Yesterday, I was talking with my good friend Jessica. She’s teaching English in Korea, and we were professing our shared love for a Korean food called kimchi. It’s basically a spicy pickled cabbage – and though it doesn’t sound great to most westerners, it’s delicious!
Jessica mentioned that some Koreans believe kimchi possesses special powers. We both laughed, but then she mentioned that those special powers include weight loss. I told Jessica that there’s probably some truth to this belief, as numerous studies have connected spiciness to weight loss.
According to the research, spicy foods do play a small but relatively significant role in losing weight. One study divided obese dieters into two groups. One group consumed spicy and flavored foods while the other group did not. The spicy dieters lost 30 pounds in 6 months, while the control group lost 2 pounds. Another study that was published in Physiology and Behavior looked at the effects of spices such as red chili pepper, capsaicin, black pepper, and ginger on metabolism and weight loss. Turns out, the spices boosted the metabolism of the dieters and increased the rate at which fat was burned.
Beyond the metabolism-boosting benefits of spicy foods, researchers speculate that adding spices to otherwise healthy but often bland foods (like veggies) may make those foods more appealing. It’s also speculated that dieters consume less of a spicy food, and that smaller portions are more satisfying for our taste buds.
The bottom line: Adding some cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, chilies, hot peppers, etc. can be a great compliment to your diet or nutrition program. And if you haven’t tried kimchi, you gotta.