Successful weight loss requires some important lifestyle changes that involve regular physical activity and diet modifications. However, there are also several food products that promote weight loss faster.
You may have probably heard of a capsaicin fat-burning tea recipe, whose main ingredient includes cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper is one of the superfoods that you can use to speed up weight loss. In fact, it is a common ingredient in many dietary supplements. This article will tell you more about the use of cayenne pepper in weight loss, its several other health benefits, and some tips on how you can incorporate it in your daily diet.
What is Cayenne Pepper?
Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper, and it belongs to the nightshade family of flowering plants closely related to jalapenos and bell peppers. Originally grown in Central and South America, these peppers are moderately hot and are used widely for flavoring dishes. Cayenne peppers are usually red, thin, and about 10 to 25cm long. They are usually dried and grounded, then added to meals as they’re cooking.
Besides culinary, cayenne peppers also have medicinal purposes. Their health potential is impressive. For centuries cayenne peppers were used to address a number of health problems, but science is still trying to catch up with traditional medicine.
Cayenne pepper contains a phytochemical, capsaicin, which is responsible for its spiciness and aids weight loss. It works by binding to the neuroreceptors, which induces calcium influx. This triggers a host of cellular responses, such as increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes and decreasing proinflammatory protein expression. This, in turn, helps to flush out toxins, prevents plaque formation, and increases the metabolic rate (1).
To be more specific, we’ve listed the exact mechanisms on how Cayenne pepper works for weight loss.
How Can Cayenne Pepper Help You Lose Weight?
1. It Reduces Appetite
Overeating is a common problem today and a major contributor to obesity. It’s not, actually, someone’s goal to overeat. This usually happens when a person keeps eating to stop being hungry, but they don’t feel full.
Reasons behind bigger appetite are numerous including an unhealthy diet or an eating pattern which doesn’t contain foods that promote fullness and satiety. It’s needless to mention cravings that are difficult to resist. Appetite reduction is an important aspect of weight loss and its management. Studies show that cayenne peppers can help you make it happen.
Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin, an active compound that is responsible for a vast majority of its health benefits. Evidence found that capsaicin and capsaicinoids have the potential to prevent the increase in hunger and accentuate the impact of caloric restriction on weight loss.
In addition, they prevent a decrease in fullness, energy expenditure, and a decrease in fat oxidation all of which would otherwise occur with energy restriction. These effects postpone the occurrence of resistance to lose fat during the weight loss process. Capsaicin also improves sleep which can also facilitate energy balance (2).
Other studies have also shown that cayenne peppers (thanks to capsaicin) can reduce a person’s appetite (3, 4, 5). You are now less likely to suffer from overeating, so weight loss becomes easier. This is one of several mechanisms through which cayenne peppers exhibit their anti-obesity effects.
2. It Speeds Up Metabolism
Metabolism is a process wherein the body converts food and drinks into energy. During this process calories from food are combined with oxygen in order to produce energy without which your body cannot function. The human body needs energy even when a person’s resting.
Metabolism is important for weight management because foods that aren’t converted to energy are stored as fat, which, in the long run, can cause a problem. In order to boost their weight loss prospects, people work on accelerating their metabolic rate, but many of them opt for unhealthier methods to do so. Intake of cayenne pepper, through food or supplementation, can accelerate metabolism in a safe and natural manner.
One study found that capsaicin, a main active compound in cayenne peppers, helps increase the amount of heat the body produces thus making you burn more calories during the day (6). Capsaicin works through diet-induced thermogenesis.
Experts published an interesting research which showed that people who ate breakfast that involved capsaicin and medium-chain triglyceride oil lost 50% more calories during that meal compared to subjects who ate neither (7).
Some studies showed that capsaicin had rather moderate results in terms of accelerated metabolism. In one study eating 1g of cayenne pepper burned ten more calories over four and a half hours compared to not eating any cayenne pepper at all (8).
Besides capsaicin, cayenne peppers also contain a compound called dihydrocapsiate which also proves to exhibit thermogenic effects that accelerate your metabolism (9).
It’s important to mention that people who generally don’t eat cayenne peppers may benefit more from metabolism-boosting effects of capsaicin. If you eat them regularly, your body adapts to them meaning effects are weaker.
3. It Decreases Your Cravings
Evidence showed that people who consumed red pepper with every meal felt increased feelings of fullness and had fewer cravings (10). The study results suggest that adding capsaicin to your diet can suppress your appetite. This can lead to a decrease in caloric intake and an increase in weight loss.
The study was limited to only 15 subjects. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
4. It Helps You Burn More Calories
In addition to increasing your metabolism, cayenne pepper is thought to help you burn calories because it’s spicy.
When you eat a spicy pepper, it causes your body’s temperature to rise. When your body’s temperature rises, your body goes into a cooldown mode. This causes your body to burn calories.
