Spicy foods can be found in traditional cuisines around the world, and many people take great pride in their ability to withstand scorching temperatures in their foods. Is it possible that those individuals may actually be at an advantage in terms of health and longevity? Research suggests that this may actually be the case. Although there are many ways that this is accomplished, one of the most interesting is the effect spicy cuisine has on weight and metabolism.
Does Eating Spicy Food Burn Calories?
Although it may seem like little more than a fantasy or wishful thinking that eating spicy food is capable of burning extra calories, scientific evidence does actually suggest that consuming spicy food has health benefits, not the least of which is burning additional calories.
The Science Behind Eating Spicy Food
Eating spicy food to support weight management efforts is verifiable by science because the chemical processes involved have been clearly identified, as have the chemical pathways required. When spicy items are consumed, a chemical compound called capsaicin binds to receptors on your taste buds called TRPV1. Once this has occurred, those same receptors send a signal to the nervous system, which releases a sensation of warming or burning. Just as you might experience an elevation in heart rate and sweating when you are outside on a hot day, your body may produce physiological reactions such as sweating, accelerated heart rate, and more.
During this process, endorphins (also known as natural painkillers) are also released, leading people who consume these foods to experience a feeling of excitement, pleasure, or even euphoria.
How Does Eating Spicy Food Impact Weight Loss?
Eating hot foods can lead to weight loss through multiple avenues. By consuming foods like cayenne pepper, black pepper, hot peppers, and more, weight loss can occur due to an increase in heart rate and sweating, and due to the presence of capsaicin, which can boost the body's ability to break down fat and burn energy.
Peppery and hot foods may also help control appetite by increasing feelings of satiety. Although this has been verified in scientific studies, how exactly these types of foods can increase satiety is unknown. It could be due in part to the presence of endorphins in the body, which may limit the desire to consume more food, or it could be through another pathway entirely.
The Pros and Cons of Eating Spicy Food
Spicy foods' effects on metabolism are demonstrable, but there are both pros and cons to consuming this particular type of food. To determine whether or not this is an ideal avenue for your own weight loss efforts, weigh the benefits against the drawbacks, all of which are outlined below.
Consuming spicy cuisine has numerous benefits, many of which may seem counterintuitive or may not initially seem realistic. Nevertheless, studies have consistently shown that there is a difference between adding spicy foods to your diet and overall health, and going without spicy foods or limiting their intake.
- Weight loss
The compound in chili peppers and other hot foods responsible for weight loss has been demonstrated across the board. The levels of weight loss that can be expected will vary from person to person and body to body, but when energy burn and fat use increase, weight loss is the natural result.
- Improved heart health
The connection between heart health and spicy foods is a consistent one, with numbers indicating that blood flow was positively impacted by diets high in chili, pepper, and other foods associated with a high spicy content.
- Reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.
Blood cholesterol levels may also be impacted by consuming spicy cuisine, and people who eat these foods regularly may have a lower risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, all of which negatively impact cardiovascular and even neurological health.
- Increased gut health
Those for whom capsaicin does not cause stomach pain can actually derive healthy benefits from eating hot cuisine. Some studies have determined that eating these foods has a positive affect on gut health, by triggering a reaction in the gut that decreases inflammation. When inflammation decreases, gut health may see a spike in health and healthy function.
- Reduces inflammation
Capsaicin can reduce inflammation in more than the gut; the receptors that trigger this reaction in the intestinal tract can trigger reactions to reduce inflammation elsewhere, resulting in an increase in health and a decrease in the pain and discomfort of inflammation.
We've taken a close, hard look at the benefits of eating spicy cuisine, such as decreases in heart disease risk, but it is important to identify the potential pitfalls, too. These pitfalls are typically involving a specific subsets of the population, and do not usually indicate issues seen across a broad population. These possible concerns include mouth burns, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
- Mouth burns
Spice is not only hot-tasting; spice can legitimately cause the mouth to blister and burn. Although a single spicy sauce is not likely to cause burns to the mouth, sensitive mouths can experience more extreme responses to spicy items, and peppers and other spicy ingredients can contain compounds strong enough to burn.
