Most people think that spicy food is good for them because of the abundance of antioxidants it contains. Being anti-inflammatory in action, these compounds are good for digestion, and thus body health in general. However, did you know that consuming spicy food can actually sabotage your weight loss goals? If you want to get rid of that extra pound, you should probably skip dishes with chilli in them! We looked at the evidence behind this hypothesis and whether you should hold back on the hot sauce or save it for later.
Does Spicy Food Help You Lose Weight?
Yes, Spicy Food Can Help You Lose Weight! According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers analyzed the dietary habits of more than 2,600 participants from various backgrounds, including overweight and obese patients. They grouped the subjects into four categories based on the spices and herbs they consumed: low, medium, high and very high exposure to spices. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, the scientists found that the higher the intake of spices among the participants, the lower their body mass index (BMI), suggesting that spices can help in weight loss.
Another study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, had similar findings. The authors investigated whether spicy food consumption could be linked to changes in body fat distribution in overweight and obese adults. After reviewing 26 studies, they concluded that “curry and other types of spiced foods may exert beneficial effects on body weight and composition by reducing visceral adipose tissue.” This means that eating spicy food could help in reducing fat storage in your belly.
It’s not just weight loss that spicy food can help with. According to the World Health Organization, being overweight or obese increases your risk of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Some studies have even shown that spicy foods can help prevent type 2 diabetes. This could be because the spice cayenne, when applied to the skin, acts as a vasodilator, increasing the blood flow to the surface of the skin. As human skin is a vast organ in our body that regulates our body temperature, the blood flow brought on by the application of cayenne helps maintain a healthy body temperature.
The Problem With Spicy Food
You might be thinking that this is great news, as it means you can eat what you want and still lose weight. But there’s a problem with this approach. When you eat spicy food, you are increasing your body’s insulin resistance. This occurs when cells in your body become less responsive to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. As a result, your blood sugar levels rise after eating food, even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes. This could potentially lead to other health problems, such as heart disease. In fact, studieshave shown that those with the highest insulin resistance had, on average, a 12.6% higher BMI than those with the lowest insulin resistance.
Why Do You Need To Watch Out For Insulin Resistance?
Even healthy individuals who don’t have type 2 diabetes need to be careful about what they eat, as they still stand a chance of developing this disease. One of the things that make you more prone to type 2 diabetes is your insulin resistance. If you want to stay healthy, you need to decrease your insulin resistance, as much as possible. And in case you’re wondering, insulin resistance is mainly caused by a disease called obesity.
When you’re not obese, your insulin resistance is usually low. However, as you gain weight, your insulin resistance goes up. This makes it harder for your body to utilize glucose, resulting in higher blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to serious problems, such as kidney damage and heart disease. So it’s important to keep your insulin resistance under control, especially if you’re already taking measures to lose weight.
Spicy Foods And Your Belly Fat
While it’s great to decrease your weight and improve your overall health, you should not sacrifice flavor for your waistline. As discussed, eating spicy food can help reduce your belly fat. However, you should not eat too much of it, as this could cause you to gain more weight. So what’s a healthy serving size? One study divided the participants into four groups and instructed them to eat three servings per day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon, a small glass of wine, or a small bowl of pasta. The results of this study showed that while the BMI of all the groups decreased, those who ate the cheapest spice, chile, had the highest reduction in their BMI. The scientists concluded that “even mild levels of chili consumption may promote significant weight loss in non-Hispanic white adults with metabolic syndrome.” In other words, while eating a small amount of spice can help you lose weight, too much of it can cause you to gain more weight.
This makes sense because spices contain a taste factor, which most people experience as an immediate boost to their appetite. When your taste buds are stimulated, it often causes you to want to eat more. In some cases, this can lead to eating disorders, especially among adolescents. So while spices can help you lose weight, too much of it can potentially cause you to gain more weight than you want. Thus, it would be best to eat the right amount of the right spices to achieve the benefits they offer.
As a general rule of thumb, you should only eat spices in small amounts. One study showed that when participants were asked to taste a spice every day for a week, their insulin resistance increased by 17%, and after a month, it went back up by 23.7%. Because of this, the scientists concluded that “even mild levels of chili consumption may promote significant weight loss in non-Hispanic white adults with metabolic syndrome.” Eating spices daily for a month is equivalent to approximately one teaspoon. So not only does it help you lose weight, it also keeps your metabolism stable, which is great for your overall health. One last note about spices and diabetes: it’s not just about diabetes. Because of their effects on blood sugar, spices could potentially help prevent heart disease, kidney disease, and brain diseases as well.
Antioxidants: The Missing Link?
Antioxidants are compounds that act as free radicals scavengers, protecting our organs and cells from damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can lead to cell damage. There are many different antioxidants that prevent free radicals, but the two most important ones are glutathione and vitamin C. Vitamin C is very important for our immune system and cells, preventing infections. While glutathione is an antioxidant that protects our cells from toxins, ensuring they function properly.
These compounds have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels. Thus, eating spices could potentially lead to healthier and happier you. Of course, the reverse is also true: being overweight increases your risk of many diseases. Therefore, it’s important that you continue to eat healthily and exercise regularly, regardless of whether or not you want to lose weight. The choice is yours. But if you are worried about your weight, it would be beneficial to avoid the chilli pepper and opt for a saltier alternative. With regards to this last point, if you eat too much salt you will retain water and eventually become obese! So it’s always a question of moderation.