Reducing hunger, weight and sugar cravings with green gold

An all-natural, patented spinach extract, Appethyl, reduces hunger while also decreasing cravings for unhealthy foods and enhancing weight loss

What started as a discussion over a cup of tea one morning between a husband and a wife, both professors at the University of Lund, has now turned into a clinically validated and patented appetite suppressant.

The product, Appethyl, is distributed exclusively worldwide by the Stockholm-based company, Greenleaf Medical (GLM), which has licensed the patent rights from the University of Lund for this appetite and craving suppressing product that comes from one of the healthiest foods in the world: spinach.

Unique amongst such products, not only does the all-natural spinach extract reduce hunger, it also decreases cravings for unhealthy foods. In fact, in one study, the ingestion of Appethyl reduced cravings for sweets and chocolates by up to 85% after just one dose, and up to 95% after ingesting the product daily for 3 months. Additionally, those in the study consuming Appethyl also lost 43% more weight than the control group.

How does it work?

Appethyl works to reduce hunger, cravings and weight by increasing certain satiety (or fullness) hormones. More specifically, the active substance in Appethyl, thylakoids, which are the photosynthetic components found inside spinach cells, increase the body’s primary satiety hormone, known as CCK, as well as another key hormone, GLP-1, which may be the one helping to reduce cravings in particular.

How these spinach thylakoids do this is by temporarily inhibiting the digestion of fat for about 2 hours, resulting in more fatty acids being transported further down the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Practically speaking, it helps to make a smaller meal feel more like a bigger one, which, in turn, helps the consumer to feel fuller for longer.

As demonstrated in three acute trials, the beneficial hunger and craving reduction effects of Appethyl occurred after ingesting just one dose. But why not just eat more spinach? It’s important to realise that the effects seen with the ingestion of Appethyl cannot be applied to eating regular spinach; the product is manufactured via a patented process. The reason is that the product is ‘bioactive’ from the moment it is ingested compared with regular spinach, which needs to be digested. As a result, by the time it is digested, it’s too late to affect hunger and cravings. That’s why this patented spinach extract (US Patent 8,642,098), developed by researchers at the University of Lund, is able to do what regular spinach can’t.

Clinically effective

For those who want to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, the results of these clinical trials is great news. Greenleaf Medical has initiated the following studies: eight clinical trials (all eight showed positive and beneficial effects); five efficacy clinical trials (all five showed positive and beneficial effects); six published clinical trials; and six animal trials (all six showed positive and beneficial effects and all are published).

The most important research that supports this product is the efficacy trial data, which shows whether the product really works or not. Summarising these five efficacy trials, Appethyl has been shown to have the following three effects:

  • Appethyl significantly reduces hunger, even after just one dose (as found in all three acute, crossover trials, all using a 5g dose or less)
  • Appethyl significantly reduces cravings for unhealthy food, such as sweets, chocolate and/or salty foods, and even more so than reducing hunger
  • Appethyl produces significant weight loss (as found in both clinical trials using a 5g/d dose).

Hunger reduction

In summarising the three controlled, acute, crossover clinical trials, Appethyl was found to reduce hunger by approximately 20–25%, an effect that can last for up to 6 hours after a single dose.1-3 Two of these trials used a 5g dose whereas the third found no difference between a 3.7 or a 7.4g dose; both equally reduced hunger by 25% (post-hoc analysis), while also reducing the effect of thinking about food — which can be a quite important effect for some — by 34%.

All three studies involved crossover trials, which means that each person serves as their own control, and is the most effective way to evaluate the true efficacy of a product. In each trial, Appethyl was shown to helping with appetite control, which clearly shows the potential of this ingredient to help those who struggle to comply with a diet regime because they are too hungry or too tempted by foods that they know that they shouldn’t be eating.

Reduced cravings

What makes Appethyl truly unique is its effect on appetite; that is, its ability to reduce cravings for unhealthy foods even more significantly than it reduces hunger. One 3-month clinical trial found that when subjects ingested 5g of Appethyl once daily at breakfast, their cravings for sweets and chocolates were reduced by 85% compared with those ingesting a placebo — an effect observed after ingesting the first dose.4 What is arguably even more impressive is that these same cravings were reduced up to 95% after taking the product every day for 3 months, which clearly shows that the product continues to work — and work well — with time.

As with all biological research, no two studies end up with the same results. Thus, not all of the clinical trials found a 95% reduction in cravings. The most recently published clinical trial provides another look at the effects of Appethyl on both hunger and cravings.1 This study, involving 22 middle-aged women (average 54.5 years) who, despite being either of normal weight or overweight, had one thing in common: they craved certain foods. As the researchers wanted to see if Appethyl worked in these individuals, the subjects were given either a drink that contained the patented spinach extract or a control drink (placebo) at two different times in a crossover study.

Compared with when the women ingested the placebo, the ingestion of one 5g of Appethyl resulted in the following statistically significant effects: 21% less hunger (along with a 14% increase in satiety); 36% less cravings for unhealthy foods, including sweets (38%), chocolates (36%), salty snacks (30%); and a 28% reduction in subjective ‘liking’ for sweets.

The results of this study further support Appethyl’s effect on reducing hunger, and reducing cravings even more, which makes this patented spinach extract unique amongst the currently available appetite suppressing products.

