“Cap” The Calories
Turns out the burning sensation you get from chili peppers isn’t just for your taste buds. Capsaicin—the culprit in chili peppers that brings the heat—has been touted as a metabolism booster for years now, with studies to back it up. One interesting paper published by online journal PLOS ONE in 2013 even pinpointed an ideal amount: 2.56 milligrams per meal for those on low-calorie diets. What they found was that approximately a quarter teaspoon of capsaicin, equivalent to 39,050 Scoville heat units, per meal helped somewhat offset the typical energy expenditure decrease that occurs when we’re in lower-calorie mode. The capsaicin also prompted more fat oxidation compared to those who didn’t sprinkle on the hot stuff. While this study isn’t conclusive evidence in favor of chili pepper and fat loss, it can’t hurt to add some to your meals, especially if you’re on an especially restrictive shredding-mode diet.
Early Birds Get The Burn
Bleary eyed, pre-dawn bouts on the treadmill before your first meal may not sound like a ton of fun—but science is proving the practice effective. In a study of multiple studies published in the British Journal Of Nutrition in September 2016, researchers gathered data on 27 trials that compared the metabolic effects of aerobic exercise on those in fasted and “fed” states. Based on measures of plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin in 273 adults, significantly higher fat oxidation—the technical term for “fat burning”—took place in those who were doing cardio on an empty stomach when compared to those with food in their system. If you’re just not a morning person, you can still put these findings to good use by foregoing food a couple of hours before your workout.
A recent culinary fad may also prove to be a new weapon in the battle of the bulge. Acai, the trendy Brazilian fruit, may help reduce obesity and battle the effects of a high-fat diet on the liver—according to a preliminary study on mice, at least. As detailed in the 2015 paper published in PLOS ONE, mice who consumed a high-fat diet and were given Acai extract didn’t gain weight and showed significantly improved plasma and tissue metabolic profiles. They also maintained liver-fat levels comparable to mice fed a normal diet. The researchers contend that the beneficial effects of acai involve blunting fat formation, increasing cholesterol disposal, and reducing oxidative stress in the liver. The results still need to be corroborated in humans, of course, but at worst, you have a brand-new tasty ingredient to toss into your next protein shake.