Can spicing up your food with hot peppers really help you lose weight?
With capsaicin as your spice of choice, it just might! Capsaicin is the chemical found in peppers that makes them taste hot. The more capsaicin in a pepper, the hotter it is said to taste. This chemical is actually created by pepper plants to discourage mammals from eating them. Most mammals don't enjoy the spicy taste, but if you do, you're in luck. (and even if you don't like to turn up the heat, you can still benefit...just read on)
Capsaicin has been the focus of several recent studies in Taiwan and the Netherlands. It isn't surprising to find the pepper a focus of study in Taiwan, as it often shares China's bounty of different types of hot chili peppers, and tasty dishes that put them to great use. The Chung Hsing University doctors discovered that capsaicin can shrink fat cells by tampering with a protein inside them. When eaten, it may even inhibit fat cell formation. Their findings are much more helpful than the rumor that spicy food works by raising metabolism, as their results were backed up by independent studies. It should be noted that consuming enough capsaicin can raise metabolism by only about 4-8% for a while, which is not all that insignificant if you were trying to lose fat only in that way.
The Netherlands study focused not on the direct action of the spice on cells, but on the hunger-fighting effects of hot foods. Even when they introduced a placebo, the results were still the same: Eating capsaicin can reduce hunger and lead people to eat less food. For example, if you had a hot-spicy lunch, you will be much less likely to want a snack before dinner, and then will consume less food at dinner as well.
Fighting hunger and wrecking fat cells is a fantastic one-two punch...but what if you don't like spicy foods? If you think that adding too much heat covers up the flavor of the food, or if you just don't enjoy the taste of peppers, you're not alone. Also, not everyone wants to eat spicy foods all the time. Fortunately, the natural health industry has recognized the problem. You can find capsaicin in convenient pill form. When you take a simple capsule, you never taste the heat. (receptors for this chemical are found in the tongue, lips, and sometimes the back of the mouth) Even an amount as small as .9 gram (less than 1 gram!) can have an effect on appetite.
Is capsaicin right for you?
If you have an ulcer, you shouldn't use it, as it may aggravate the condition. You must kill off the ulcer causing bacteria first, and make sure you're free of ulcers before using it. However, while using capsaicin, it may actually help fight bad bacteria in the stomach, thereby reducing your chances of future ulcers. If you are using medication for high blood pressure, or planning to use it as part of a big change in diet, it's also best to consult your doctor first.
Do you want more appetite slashing power?
Try mixing chia seeds into your food. They work in an entirely different way to keep you feeling full longer. Chia seeds absorb nine times their weight in water (or other liquid) so they can easily take up more space, without adding more calories. They're also rich in two kinds of fiber, soluble, and insoluble. Fiber does not add calories, because it can't be digested by the body. Instead, it acts as a sweeper, keeping food moving easily through the digestive system. Fiber also can help you feel full by taking up space.
Unlike capsaicin, chia seeds have no flavor at all. Instead, they take on the taste of whatever you add them to. From spaghetti sauce to seasoned marinade, cereal, yogurt or even fruit juice, you can count on chia to taste just like whatever you mix it into. While helping with the fullness factor, it also adds a nutritious boost with antioxidants, calcium, b-vitamins and plenty of protein.
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