Different kinds of hunger

This more significant effect on reducing cravings compared with just hunger points to the fact that there are two different types of hunger: homeostatic and hedonic. Homeostatic is the hunger that you feel when there is a physiological need for energy (or calories), when you haven’t eaten for a while, whereas hedonic hunger is the craving (compared with an actual need) you have for great tasting foods (which tend to be high in sugar, fat and/or calories).

Sadly, research has shown that when these hedonic centres are stimulated by eating such foods, they actually increase in intensity — instead of being satisfied — making it even more difficult to resist them. Thus, anything that helps to reduce such hedonic cues would be very much welcomed by those struggling with such cravings, and Appethyl appears to do just that.

Does Appethyl induce weight loss?

As with any appetite suppressant, the proof is in the pudding. Does the product induce significant weight loss? The answer lies in two separate clinical trials, both of which found that ingesting 5g daily of Appethyl produced significantly greater weight loss than those ingesting a placebo. More specifically, ingesting 5g of Appethyl once daily with breakfast resulted in a 43% greater weight loss in one study (11 compared with 7.7lb, respectively, p<0.01).4 Ingesting 2.5g twice daily (with breakfast and lunch) resulted in a 51% greater weight loss in the second and larger 200 subject study (6.12 compared with. 4.05lb, respectively, p=0.011).5

Body fat losses were also greater in those ingesting Appethyl, along with losses in waist circumference (86% greater when compared with the placebo group). In fact, in this latter, yet to be published clinical trial, Appethyl produced a 71% greater weight loss in those who took the product as it was intended; that is, on a daily basis, (6.75 compared with 3.96lb, p=0.006). As with every clinical trial, not everyone takes the product the way they are instructed to.

In the same trial, the degree of weight loss resulting from Appethyl ingestion met one of the two definitions set forth by the US FDA for a successful weight loss drug.5 More specifically, the FDA states that more than a third of the subjects must lose at least 5% of their original body weight, and that this percentage must be at least twice that seen in the placebo group, and this difference must be statistically significant. Appethyl met all of these criteria with 35.4% of the subjects losing 5% of their original body weight, which was more than twice that of the placebo group (16.3%), and was statistically significant (p=0.007).

Additional scientific support

Three additional clinical trials show similar efficacies, with two being considered to be more proof-of-concept trials and, as such, not included as efficacy trials.6,7 The third included a 5.6g dose and therefore cannot be used to support the 5g dose that the company recommends.8 This study did find a reduction in hunger in the Appethyl group after 8 weeks (compared with baseline), along with numerous significant metabolic effects, such as reductions in HbA1c as well as much greater reductions in plasma leptin levels (50% versus 32%), with leptin being reflective of body fat levels with time.

In addition, there are six animal trials, all of which support the beneficial effects seen with Appethyl. More specifically, these animal trials found reductions in food intake, enhanced weight loss and fat loss, reductions in blood glucose and blood insulin (two effects also seen in human trials), while also exerting a beneficial effect on gut flora: an effect that is gaining a significant amount of attention.

Summary

The all-natural, patented spinach extract, Appethyl, is a unique appetite suppressant with significant clinical data demonstrating its beneficial effects, including significantly reducing hunger and cravings as well as enhancing weight loss. As summarised in the words of Dr Frank Greenway, lead researcher behind the most recently published clinical trial: 'I believe that the thylakoid-rich extract Appethyl is special, as it’s a safe food made from spinach that decreases hunger and decreases the desire for salt, qualities beneficial for people trying to maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.'3 Dr Greenway is one of the world’s leading obesity researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA) and is a notable authority in the field of weight management.

References

1. E-L. Stenblom, et al., 'Consumption of Thylakoid-Rich Spinach Extract Reduces Hunger, Increases Satiety and Reduces Cravings for Palatable Foods in Overweight Women,' Appetite 91, 209–219 (2015).

2. E-L. Stenblom, et al., 'Supplementation by Thylakoids to a High Carbohydrate Meal Decreases Feelings of Hunger, Elevates CCK Levels and Prevents Postprandial Hypoglycaemia in Overweight Women,' Appetite 68, 118–123 (2013).

3. C. Rebello, et al., 'Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety and Food Intake: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial,' J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 1–8 Epub (2015).

4. C. Montelius, et al., Body Weight Loss, Reduced Urge for Palatable Food and Increased Release of GLP-1 Through Daily Supplementation with Green-Plant Membranes for Three Months in Overweight Women,' Appetite 81, 295–304 (2014).

5. J. Gruenwald and M. Miller, 'Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Multicentric Study to Evaluate the Benefit and Tolerability of Thylakoids in Reducing Body Weight in Overweight and Obese Subjects (Unpublished).

6. R. Kohnke, et al., 'Thylakoids Promote Release of the Satiety Hormone Cholecystokinin While Reducing Insulin in Healthy Humans,' Scand. J. Gastroenterol. 44, 712–719 (2009).

7. K. Gustaffson, et al., 'Gastrointestinal Satiety Through Green Leave Components Called Thylakoids,' poster presentation at the European Congress on Obesity (Istanbul, Turkey, 25–28 May 2011).

8. E-L. Stenblom, et al., 'Decreased Urge for Palatable Food After a Two-Month Dietary Intervention with Green-Plant Membranes in Overweight Women,' J. Obese Weight Loss Ther. 4, 1–8 (2014).