Appetite Suppressants and Hunger Pangs

For those whose weight gain is caused by overeating (other causes of weight gain), appetite suppressants are an effective way to stop those hunger pangs that lure us to eat.  Hunger pangs are difficult to ignore, especially when they produce noisy rumblings in the stomach.  Hunger pangs are experienced in the stomach, but are generated inside the brain. When the stomach is empty it releases the hormone ghrelin which travels through the bloodstream to the brain, specifically to the hypothalamus which controls appetite. The hypothalamus reacts by triggering those hunger pangs which are so hard to ignore. So we eat.

To suppress the appetite, you want to keep levels of ghrelin low so you can keep hunger pangs away.

The body produces its own anti-appetite hormones to curb hunger pangs and cravings. The gastrointestinal tract contains cells which register the contents of the food we consume, particularly protein, fats and carbohydrates. These cells then produce anti-appetite hormones that travel through the blood to alert the brain to shut off the hunger pangs. At the same time the brain is receiving messages from other appetite-suppressing hormones, such as insulin.

Much of the success of these anti-appetite hormones depends on what you eat to satisfy the hunger pangs. Eating high protein foods induces a stronger anti-appetite hormone response. Foods with a low glycemic index also help curb appetite. Examples are sweet potatoes and leafy greens which break down slowly and reduce glucose naturally. On the other hand, high glycemic index foods release a rush of glucose, sending insulin levels soaring. High glycemic foods include donuts, bagels, french fries and many more. Half an hour later when the insulin levels drop, the brain detects the sudden fall and makes you crave more food.

You don’t always eat what you should and the body’s anti-appetite mechanisms don’t always function optimally. For these reasons, appetite suppressants – either natural or prescription – have a role in our Medical Weight Loss program. Our physician may prescribe Phentermine which decreases appetite and stimulates the body to burn calories more quickly. It works by stimulating the adrenal glands to release norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters increase feelings of fullness, minimizing hunger and reducing cravings. In our practice, it is the appetite suppressant of choice for those who are overweight with a body mass index greater than 30.

For patients who are contraindicated for Phentermine or who prefer natural appetite suppressants, other options are available.

Educating you about food and good nutrition is an important part of our program because our goal is long-term, maintainable weight loss for every patient. You will learn how to incorporate into your diet foods that are natural appetite suppressants, such as pinenuts (among many others) which stimulate the release of anti-appetite hormones in the body. We believe that the more you know about how your body works, and understand your mind’s relationship to food, the smarter you’ll be when it comes to getting thinner and staying there.