Weight loss

Can chillis help you lose weight?

May help speed up metabolism, burn fat

Good news if you like your food hot. Eating chilli peppers may help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism and burning fat, say scientists.

As everyone who likes Mexican food knows, a few too many chilli peppers in a mouthful of food can soon raise your temperature, and even make you sweat.

This happens because they contain capsaicin that causes the body to heat up. Food experts think that plants evolved to contain capsaicin as a defence against insects and other predators which fancied eating them.

However, results from a study presented at Experimental Biology 2010, suggest that the heat generating effect of chilli peppers can actually help with weight loss.

And fortunately for those of us who don't appreciate the burning sensation of hot peppers, there are plants which make a non-burning version of capsaicin called dihydrocapsiate (DCT).

In the study, researchers at the University of California gave DCT-containing pills or a placebo (dummy pill) to 34 men and women who were on calorie controlled diets.

The volunteers took the pills along with a low calorie liquid meal for 28 days, and body weight and body fat were measured at the beginning and end of the study.

The researchers found that enegy expenditure, or heat production by those given the highest amounts of capsaicin were almost double that of the people given the placebo, and the effect lasted for several hours after the meal was eaten.

The results suggest that DCT increases fat oxidation, pushing the body to use more fat as fuel, they said. This may help people lose weight when they are on low calorie diets, by increasing metabolism they added.

However, the researchers, led by Dr David Herber from the Centre of Human Nutrition, warned that they only tested the effect of DCT on the heat response to a single meal: lean and obese people may have a different reponse.

This article was published on Wed 28 April 2010

Image © Elnur - Fotolia.com

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page