Is it possible spinach reduces appetite and helps people lose weight? Thylakoids are compounds in spinach and other green vegetables. Various studies have documented green vegetable thylakoids act like a natural fat blocker, reduce cravings for chocolate, and may even help people lose weight? In this thylakoid review, you'll discover the research on these green vegetable extracts, their pros and cons, and the dosages used in clinical studies.
1 What Are Thylakoids?
Thylakoids are components of green vegetables, specifically chloroplasts. Chloroplasts play a vital role in photosynthesis, the process of generating the oxygen we breathe. Thylakoids are basically combinations of:
- proteins (over 100 different proteins!)
- omega 3 fats
- antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein,
- carotenoids (including β-carotene)
Besides their role in photosynthesis, thylakoids also appear to be a natural fat blocker and appetite suppressor.
2 What Foods Have Thylakoids?
Since they are found in green vegetables, foods rich in thylakoids include:
- collard greens
- lima beans
While many studies involve spinach extracts, as a rule, if the food is green, it contains thylakoids.
3 Thylakoids For Appetite Suppression
Several studies have documented thylakoids from green vegetables adjust the release of satiety hormones such as:
- Increasing leptin
- Decreasing ghrelin
- Increasing cholecystokinin (CCK)
- Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)
All these hormones play a role in hunger and the desire to eat. Let's look at the research.
Researchers in this study noted elevations in cholecystokinin (CCK) a hormone that helps us digest fats and proteins. Higher CCK levels also suppress appetite. In theory, elevated CCK levels may lead to fewer calories consumed. Potentially this might cause weight loss.
Researchers in Sweeden noted green vegetable thylakoids suppressed appetite for up to 4 hours when given to overweight women alongside a high carbohydrate meal. In that study, researchers used 3.7 to 7.4 grams, given at breakfast.
In another investigation, researchers gave 25 overweight women 5 grams of spinach thylakoids or a placebo. The supplement used was called Appethyl. Results revealed women taking the spinach extract experienced:
- 21% less hunger
- 36% fewer in cravings for sweets and snacks
- 30% reduced cravings for salty foods
- 28% reduced cravings of sweets
- 14% improved feelings of satiety (feeling full)
Weight loss was not measured since the study only lasted 2 days. Appethyl, the spinach supplement used in this study is made by the Swedish company Greenleaf Medical AB, located in Stockholm Sweeden. The Greenleaf medical company supports research on its supplement and holds a patent on it too.
In a review of 8 previous studies of spinach thylakoids and appetite suppression, researchers concluded the effects appear to be true. Spinach extracts seem to reduce appetite.
Here's a quick video I made to help you understand whats going on
Watch on my youtube channel if you prefer.
4 Do Thylakoids Aid Weight Loss?
Maybe. Let's look at the evidence.
In one investigation, researchers gave 5 grams of thylakoids before breakfast for 3 months. The average weight loss was greater in those taking the supplement than people who did not take the supplement. Over the course of 3 months, taking thylakoids lost about 11 pounds. For those eating 3 meals a day, it was about 8 pounds. In addition, those taking the supplement also had:
- fewer urges to eat sweets and chocolate
- higher GLP-1 levels (this improves satiety)
- lower total cholesterol
- lower bad cholesterol (LDL)
One oddity however was that neither waist circumference nor body fat was different between the groups.
In another study, women were given 5 grams of spinach thylakoids for 3 months along with a low-calorie diet. Compared to women who only ate the diet, those taking thylakoids lost double the body weight. Women cutting calories while taking 5 grams of thylakoids lost about 13 pounds while those who just ate fewer calories lost about 6 pounds.
Based on these investigations, thylakoid spinach extracts might help you lose anywhere from about 3 to 7 pounds more than diet alone over the course of 3 months. If thylakoids are combined with eating fewer calories, the weight loss effects appear magnified.
5 Can Thylakoids Help Diabetes?
While on the surface, it would appear likely thylakoids would reduce diabetes risk factors, more research is needed. Some studies have noted lower blood sugar and insulin levels, but others have shown no change in insulin, even after 3 months of use. That said, if spinach extracts promote weight loss, then it should help type II diabetes as well as fatty liver disease (NALFD). The longest research studies have lasted 3 months. This may not be enough time to see reductions in hemoglobin A1C (Hb A1C) levels.
6 Best Thylakod Dosage?
Researchers have used 3.7 to 7.4 grams of spinach thylakoids per day. Several studies have used 5 grams per day. In at least one study, researchers gave people 2.5 ounces of boiled spinach. Based on this, the sweet spot might around 5 grams a day of thylakoids or 2.5 oz (about 1/3rd of a cup) of boiled spinach.
