Ancient countries have loved and utilized Cayenne pepper for thousands of years, both for its therapeutic benefits and spicy taste. Now, it is popular among dieters and fitness oriented individuals for its metabolism boosting properties. The cayenne pepper weight loss potential is believed to lie in its ability to increase metabolism and curb the appetite. This article will examine in detail whether or not the weight loss claims made by cayenne pepper advocates have any legitimacy.
How Does Cayenne Pepper Work for Weight Loss?
Cayenne pepper has the potential to aid weight loss efforts through several processes. The main component in cayenne pepper to aid weight loss is capsaicin. It is a phytochemical responsible for the spicy taste of cayenne. What is a phytochemical? A phytochemical is a biologically active compound that the plant produces. Phytochemicals play an important role in a plant’s metabolism and in protecting it against invaders, disease, and pathogens. Phytochemicals are, metaphorically speaking, a plant’s warriors. The phytochemical capsaicin is most concentrated in cayenne peppers or cayenne pepper extracts. That’s why the cayenne pepper is more popular than its cousins.
There’s a lot of talk out there about foods and different forms of metabolism-boosting exercise, whether it’s high-intensity interval training or the negative calorie theory of celery. But what does it actually mean for a food to boost metabolism? Metabolism, for the sake of this discussion, is the conversion of food and drink into energy. Low thyroid and high insulin levels contribute to a slow metabolism and vice versa. This means that those with a slow metabolism need fewer calories to maintain the same weight as those with a fast metabolism.
But let’s talk some more about cayenne pepper weight loss benefits:
1. Boosts Resting Metabolism
While more research does need to be done, some studies indicate that capsaicin boosts the body’s energy use or metabolism as much as 20% at two hours post-meal. If you normally burn 60 calories an hour just puttering around doing your daily activities or sitting in an office, that would mean you burn 12 extra calories per hour, and that’s just on the low end. While that may seem insignificant in and of itself, it can add up over time.
2. Increases Thermogenesis
Thermogenesis is the burning of excess white body fat. We mentioned white body fat to distinguish it from brown body fat. Brown body fat is a healthy fat that increases metabolism. It is found primarily in the neck and back as opposed to the belly (for men) and the belly, thighs, and legs (for women). Capsaicin, through a complex molecular and chemical process, activates several enzyme pathways in the body that promote thermogenesis. This makes it a valuable addition to the dedicated dieter’s regimen.
3. Suppresses the Apetite
One study suggests that capsaicin curbs the appetite, helping to reduce overall calorie intake, in particular cravings for sweets. That being said, the study also goes on to say that the appetite suppression effect is more pronounced among those who do not consume red pepper frequently. Occasional doses may be better than a regular intake for those looking for this benefit.
Also, the study found that the appetite suppression was most pronounced when cayenne was consumed either as a whole or sprinkled as a spice into food versus taking it as an extract or in supplement/pill form. Conclusion: While a high-quality supplement may be more effective for increasing thermogenesis and boosting metabolism, it’s not as effective for appetite suppression unless the food itself is consumed directly.
How to Use Cayenne Pepper for Weight Loss
Cayenne pepper is versatile, so you can incorporate it in your diet via many methods. One quick caveat: it’s important to ensure that your cayenne pepper is of top quality and preferably organic. Take note of this especially if you’re using the dried form instead of the fresh.
Seasoning for Food
Sprinkle dried cayenne pepper on eggs, in soups, salads, salad dressings, and pretty much anything else you can think of. If you are using fresh cayenne peppers, chop them up and add them some scrambled eggs or an omelet, or sauté them with mushrooms and peppers for a delicious stir-fry (guaranteed to ignite your taste buds and metabolism).
A high-quality capsaicin supplement packs more of a potent punch when it comes to boosting metabolism and instigating thermogenesis than simply consuming cayenne pepper fresh or dried as a spice. Even if you do prefer to consume it the “natural” way, that much spice wouldn’t be tolerable for your taste buds.
Cayenne Pepper Detox Drink
There’s a popular, homemade detox drink that’s purportedly touted for its weight loss properties. The drink consists of a mixture of warm water, cayenne pepper, freshly squeezed lemon, and maple syrup or honey. There isn’t any evidence beyond anecdotal supporting the benefits of this particular drink, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. At the very least, it makes a tasty substitute for soda and is a good source of Vitamin C.
The Disadvantages of Cayenne Pepper for Weight Loss
While cayenne pepper is generally safe, too much can still pose a potential problem for some individuals. Other than an allergic reaction, here are a few symptoms that may indicate you need to back off:
Cayenne can be a stomach irritant for those suffering from intestinal permeability, GERD, or acid reflux. Vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating are the most common side effects.
Cayenne pepper may interact with a few medications, in particular blood thinners (that includes aspirin) and diabetes medication. Consult your healthcare practitioner to be on the safe side.
Research indicates that cayenne pepper and its phytochemical component, capsaicin, are helpful in increasing metabolism, thermogenesis, and reducing appetite. There’s no denying the cayenne pepper weight loss potential, but do consider other things as well. As with any weight loss aid, cayenne pepper is a valuable addition to a healthy diet but not a substitute for exercise or healthy eating. Anything worth having, such as a healthy body, is worth working for.