50 percent carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate content needed to primarily come from unprocessed foods with a low glycemic index. Daily carbohydrate content also needed to incorporate over 25 grams of dietary fiber (more than the recommended daily value). Fat content had to primarily come from healthy unsaturated fats and not saturated or trans fats. This diet was also rich in essential micronutrients (particularly calcium).
Because these foods are so filling, the people following this diet could consume them freely. However, it's important to note that participants in this study still consumed no more than 2,000 calories per day.
After 16 weeks, men following this diet lost between 2 and 3 percent of their body fat. In comparison, men following a standard diet (with more typical macronutrient ratios of 10 to 15 percent protein, 55 to 60 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat) only lost 1.1 to 1.3 percent of their body fat.
People following a standard diet were also more likely to stop dieting before the end of the 16-week period compared to people consuming the satiating diet's foods.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Participant Guide: Burn More Calories Than You Take In"
- Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism: "Nutrients, Satiety, and Control of Energy Intake"
- Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: "Physiological Functions of Vitamin D in Adipose Tissue"
- Central European Journal of Immunology: "Obesity, Adipose Tissue Function and the Role of Vitamin D"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Impact of a Non-Restrictive Satiating Diet on Anthropometrics, Satiety Responsiveness and Eating Behaviour Traits in Obese Men Displaying a High or a Low Satiety Phenotype"
- Food and Drug Administration: "Dietary Fiber"