chilli

Can eating more chilli help with weight loss?

We explain how...

Alice Howarth

Can eating more chilli aid weight loss? Short answer: Yes! Here's how: usually when hoping to shed a few pounds you'll typically restrict certain foods (combined with a healthy dose of exercise, of course) but it's not often people tell you to increase eating particular foods, is it? Turns out, incorporating more chilli into your diet could be a game-changer if you're wanting to lose unwanted weight. Here's how it works:

What happens in the body when you eat chilli?

Ever got a flush of heat or even broken into a sweat while eating that extra hot curry? That’s down to Capsaicin, an active component that gives chilli peppers their heat. This component not only speeds up the metabolism  but the heat it causes you to feel has added benefits for weight loss too. Why? Because as many studies have proven, the warmer you are, the smaller your appetite tends to be. A perfect example of this was proven by a study of North American soldiers during World War II. Scientists tracked their rations intake when in the Arctic and when in the desert. When the soldiers were in the Arctic, with temperatures around -34 degrees celsius, they consumed on average 20,500 KJ of rations. When in the desert, where 33 degrees celcius was normal, it dropped to 13,000 KJ. Fascinating, right?

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Capsaicin also has the ability to turn white fat into brown fat. White fat is the most common fat in the body and is used primarily as a source of energy and cushioning. Brown fat's purpose, on the other hand, is to burn calories to generate heat for the body – simply put, it burns calories instead of storing them. An all-round superfood, chillis have also been proven to reduce blood pressure, help arthritis, aid digestion and support the cardiovascular system. They just so happen to contain up to seven times the level of Vitamin C than an orange too.

How much chilli should you consume each day?

Like everything else, you should consume it in moderation in your dishes. Don't start eating whole ones on the go… you'll probably regret it.

What are the best ways to incorporate it into your diet?

Even if you don't like spice, the good thing is that you can select mild chillies from most supermarkets (the heat level is usually displayed on packets) and work your way up. The more you eat it, the more tolerant you'll become to it so don't fear for your stinging eyes and burning tongue.

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Incredibly versatile, you can add it to roast veggies, stir-fries, curries (of course), salads and all manner of savoury dishes. You can use it in dressings, sauces and marinades and even as a desert option – think dark chilli chocolate or mousse. Really the best way to get to know its power and flavour is just to experiment.

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