It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy spicy food, for my Indian taste buds have an inherited liking for spices, however, I have also inherited my parent’s obsession with eating healthy; and as the myth goes that spices are bad for health, my folks, also influenced by this age old belief always drilled that fact into my mind which made me a sworn avoider of spices until today.
Now you must be wondering what caused such a transformation in my thought pattern. Well, today I happened to see a television show where they were talking about the benefits of spicy food and how spicy food causes weight loss, this was enough to spark up my inquisitiveness and so I did my own research work and to my great surprise, I found out that it is actually true!
Spicy Food is Actually a Proactive Ingredient For Losing Weight!
Spices help in increasing your body’s metabolism rate; it can boost your metabolism rate by 8% to 20% more than your normal rate of metabolism. Although this increase is temporary, which lasts from half an hour to three hours at the most, but having a spicy diet all the time should help in keeping the metabolic rate on the higher side all the time. Most of us know what metabolism means; it is our body’s ability to burn calories in order to provide energy for performing our daily activities.
So to start with, we know that spices help in burning calories; but exactly how does it do so? Here’s how- Spices contain “thermogenic” properties that help in increasing one’s body temperature and in the process increases the heart rate.
This increased heart rate requires more energy for the heart to function; therefore more calories are burnt to meet this higher need of energy. It’s like a full cycle. Remember the cardio exercises your fitness trainer makes you do in order to lose body fat; it uses the same ideology of burning calories through increased heart rate. Not that you can substitute your cardiovascular exercises with only spicy food, but it does act as a stimulant in your weight loss regime.
Spices contain capsaicin, which is the source from which spices derive their heat and aid in burning fats. Capsaicin is a colourless compound found in jalapenos, cayenne pepper and most other chilli peppers. Also, the thermogenic property of spices helps in increasing blood circulation and stimulates the process of breaking down of fat cells in the body, thus aiding weight loss process.
Spices also improve digestion by increasing the hydrochloric secretion in your stomach. That is another reason why spices increase metabolic rate, because an increase in the body’s absorption rate causes the metabolism rate to increase automatically. The increase in body absorption rate converts calories to energy and prevents them for being stored as fat.
Apart from increasing your metabolism, spices also act as a mild suppressant of appetite. Certain spices have a strong flavour and when added to a dish they render the dish a rich taste and aroma. It is this rich taste and aroma that causes a person to reach his/her level of satiation very easily and therefore causes a person to eat less, as you feel satisfied with only a small quantity of that dish.
Like capsaicin is believed to be very effective in reducing appetite. Capsaicin increases the level of norepinephine and epinephrine in the body which causes a person to feel less hungry. Spices are so great for controlling your diet and all this time you were depending on those medicines that suppress your hunger and prevent you from eating voraciously.
There have been quite a few studies to support the fact that spices induce weight loss; for example, one study proved that when adult men were served appetizers with a hot, spicy sauce, they consumed 200 calories less when the main course was served as compared to those men who did not have the spicy sauce with their appetizers.
Another study on controlling obesity divided obese dieters in two groups, one group consumed spicy flavoured food and the other group ate a controlled diet sans spices. After 6 months it was found that the group that ate spicy food lost 30 pounds as compared to the other group whose members lost only 2 pounds each.
Spices have a lot of benefits like black pepper is an antioxidant and antibacterial, cayenne pepper boosts immune system by clearing congestion. Capsaicin controls blood pressure so reduces the strain on ones heart; it also works as an anti-inflammatory and helps in controlling pain. That is why many athletes prefer spicy food in order to increase their endurance level and treat osteoarthritis. Other benefits of spices include cancer prevention and improved sleep patterns.
There are many who preach that spicy food has a lot of adverse effects like stomach ulcers and acid reflux. It is true that spicy food does cause irritation to people suffering from ulcers, but please note that the root cause of ulcers is bacteria, not spicy food. However, people who have weak stomach should consume spicy food in moderation as an irritating digestive tract might cause digestion problems.
So before you start on a spicy diet, check your tolerance level by consuming spices in small quantity, and gradually increase the intake as your tolerance level goes up.
However, don’t just rely on spices, because in order to lead a healthy life a person should have a balanced diet and do adequate exercise, so that all parts of his/her body function properly. But it is very much advisable to spice up this balanced life by a little bit of spicy food. Not that you consume a lot of chillies, just a little bit of spices can cause a significant change. Afterall, you have nothing to lose if a gain in the consumption of your spices can help you lose fat.