7 How Do You Use It?
You can mix powdered thylakoids in yogurt, oatmeal, juice, or smoothies. Some online testimonials have mentioned the taste of some supplements is not good. So if using a supplement you may want to avoid mixing it with just water. If you don't like the taste, there is also a berry–flavor thylakoid supplement too.
8 How Do Thylakods Work?
Animal research suggests they might increase the microbiome's production of short-chain fatty acids which, in turn, can improve satiety and blood sugar levels. Other studies also have documented changes in hunger hormones like CCK, leptin, and ghrelin.
There is evidence thylakoids raise GLP1 levels. It's thought this might lead to decreased fat breakdown. Because fats improve satiety, the longer it takes to break down fats, the longer we feel full.
9 Do They Block Fats?
Thylakoids appear to be natural fat blockers without the side effects. Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down fats. Fat blocker drugs like orlistat prevent the lipase enzyme from breaking down fats. If we can't absorb fats, we can't absorb their calories. This prevents us from gaining weight. As a downside, fat blocker drugs like orlistat also cause excess fat excretion (steatorrhea), leading to loose and oily stools. While thylakoids also block fat absorption, they do not appear to cause steatorrhea as prescription medications do.
10 Do They Work In Both Men and Women?
Most investigations have involved overweight women. However, in other studies, researchers recruited men. Thylakoid clinical studies involving men have noted changes in hunger hormones (CCK, leptin, ghrelin) but none so far have lasted long enough to see if weight loss occurred. In theory, green vegetable extracts should work similarly in both men and women although it will take better studies to know for certain.
11 Thylakoid Supplements
One supplement that has been clinically studied is called Appethyl. At least 2 human clinical trials have documented Appethyl can:
- reduce appetite
- promote weight loss
compared to a placebo. Based on the research, this is the supplement I suggest.
The amount used in human trials is 5 grams a day. In one study 3.7 and 7.4 grams were used.
Appethyl seems to work by:
- blocking fat absorption
- altering hunger hormones like CCK and ghrelin and leptin
- improving gut microbiome
To quote a portion of the US patent, “We have found a natural compound (thylakoids) of high nutritive value that retards fat digestion, suppresses appetite by increasing satiety hormones and decreases serum triglyceride levels.”
12 Who Makes This Stuff?
Appethyl is made by Greenleaf Medical AB, located in Stockholm Sweeden. Appethyl is a patented supplement (Patent # 8642098B2). While Greenleaf is located in Sweeden, they partner with FutureCeuticals, a US-based supplement manufacturing company to produce the supplement in America. The Greenleaf Medical company conducts and supports research on their supplements. While some may feel this represents a conflict of interest, it is rare when a company invests time and money to study a supplement they make.
There are also many quality spinach supplements on the market made by other companies. They come in both capsules and powders. While it is possible these other products may work as well as Appethyl, it will take clinical studies to know for certain.
13 Thylakoid Side Effects
Human clinical studies reveal no serious side effects. Green vegetable thylakoids have not been shown to carry the same precautions as controversial weight loss supplements like Garcinia Cambogia. If you're considering green extract supplements, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- Thylakoids slow down gastric emptying. This may be a problem if you had gastric bypass surgery.
- Diabetics speak to your doctor
- Take fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D & K) at a different time than thylakoid supplements
- Ask your doctor if you take any medications including blood thinners
- Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding
- Stop taking at least 2 weeks before surgery
14 Pros and Cons
|Human clinical studies exist||Most studies are small|
|Seems to reduce appetite/cravings||Most studies involve women|
|One supplement is patented||Weight loss may be modest|
|Inexpensive||Longer duration studies needed|
|Not much is needed|
|No serious side effects reported|
15 Do Thylakoids Work?
Several human studies appear to demonstrate that spinach thylakoids can reduce appetite. Some researchers have also observed weight loss too although I'd like to see a couple more studies to know for sure. Weight loss appears greatest when people also eat fewer calories. Let's remember weight loss is complicated and clinical trials may not reflect how people eat in real life. While more research is needed, given the low cost of supplements like Appethyl this may be something worth taking a look at.
Here it is on Amazon if you want to check it out.
Frank smith says
Thank you Theresa
ANOTHER reason to eat spinach! Thanks Joe this was fantastic!
Joe Cannon says
Thanks Bob 🙂
Angela Taylor says
Hi Joe, This is very cool info – thanks for researching and sharing!
Joe Cannon says
Thanks, Angela! This was a fun and interesting topic to review 🙂
I also had no idea about spinach reduceing appetite. joe How do you find all this stuff out?
Joe Cannon says
Bec, I must admit this was something new for me too. I came across the research while writing the spinach review.
Joe, wow! I never heard of thylakiods before reading this. Thank you SO much. I love spinach but dont eat it every day. I Just purchased the supplement you recommended. Hopefully it curbs my halloween candy cravings 🙂
Joe Cannon says
Kelly, thanks so much and do let me know what happens at Halloween 🙂