One study found that people who don’t like spicy food had better weight loss results when they started taking cayenne capsules (11).
It’s thought that you can build up a tolerance to the effects of red pepper. As a result, your weight loss may decrease the longer you take supplements or eat spicy peppers.
5. It Improves Athletic Performance
Most people want to lose weight without exercising, and chances are high you’ve come across a multitude of articles and products that promise you can do so. The healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is to make changes in your lifestyle by modifying your diet and exercising more.
A healthy diet really doesn’t change anything if you have a sedentary lifestyle. The best way to stick to the exercise regimen is to choose an activity you like because you won’t look for excuses to avoid it. What’s amazing about cayenne peppers is that they can help you get maximum out of your physical activity through an enhanced athletic performance.
Experts found that supplementation with capsaicin exhibited anti-fatigue effects and improved exercise performance. The study also found that capsaicin improves grip strength, endurance, and induced other effects which are important for exercise enhancement (12).
In other words, consumption of cayenne peppers, through food or supplements, can help you perform better during a workout routine. The better you perform, the more effective your workout regimen will become. When you get the maximum out of your athletic activity, the body burns more calories which promotes weight loss. It’s needless to mention that better athletic performance is a major motivator and a confidence boost as results are visible on the body, and you want to keep doing that.
Other Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Aside from managing weight, cayenne pepper can do several other things to improve your health.
1. It Boosts Antioxidant Activity
The antioxidants in cayenne pepper include:
- Vitamin C, which also supports the immune system
- Vitamin E
- Beta carotene
- Cryptoxanthin, a source of vitamin A
Cryptoxanthin is also a type of pigment called a carotenoid, and it gives the pepper its red color.
Antioxidants offer a wide range of health benefits by helping the body remove free radicals, which are toxic substances that can cause harm if too many build up.
Removing free radicals may help prevent a range of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
The body produces some antioxidants, while others come from the diet.
2. It Treats Colds Symptoms
Some people use cayenne pepper in home remedies for coughs, congestion, and to fight off colds.
A review of studies found that capsaicin may relieve symptoms such as sneezing, a stuffy nose, postnasal drip, and congestion when allergies or smoking are not the cause (13).
Capsaicin may have these effects by shrinking dilated blood vessels in the nose and throat.
Researchers also found that capsaicin nasal spray provided significant rapid and sustainable relief from the above symptoms, when allergies were not the cause. The improvement started as soon as 10 minutes after using the spray (14).
Cayenne pepper also has antibacterial properties. In laboratory tests, scientists found that it combatted group A Streptococci, the type of bacteria responsible for strep throat and other diseases (15).
To make a home remedy that includes cayenne pepper, a person could try the following:
- Combine 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Mix cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar into hot water, making a tea, to clear the sinuses.
However, there is a lack of scientific evidence to suggest that these home remedies are effective.
3. It Relieves Pain
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, may have pain-relieving properties.
Experts looked at the potential for capsaicin in a cream to reduce pain. The authors concluded that there may be benefits to long-term use (16).
Capsaicin may help alleviate pain by reducing the amount of substance P — a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain.
Creams or ointments containing 0.0125% purified capsaicin may reduce pain and tenderness from osteoarthritis, for example, according to one study. Participants benefitted from applying the cream three times daily to the sites of their pain.
However, some people who try this treatment experience an unpleasant burning sensation as a side effect.
Other research has suggested that taking oral capsaicin supplements may help relieve pain and discomfort in athletes (17). However, scientists are still investigating how this might work and what dosage might be effective.
There are also concerns that it may cause gastrointestinal distress in some people.
It is important to note that the findings above refer to medicinal rather than dietary uses of capsaicin.
4. It Eases Skin Problems
Capsaicin appears to have antibacterial properties that help protect the body from Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A Streptococcus. These bacteria can cause skin and soft tissue infections, such as impetigo and cellulitis.
Experts concluded that capsaicin patches may reduce itching caused by various skin conditions, including psoriasis, as well as itching resulting from dialysis, a process of purifying the blood in people with kidney damage (18).
5. It Promotes Digestive Health
Consuming more cayenne pepper can improve digestive health, which can be of value to weight loss and overall feelings of good health.
One research found the following positive effects (19):
- Reduction of symptoms of GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Inhibition of gastrointestinal viruses and bacteria that cause digestive distress
- Discouragement of cancer and ulcers
- Regulation of gastrointestinal secretions and ability to absorb nutrients
A study performed on rats determined that capsaicin actually prevented gastric ulcers (20). Humans may experience the same positive effect by consuming more cayenne pepper.
6. It Prevents Blood Clots
Blood clots are blockages in your arteries and blood vessels that limit blood flow through your circulatory system.
Cayenne encourages fibrinolytic activity and helps prevent blood clots. This is also the reason why cayenne pepper is effective in preventing heart attacks.
