I don’t know about you, but I love spicy food. Not only does it taste great, it can also boost the metabolism. That’s right, the same compound that makes certain foods spicy can also turn up the heat on your metabolism, helping burn more calories and torch unwanted body fat.
You see, hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, and observational studies suggest that consumption of foods containing capsaicin is associated with lower body weight.1
Research has shown that capsaicin can boost metabolic rate, accelerate fat burning, decrease fat storage, increase feelings of fullness, reduce appetite, and decrease calorie intake.2
One unique way that capsaicin appears to increase calorie burn is through activation of “brown fat,” which is different from unwanted body fat (also called white adipose tissue).3 The purpose of brown fat is to burn off calories as heat in order to keep the body warm, and capsaicin’s ability to “activate” stubborn brown fat is a cutting-edge way to boost metabolism and burn body fat.4,5
Not only that, capsaicin appears to activate a compound in the body called AMPK, which helps partition carbs to muscle, not fat.6,7 Activation of AMPK also increases fat burning and reduces the body’s ability to create and store fat.8 Shuttle carbs to muscles, burn more fat, and store less…sounds awesome to me!
With all of that in mind, you might consider spicing up your meals a bit with cayenne, jalapeño, habanero, and other hot peppers. Basically, the hotter the pepper, the greater the capsaicin content, and if you’re feeling especially spicy, then you might try the bhut jolokia pepper (aka, the “ghost pepper”), which is so hot that it is often used as an elephant repellant in India!