There’s been a long-held belief that eating specific foods increases metabolism and helps you to shed pounds. “Hot and spicy” are the oft-recommended consumables; The more you eat, the more you sweat and the greater the thermogenic effect – but does this really work?
Eating specific foods will cause a slightly elevated metabolism but let’s examine the effect of such foods and see if there’s a measurable difference in metabolic rate.
Myth #9: Spicy Foods Will Raise Your Metabolism
There’s some truth to this myth but not relative to what how most people believe the spicy food/metabolism relationship works. Unfortunately, the metabolic increase is minimal at best.
Let’s look at three different studies pertaining to the relationship of spicy food and metabolism.
In a controlled study by Purdue University1 scientists, red peppers were administered to a group of 25 adults – 13 being individuals who often ate spicy foods and the other 12 representing those who rarely or never ate spicy foods.
The study participants were given up to 10 grams of red peppers per meal while measuring heat expenditure and appetite.
The findings concluded that red peppers did elevate metabolic rate – but only for the group that did not normally eat spicy foods. There’s an apparent desensitization that occurs by repeated exposure to spicy foods.
It’s worth mentioning that 10 grams was reported to be far more than an average amount of red pepper consumption during an average meal.
Unfortunately, this study did not give any numbers regarding how much metabolism increased – so it’s on to another study we go.
The effect of capsinoids on metabolic rate was examined in a 2010 Pennington Research Center study2.
Capsinoids are naturally present substances in chili peppers – and they’re the reason that beads of sweat start appearing on your forehead after eating peppers.
For this study, 13 adults were administered four different doses of the capsinoids, and a placebo dose, after being in an overnight fasted state. Resting metabolic rate was measured 45 minutes before and 2 hours after the capsinoids were consumed.
Not only did the participants experience no increase in metabolic rate, there was neither an increase in blood pressure nor body temperature.
From the above two studies, we can ascertain that metabolism is only slightly increased during the ingestion of hot and spicy foods for individuals who are not acclimated to such eating.
We’re still in search of specific numbers so let’s look at one more study.
In yet another study by those guys at Pennington, 78 people were evaluated for the effects of dihydrocapsiate on metabolic rate3.
Remember those capsinoids in our second study? Well dihydrocapsiate is a specific type of capsinoid contained in peppers.
This study lasted a full month. After starting each day with a 10-hour overnight fast, participants were given a placebo, 3 grams of dihydrocapsiate or 9 grams of dihydrocapsiate.
For this experiment, researchers tested resting metabolic rate (RMR) 30 minutes before and 2 hours after consumption.
The results indicated only a variance of 50 calories being burned, which was said to be in the range of RMR variability. Most importantly, fat oxidation was unaffected by dihydrocapsiate.
Hot and Spicy Conclusions
The scientific evidence proves that hot and spicy foods will only raise metabolism just slightly – so little that expecting 50 extra calories to be burned in a single day might be expecting too much – requiring a significant amount of hot foods to be eaten.
Keep in mind that hot and spicy foods will never likely be a part of every meal – unless you’re man enough to survive those repeated visits to the throne room.
Even in cases where metabolism did increase, the effects were blunted and eventually eliminated for individuals who consumed such foods on a regular basis.
If burning an extra 50 calories a day means that much to you, there’s a far easier way – take a ten minute walk down your street. Grab an Amiigo if you’re wanting to know exactly how many calories you’re burning.
Eating hot and spicy foods to improve metabolism is yet another myth that isn’t going to see you getting the results that can be attained by simply eating right and exercising regularly.