Hot hot heat: How chilli can fire up your metabolic rate
If you’re no stranger to chillies, you would be familiar with the burning sensation they induce on your tongue and the consequent sweat and furious rush of blood to your face. For some, eating chillies is a pleasurable activity, as the body releases endorphins (which make you feel good, and experience a “high”) to guard against the heat of these fiery foods.
But did you know that chillies may even blaze up your metabolism (the amount of calories your body requires to maintain itself during the day) and melt those calories away?
A recent study conducted by University of Wyoming researchers found that a chemical ingredient in peppers – capsaicin – can help the body to burn energy and create heat through a process called thermogenesis, which then melts those pesky calories.
Another study meanwhile says that spicy food may not actually induce a metabolic rate boost but may in reality be a mild appetite suppressant, making a person feel fuller and cutting down on 200 calories at later meals on average, compared with those who did not imbibe any appetisers with hot sauce.
Another benefit could also be decreasing the likelihood of developing bowel cancer, another report says. The scientists in the study gave capsaicin to mice which are genetically prone to having several tumours in their gastrointestinal tract. The chemical compound sparked a pain receptor in the cells which line the intestines, spurring a reaction which then cuts the risk of developing colorectal tumours. This then prolonged the mice’s lifespan by over 30 per cent.
This compound exists in jalapenos, cayenne, habaneros and most chilli peppers, which you can add to your cooking such as in soups and on meats for some sizzle on your tastebuds and some burning of your fats.
On top of its possible weight-loss effects, the compound can even work as a blood thinner, reducing and preventing blood clots. It has even been viewed as an anti-inflammatory and is extracted from chillies to create topical pain-relief creams for arthritis and shingles.
Consuming chillies can also unclog a blocked nose as capsaicin reduces the thickness of nasal mucus and clears your sinuses.
But be kind to your body
Do not overdose on chillies and peppers at one sitting as they may wreak havoc on your bowel system and cause stomach upsets. Find a balance in the levels of spiciness your body can tolerate while trying to achieve some calorie-burning gains.
Certain spicy foods you encounter at restaurants may also counteract the weight loss benefits chillies offer as they may contain a high content of unhealthy and fatty ingredients too. So don’t jump on the curry bandwagon too quickly as most curries are heavy and aren’t suitable for daily consumption if you’re on a diet.
Chillies are just one way of boosting your metabolism, so don’t rely on it completely to obtain your weight loss goals.