For some, spicy cuisine functions less as a useful appetite suppressant and more as a laxative. This may be particularly true for people who have irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, or a similar disorder. Diarrhea caused by spicy ingredients can cause abdominal cramping and stomach discomfort in addition to burning the skin as it leaves the body.
- Abdominal cramps
Similarly to incidences of diarrhea, abdominal cramping from spicy items is more likely to occur in adults with acid reflux, or other gastrointestinal issues. The effects of capsaicin in the GI tracts of people with disorders or existing inflammation may be more likely to include cramping.
How to incorporate spicy food into your diet for weight loss
Start slow and small
Learning how to eat spicy cuisine is not a simple thing. Many people grow up eating spicy items and have built up something of a tolerance to different types of chili peppers and spices that make the burn of chili peppers or spices far less uncomfortable. Instead of leaping into eating spicy items regularly, it is best to start off with mild flavors and intensity, including peppers, poblanos, and cubanelles, rather than leaping to try jalapenos and serrano peppers.
Once taste buds have become accustomed to hot sauce and chili peppers with milder profiles (and there is no accompanying abdominal pain or GI discomfort), you can move up to hot chilli peppers and other spices that pack a bunch, and gradually improve your tolerance.
Have a coolant handy
The lingering effect of capsaicin, the component in chili peppers, can make it difficult to overcome the discomfort often experienced when consuming these types of food. Having a coolant on hand can effectively help ease the process of learning to like this type of food (and perhaps ward off weight gain), without burning your mouth or leaving a sour taste in our mouth in the process.
Milk, sourdough, lemon, and coconut milk are all useful tools that can effectively douse the fire, in case you aren't able to handle the heat. Keep them handy when you try a new pepper or spice to make sure that your taste buds and mouth don't wind up squirming and in pain. Using these elements to counteract hot chili peppers can make the difference between becoming a professor of foods spicy and metabolically supportive and shying away from spicy cuisine as often as possible.
Don't force yourself
Although including spicy products and produce in an overall healthy diet can more effectively support weight loss and healthy waist circumference, getting capsaicin from chili peppers rather than a dedicated product can prove too much for some people. All types of chili peppers can prove too hot and uncomfortable for some individuals to eat, so it is important to listen to what your body tells you. Spicy food isn't for everyone! If your stomach shows signs of damage, such as cramping, bloating, pain, or discomfort, take a few steps back to milder peppers and flavors or step away from spicy cuisine altogether.
Don't like spicy foods? Try using a chitosan supplement
Spicy food isn't for everyone, so not everyone will be able to gradually build up a tolerance. Even people who have been downing the components of peppers their entire lives may not be able to enjoy spicy cuisine as part of their daily diet, and may need to rely on other ways to support general health, spark weight loss, and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. For those individuals, there are options to still enjoy the weight loss effects of capsaicin, including capsaicin capsules.
Capsaicin capsules can also prove too intense for stomachs prone to belly pain or suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Calorie Burn Black's efforts to reduce body fat mass rely primarily upon chitosan, a component found in the hard outer skeletons of shellfish, some insects, and some fungi, and include tea and coffee to further stimulate metabolic action in the human body, all without inducing a sensation of heat in the body.
Spicy foods alone may not be able to trigger a massive landslide of weight loss, but capsaicin, a compound found in spicy cuisine, has been consistently linked to better weight management, improved heart health, and improved metabolic health. Consuming those foods in adequate quantities can prove difficult for people who have digestive tract disorders or delicate stomachs, or may prove difficult for anyone who does not prefer the taste of spicy food products. These individuals can utilize alternative supplements to gain the same powerful weight loss results. For people who are able to develop a tolerance, who have a history of eating those foods, or who simply enjoy spicy flavors, adding more of these foods into their diet could result in improvements to health and prevention against common disorders and diseases, including metabolic disorders and cardiovascular disease.