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“Spice” Up Your Metabolism

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD

“Spice” Up Your Metabolism

Most of us will burn fewer calories with time, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. While age, gender and muscle mass all play a role in metabolic speed, it may be possible to burn more calories with a spice that adds pizzazz to common foods.

Spice Up Your Metabolism

How Cayenne Pepper Works

To best control your weight, you should do a number of things to support your metabolism, including participating in regular exercise to maintain and build muscle, which burns more calories than fat. The calories in the food you eat and drink matter when in the battle of bulge, but you can only cut calories so far.

Cayenne pepper induces the body to use more calories. Capsaicin, a component of cayenne pepper, is at the core of an increased metabolic rate. Capsaicin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, and it’s responsible for cayenne pepper’s spicy flavor.

Research suggests that consuming capsaicin in the form of ground cayenne pepper may help suppress your appetite and prompt calorie-burning. Although the effects of cayenne pepper tend to be modest, every little bit helps. While more studies are needed to pinpoint the effectiveness of cayenne pepper, it may be beneficial to add moderate amounts to a healthy eating plan as part of an overall strategy to support your metabolism.

Spice Up Your Metabolism

How to Enjoy Cayenne Pepper

It appears that ? to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper may produce a decreased appetite and increased metabolic rate. If you’re not accustomed to spicy food, start slow and build up the amount of cayenne pepper in your diet. Keep a cold glass of milk or a piece of bread on stand-by to help tamp down any burning sensation caused by capsaicin. Water aggravates capsaicin’s effects, which usually go away as you become accustomed to cayenne pepper.

Keep a small container of cayenne pepper handy so you can add some to any of your meals, or use these tips for including cayenne pepper:

Spice Up Your Metabolism
  • Add ? to ? teaspoon to a deviled egg recipe or egg salad, or use the same amount when you scramble 6 eggs. 
  • Add some zing to burgers by combining 1 pound lean ground beef with ? teaspoon or more.
  • Spice up your favorite potato salad with ? to ? teaspoon.
Spice Up Your Metabolism
  • Elevate the flavor of fruit smoothies. In a blender or food processor, combine ? teaspoon with ? plain fat-free Greek yogurt, ? cup fresh strawberries, ? cup frozen mango chunks, and 2 ice cubes. Blend until smooth and drink immediately. ¨
  • Skip butter on corn on the cob: Combine 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon paprika and ? teaspoon ground cayenne pepper. Spread on cooked corn.

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