Capsaicin, a natural chemical found in spicy and hot foods, doesn’t just taste great with your favorite fajita. Diet companies are now lacing cayenne pepper, a major source of capsaicin, in their diet supplements, claiming it kills hunger and causes significant weight loss.
Sound too good to be true? It might be. But these claims are also being touted by nutritionists and weight loss experts. Several studies conducted on capsaicin have returned very interesting resulting, including the inhibition of fat cell growth and hunger reduction.
From the experts’ standpoint, capsaicin can cause weight loss.
"Spicy foods tend to satiate the appetite more quickly than bland foods, particularly foods that are both hot and spicy," says Kristie Leong, a family physician and writer for Suite 101 Magazine, "Combine that with the subtle boost in thermogenesis induced by the spices and a slight weight loss benefit might be achieved."
So what exactly did researchers discover?
What Researchers Discovered
Capsaicin first got everyone’s attention when scientists reported capsaicin inhibited fat cell growth. Reported on March 21, 2007 in the
American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Taiwanese researchers used capsaicin on pre-adipocytes, a type of fat cell. The results?
"They found that capsaicin prevented pre-adipocytes from filling with fat and becoming full-fledged fat cells," reports Science Daily, who first reported the results of the study. This essentially means capsaicin was able to stop the process of fat cell creation, inhibiting its growth in the body. Gow-Chin Yen and Chin-Lin Hsu, who lead the study, say it can be a useful anti-obesity tool.
So what does this mean for you? Possible weight loss and fat reduction in the body, if you consume enough of it. Just one tablespoon won’t help you out here, though. Regularly adding it to meals might give you the required amount for capsaicin to cause weight loss.
What Other Studies Say
If you thought capsaicin had enough benefits, check out these other studies that report capsaicin causes weight loss.
- In the Netherlands, researchers spiked tomato juice with chili powder to see if people would lose weight. People who drank the spiced up version reduced their total caloric intake by 16 percent.
- Japan also conducted a study on the weight loss potential of capsaicin. According to the study, researchers gave 13 women an omelet spiked with capsaicin and watched how they ate throughout the entire day. To their surprise, the women ate much less during lunch.
So not only does capsaicin inhibit fat cell growth, there are studies that also show it reduces how much you eat. That’s great news if you’re on a diet and want to spike up your routine—not so great if you can’t handle spicy food.
Use It To Lose It
Now that we know how capsaicin causes weight loss, how do we use it? If you cannot handle spicy or hot foods, try gradually adding spices that contain capsaicin, such as chili powder, to your meal. Crushed red pepper is also another excellent source of capsaicin—and vitamin D.
If you prefer eating it in food form, chopping up chili or jalapeño peppers can easily enhance any dish. Avoid using it liberally, though, because it can get extremely hot.
Simply add these spices to your meal, eat, and watch how it affects you. Although doctors are still on the fence if it causes any significant weight loss, every bit helps—and who doesn’t want to lose weight just by adding a few spices here and there?