Losing weight is seldom easy. In fact, it’s often a slow and difficult thing to achieve. Diets can fail, and intense workouts can be exhausting. Only five percent of dieters successfully reach their target weight. The remaining 95% either quit their diet before achieving their goal or quickly regain the weight they have lost.
It’s no surprise that some dieters turn to things like fat loss supplements and diet pills to make weight loss easier.
Evidence suggests that some herbs and spices may speed up fat loss, which raises the question: does cayenne burn fat? After all, cayenne pepper is a common ingredient in many weight loss supplements.
The good news is that this popular spice CAN help you lose weight faster, but it’s not a miracle weight loss cure. To lose weight and keep it off, you still need to eat sensibly, stay active, and make your weight loss efforts consistent.
It took you years to gain that weight you are so desperate to lose, so it stands to reason that it’s going to take more than a few days to drop those extra pounds; sorry!
That said, adding cayenne pepper to your diet could make losing weight just a little bit easier, and in the battle of the belly bulge, every advantage, no matter how small, is worth seeking out.
What Is Capsaicin?
All foods, even the most natural ones, are made up of chemicals. Scientists spend years analyzing our food and identifying the things that make our foods healthy and beneficial, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Capsaicin is one of the main chemicals found in cayenne peppers. It’s also found in other types of pepper, but to a much smaller degree. Capsaicin is what gives cayenne pepper its heat.
Chemically speaking, capsaicin is a thermogenic, which means it increases your core temperature, and that can help speed up fat loss. Because cayenne pepper is high in capsaicin, it stands to reason that consuming this spice could help you lose weight faster.
Does It Suppress Appetite?
Weight loss diets invariably mean eating less, and that can lead to hunger. Hunger is your body’s way of reminding you that it’s time to eat. It stops you from starving. However, your body doesn’t know you are purposely eating less to lose weight, and it incorrectly assumes you need to be reminded to go and hunt and forage for food. Hunger motivates you to eat.
Most people can ignore hunger for a few hours and even a day or two, but eventually, their willpower will falter, and they’ll break their diet. Usually, this involves overeating or a full-blown binge, leading to weight gain.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, can lead to increased levels of satiety, less hunger, and fewer cravings. Less hunger means you are less likely to overeat and will consume fewer calories, making your chosen diet more effective as well as easier to stick to.
Does It Increase Your Metabolism?
Your metabolism is the number of calories you burn per day, not counting exercise or physical activity, but including sleep. The higher your metabolism is, the more calories you’ll burn and, assuming you are following a calorie-controlled diet, the faster you’ll lose weight.
Cayenne pepper has been shown to increase the metabolism for 30-60 minutes after eating it, leading to greater calorie expenditure. This effect is slight, but even if it helps you burn 50 more calories, it’s worth doing. You may feel warm after eating cayenne pepper. That’s the thermogenic effect of capsaicin in action!
Will Cayenne Pepper Help You Lose Weight?
Cayenne pepper could definitely help you lose weight. It contains a potent thermogenic and appetite suppressant and also speeds up your metabolism. These three effects combine and should enhance weight loss.
However, as effective as cayenne pepper is, it won’t do much for you if you aren’t eating less than usual and exercising regularly. Using cayenne will increase your energy expenditure by up to a few hundred calories, but that won’t do a lot if you are still eating too much or are mostly sedentary.
But, combined with a sensible diet and sustainable exercise plan, cayenne pepper could mean you reach your weight loss target a little sooner and more easily than you would have without it.
Health Benefits of Cayenne?
As well as being an appetite suppressing, metabolism-boosting thermogenic weight loss aid, cayenne pepper may also have some valuable health benefits, including:
Reduced blood pressure – 40% of adults over the age of 25 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Studies on capsaicin suggest that this spice relaxes the blood vessels, leading to a marked reduction in blood pressure. These findings are based on animal studies, but there is no reason not to expect similar effects in humans.
Improved digestive health – spices like cayenne pepper have been used as traditional medicines for hundreds of years. Cayenne is often used to boost digestion and treat stomach ulcers. Consuming cayenne pepper appears to increase enzyme and fluid production in the stomach and may also protect the lining of the stomach against infection.
Treatment for psoriasis – psoriasis is an autoimmune disease during which the body turns its defenses against itself. In this instance, the skin becomes reddened, scaly, and itchy. There is no cure for psoriasis, but oral and topical treatment with capsaicin has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Pain relief – capsaicin is a potent pain killer. Applied topically in a gel or cream, it blocks pain signals reaching the brain and can help with:
- Muscle, joint, and lower back pain
- Surgical pain
- Pain from nerve conditions such as shingles
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Cayenne pepper may help prevent the formation or slow the growth of cancer cells. It’s been used successfully to treat several different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic, and skin cancer, albeit in animals.
As yet, there have been no human studies into the effect of cayenne pepper on cancer, but the animal studies are very promising.
Risks and Precautions
While cayenne pepper is a natural substance, it may not be safe for everyone. Both cayenne pepper and cayenne pepper/capsaicin supplements can cause unwanted side effects if:
- You are on anti-coagulants to slow blood clotting
- You are currently pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are scheduled for surgery in the near future
- You are taking theophylline – a drug used in the treatment of chronic obstructive airway disease
- You are taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure
That doesn’t mean you can’t use cayenne pepper or cayenne/capsaicin supplements, but you should speak to your doctor before starting. Also, cayenne pepper can cause irritation if it comes in contact with your skin and may trigger heartburn or stomach upsets in sensitive people.
Start with a low dose and increase gradually to determine your tolerance. Capsaicin creams should not be put on open wounds, as they can cause severe irritation.
How to Add Cayenne Pepper to Your Diet
Cayenne pepper/capsaicin supplements are very easy to use; just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But, if you prefer to use the unadulterated peppers or dried spice, you can just cook with it. Use powdered either cayenne pepper or whole peppers as preferred as both contain plenty of active capsaicin.
Cayenne pepper is very flavorsome and can be quite hot, so it’s best added to meals that are already savory or spicy, such as soups, stews, curries, and chilis. Alternately, you can add it to green smoothies.
You can also make a cayenne pepper infusion by mixing one teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper with a cup of warm water. Needless to say, this concoction is an acquired taste!
Cayenne pepper is one of several spices that may help speed up weight loss. The others include cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, mustard, and cardamom. Most of these spices have been used in traditional medicines for hundreds of years, suggesting they have some noteworthy therapeutic benefits.
However, as effective as cayenne and other spices can be, they won’t do much for your weight if you don’t watch what you eat or exercise regularly. Sadly, losing weight is not as easy as adding some spices to your meals.
That said, the thermogenic, appetite suppressing, and metabolism-boosting effect of cayenne pepper and capsaicin are well-documented. They can definitely help you lose weight faster and more easily, even if the impact is very small.
Adding cayenne peppers or cayenne pepper powder to your food will boost your health and make your diet more enjoyable too. And, if you don’t like the taste, you can also use cayenne pepper capsules instead.
However, because cayenne pepper may interact with some medications and can also reduce blood clotting, you should speak to your doctor if you are worried about any potential side effects of using this popular, warming spice.