Turn Up the Heat for Weight Loss

Anyone who has had an experience at a Thai restaurant with a spicy-level-five entrée is well aware of the physical affects bestowed by copious amounts of crushed red pepper. More specifically, screaming, thrashing, wishes of death and the consumption of large amounts of water come to mind. However, it doesn’t take all that much pepper to cause a physical reaction.

In fact, in a study recently published by Richard Mattes of Purdue University, he shows that a typical amount of crushed red pepper for a Western palette – about one gram – causes a smorgasbord of physical effects, namely increased energy expenditure, diminished orexigenic sensations, decreased energy intake and reduced respiratory quotient.

What the hell does that mean, you ask?

Moderate doses of red pepper in your meals can help you lose weight. The increased energy expenditure is pretty easy to understand – you burn more calories. Orexigenic refers to an appetite stimulant naturally produced by the body, so a reduction in its sensations implies you don’t get as hungry. Decreased energy intake translates to eating less food and a reduced respiratory quotient is an indicator for the more efficient burning of fat.

What’s that you say? You can’t stand a little punch to your palette? Well, that’s even more reason to give red pepper a shot!

None of the aforementioned effects in the study were very large. However, they were statistically significant and at least worth trying out in addition to other weight loss endeavors like eating right and exercising.

But only for those who don’t usually use the stuff. It seems that people who regularly spice up their plates don’t see the same physical affects as those who aren’t used to it. Exactly how long it takes to get used to using red pepper – or whether or not increased heat can reproduce the affects for those who already use it in moderation – were not addressed in the paper.

But again, if you want a little extra boost to your weight loss, pick up some pepper!


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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