When it comes to shredding those few extra pounds, you’ve probably looked into a number of strategies, including eating a balanced diet and getting enough regular exercise. But according to research, the scents you smell on a daily basis could also make a huge difference when it comes to weight loss.
A study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgery had over 3,000 overweight participants smell different blends of scents through inhalers over the course of six months whenever they felt hungry. The goal was to see if doing so was able to curb cravings and suppress their appetites. What scientists found was that during that half-year trial, those subjects who were regularly using their inhalers lost an average of five pounds, or two percent of their body weight, per month — and they maintained that amount of weight loss over the entire study. Out of all of the different scents tested, apple and mint ones were considered the most effective.
What’s the connection between smells, appetite, and weight loss? Certain scents trigger the olfactory bulb, an organ that transmits signals from the nose to the brain to signal fullness. Once your brain gets those messages, it releases hormones throughout your body that signal to stop eating. In other words, scents suppress our appetite in this roundabout way, which in turn makes us less hungry and less likely to overeat. There’s other promising new research that hypothesizes that scents may also affect weight loss by regulating fat storage and maintaining a healthy metabolic rate, though scientists are still looking into to see if that connection is due to similar mechanisms.
And why are scents like apple and mint so effective? Researchers are still piecing that together, but they believe that these stronger and more aromatic scents trigger specific neurological and hormonal reactions of satiety. Additionally, scents like banana, strawberry, raspberry, garlic, onion, and cocoa may be similarly strong and therefore effective at sending those “I’m full!” signals to your brain. This can be as simple as smelling essential oils or running them through a defuser when hungry. You could also think about using products that naturally have these scents throughout the day — such as using a minty shampoo.
While scents alone won’t necessarily help you lose weight or sustain any weight loss for the long term, it’s good to know that just a little sniff could make a difference!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.