Studies indicate that the capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps to clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits, and dilates arteries and blood vessels to clear away clots (21).
7. It Helps in Detoxification
Cayenne pepper benefits include its ability to stimulate circulation and eliminate acidity.
According to experts, cayenne pepper restores the circulatory system by opening the capillaries and regulating blood sugar; it also helps the digestive system that moves bacteria and toxins out of the body (22).
Another study suggests that cayenne pepper also increases body temperature and boosts your metabolism (23).
8. It Fights Cancer
Studies suggest that capsaicin may have a role as a natural remedy for cancer, including in the management of prostate cancer.
One found that this important ingredient in cayenne pepper is able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the activation of new dangerous formations (24).
There is also data suggesting that cayenne pepper benefits include being effective in helping prevent lung cancer in smokers.
Cayenne pepper’s high amounts of capsaicin serves as a substance that can stop the formation of tobacco induced tumors in the lung. Similar effects have also been found in liver tumors when they were exposed to cayenne pepper.
9. It Has Anti-Fungal Properties
The final cayenne pepper benefit is its ability to kill fungus and prevent the formation of fungal pathogens. Cayenne pepper was investigated to determine its in vitro antifungal activity, and the results found that it was active against 16 different fungal strains, including Candida (25).
Candida is a fungus that aids with nutrient absorption and digestion, when in proper levels in the body. When it overproduces, however, the typical candida symptoms may appear.
This includes hormone imbalance, joint pain, digestive problems and a weak immune system.
How to Add Cayenne Pepper to Your Diet?
Cayenne peppers are available year-round in supermarkets or health food stores. You can find them in fresh, dried or powdered form.
Because powdered cayenne pepper is sometimes a mix of poorer quality herbs, it’s best to buy cayenne peppers fresh. However, if you are using dried or powdered pepper, the health benefits are still awesome.
Just be sure to buy your powder from a trusted company. Go for powders that are authentic and branded products. There are even organic options.
In the store, look for raw, fresh chilies that have a brilliant red color and a healthy stem. Make sure there aren’t any spots, mold or spoiled tips.
The pepper should look wholesome and firm. Once at home, store your peppers inside the refrigerator in a plastic bag. They will stay fresh for about a week.
Dry peppers are also available at the supermarket, especially health food stores. Dry peppers can be stored using airtight containers in a cool and dark place.
Dried cayenne peppers can be milled to powder using a hand mill.
Fresh cayenne chili peppers can be used to make spicy drinks, sauce, chutney or can even be used for pickling. Make sure you wash them well first.
Here’s a breakdown of some simple ways to use cayenne in your daily health regime:
1. Cayenne Pepper Tea
Fans of cayenne pepper tea often prepare the brew by stirring 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper into a cup of hot water. Squeezing in the juice from half of a fresh lemon can improve the taste of your cayenne pepper tea.
When preparing your cayenne pepper tea, bring the water nearly to a boil and immediately combine with the ground cayenne pepper. For best results, stir the mixture until the cayenne has completely dissolved. You can also promote steeping by covering the mug for several minutes prior to sipping.
To add more flavor to your cayenne pepper tea and possibly boost its health benefits, consider including other herbs in the brew. Try pepping up your tea with ingredients like ginger and turmeric, two herbs known to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
For further flavor enhancement, try stirring a teaspoon of honey into your cayenne pepper tea.
2. Juice or Smoothies
You can also add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to your juice or smoothie to lose weight. The tangy taste of the fruits will nullify the strong flavor of the cayenne and add taste to it.
3. Home-Cooked Meals
Cayenne pepper adds taste and flavor when added to home-cooked meals. You can add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to your salad, soup, yogurt dip, and other food preparations without making its spiciness too overbearing.
Cayenne capsules or capsaicin capsules are also available for purchase. When taking cayenne pills, read the label carefully for dosage instructions. It’s best to start with a lower dose to monitor how your body reacts.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Since scientists have yet to test its health effects, little is known about the safety of long-term consumption of cayenne pepper tea. However, there’s some concern that cayenne pepper tea may cause gastrointestinal issues in some individuals. In addition, consuming cayenne in excessive amounts may result in liver and or kidney damage (26).
Transient high blood pressure has been noted with cayenne pepper intake, particularly with higher concentrations. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, consult your doctor before using cayenne tea.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a compound that gives it its hot taste. Capsaicin may benefit the body in various ways.
Taking cayenne alone isn’t going to cause drastic weight loss. Make as many healthy choices in terms of eating as possible. You should also make sure that you drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is great for your overall health, and it helps to keep your body from becoming accustomed to the cayenne pepper.
Consider adding other herbs to your diet as well. Experts indicate that red pepper along with green tea can reduce feelings of hunger and increase feelings of fullness.
Still, many people enjoy the kick that cayenne pepper adds to savory foods, and the antioxidants in the pepper may help protect the body from a range of diseases.