Before you reach for a box of pills, consider the risks of taking supplements to stop cravings. Sometimes your cravings get the best of you, and you think that taking a supplement to stop them is your only option. Think again: taking over-the-counter appetite suppressants runs far greater risks than rewards.
1. Yo-Yo Weight Loss
Craving control supplements, also known as appetite suppressants, help diminish your hunger by increasing your feeling of satiety. They also increase your serotonin levels, which are hormones that affect your mood and appetite. They make you hungry less often and provide you with a feeling of fullness when eating less food.
Most supplements approved to help stop cravings will realistically only help you to lose 5 to 20 pounds if taken correctly for the provided time frame. However, many users of these supplements gain back the weight they lost after stopping the supplements. Some studies report that those taking the supplements actually gain more weight back than what they initially weighed.
2. Nervous Side Effects
When taking appetite suppressants, they can have the same chemical effects on the brain as amphetamines. You may experience nervousness, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, sleeplessness and waking during the night. If you take medication for heart disease or high blood pressure, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any type of appetite suppressant.
3. Supplements Not FDA Regulated
The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, including those sold to stop cravings. This means that manufacturers do not need the FDA’s approval to market and sell their products. This poses a problem on many levels. Manufacturers can add ingredients not listed, make false claims as to how their products work and even sell products with little to no scientific proof backing their efficiency.
4. Dangers Newly Discovered
Many drugs that we thought were safe are often later found harmful with further studies. Recently, the FDA added the risk of liver damage to the popular over-the-counter weight loss drug Alli. At least 13 reports of liver failure have been linked to long-term use of Alli, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
The Bottom Line
Cravings for foods can easily be regulated by dietary changes. Often when we deprive ourselves of certain foods, cravings kick in and we end up overindulging on unhealthy foods. Eating a balanced diet of whole foods including lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats will satisfy cravings for all food groups.
Remember to indulge in small amounts. A good rule to reduce cravings is to live by the 90/10 idea. This means that you eat clean, healthy foods 90% of the time, and allow small indulgences with 10% of your diet.
You can also control your cravings by eating a diet rich with fiber. Fiber gives you the feeling of fullness and slows the absorption of food. Consume plenty of sprouted grains, oats, green veggies and other fibrous foods. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will also keep you feeling full and flush out toxins from your body.