You don’t have to hit the gym to feel the burn and see waist-whittling results--just head to the spice aisle at your local grocery store! Those hot, hot peppers pack a fiery compound called capsaicin that turns up your internal furnace to help you torch away more calories than you would munching on mild meals.
Study participants given a capsaicin supplement with a low-calorie meal actually used double the amount of energy for several hours after it was taken compared to a group given the same meal and a placebo supplement. And, good news for all of you heat haters, they used a calm cousin of the spicy capsaicin that causes uncomfortable burning in this study. That means the same calorie-torching effects can be yours without the tingling tongue!
Patents are also in the works to capture this power in pill form! Taking the compound as a dietary supplement, the group of scientists behind the research presented at Biophysical Society's 59th Annual Meeting in Baltimore hypothesizes, could actually boost burn by helping your body use fat as an energy source. It all has to do with two types of bad: white fat that we all want to get rid of and brown fat, the “good” kind that burns stored white fat. Essentially, their research suggests that capsaicin could promote “browning” of white fat, a process in which it’s converted into a third type of fat called beige fat that creates heat and burns calories.
Researchers are even using this chili compound in a special surgery that blocks signals from the gut to the brain but allows snack-stopping signals from the brain to the gut to continue; the procedure drastically slashed total body fat and visceral fat (the dangerous kind that wraps around your internal organs in your belly region) in mice, and researchers have high hopes about making these same results happen in humans.
Fresh spices pack the most potent punch, so buy them in smaller quantities if you have that option. Grocery stores with bulk bins of spices are a good bet, and coffee grinders that double as spice grinders are available at low costs so you can blend up your own flavor-packed spice palate without adding much money to your grocery bill.
Try roasting chili peppers with your other vegetables, adding finely chopped jalapenos to salads and sandwiches, and sprinkling red pepper flakes on everything from pizza to burgers. Aside from giving your fat furnace a bit of a boost, it’s an easy and low-calorie way to give all of your meals a ton of flavor.
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