What if you could take a pill that would curb your cravings for brownies, cookies, and ice cream? Yes, such a pill exists — and people are taking notice.
Read on to learn more about sugar craving pills, how they’re said to work, and whether they’re safe and effective.
Why do we want sugar?
There are clear, biological reasons why we all want sex from time to time. “Our bodies rely on glucose as an energy source to fuel our organs and nervous system. As such, we often crave sugar, which is a reliable source of glucose for the body,” says Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, a physician scientist in obesity medicine and professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard. Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Medical School.
Dr. Stanford explains that the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, influences why some of us crave sugar more than others.
Certain circumstances also influence whether people crave something sweet. “They may be tired and stressed, or they may be consuming a diet lacking in calories or essential micronutrients,” says Samar Yule, MS, R.D.N.
Other triggers for sugar cravings include low blood sugar, pregnancy, cravings and certain prescription medications, says Yule.
How do sugar craving pills work?
First, let’s talk about what these pills are made of. Several drugs and supplements, including neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor modulators (a long-winded name for a type of drug also known to reduce nicotine cravings) have been linked to reduced sugar cravings. But we’ll focus on the much more hyped — and slightly more researched — pills. Gymnema sylvestre.
The woody, climbing plant native to India, Africa and Australia is considered a “sugar destroyer” and not only curbs cravings for sweets, but actually changes the taste of sugary foods.
In fact, the gymnemic acid found in the leaves of the plant neutralizes the sweet taste so much that sugar is said to taste like sand, while the fruit tastes like an “acid bomb.”
“Many of these pills work by blocking the activation of sugar with specific receptors in the taste buds,” says Dr. Stanford. “This reduces cravings for sweet foods.”
Can you beat sugar cravings with a pill?
Technically, yes. Research indicates that pill making Gymnema sylvestre May reduce the sweetness and flavor of food. Pills to reduce sugar cravings can be a helpful tool for diabetics as well as those who want to lose weight.
“There is some evidence that changing perceptions of sweet foods can lead individuals to eat less, at least in the short term,” says Yule. “This reduction in calorie intake can lead to weight loss — at least theoretically — if it’s sustained over time.”
But there are caveats.
First: “The effect may only last 30 to 60 minutes,” says Yule. So a holiday meal with an entire dessert spread can prove challenging if you don’t time things right.
Second, research suggests that pills designed to reduce sugar cravings may have the opposite effect—in one study, participants craved more sugar when they lost their sensitivity to sweets.
And third, taking pills to curb your sugar cravings may not be the safest, most sustainable method.
Are Sugar Craving Pills Safe?
We’re not sure yet. “There is no long-term data on these pills, so I advise caution,” Dr. Stanford said
We know pills made from sugar cravings Gymnema sylvestre Should not be taken with certain medicines without doctor’s approval.
“Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid [these pills] Because of the limited safety data,” Yule said.
How to manage sugar cravings without pills
Sugar can actually be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. “The term carbohydrates includes natural sugars in fruits and dairy products,” says Yule, “and these can absolutely be part of a healthy diet.”
But the amount of sugar we eat should be limited. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that no more than 10 percent of our daily calories come from added sugars. Instead of focusing on changing the flavor of foods to reduce sugar cravings, Yule recommends sticking to foods with natural sugars when you’re craving something sweet.
It’s also a good idea to look at your diet as a whole. Yule says, “The best way to control all kinds of cravings is to make sure you eat regular and balanced meals.
This means incorporating whole foods that contain three key ingredients to keep you satisfied throughout the day. “Meals packed with protein, fiber, and water will help keep you full between meals so you’re less likely to reach for sugary foods,” says Yule. Keep a water bottle handy to stay well-hydrated so you can prevent your body from misinterpreting thirst signals for hunger.
Whether your goal is to get healthy or lose weight, the most sustainable combo you can count on is a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise—not a magic pill.