Appetite suppresants come in different forms - pills, supplements, drinks, and more. Even though some pills out there may be more convenient and may even produce quicker results, many health authorities continue to warn against their consumption.
Dangers include risky side effects, interactions with other medications one may be taking, aritificial ingredients, additives, colors, and fillers, or even ingredients that are not listed on the packaging. Thankfully, though, there are whole food options out there that can help you avoid overeating without the dangers and side effects of pills. We've already discussed several of these foods or other strategies to control appetite without the use of potentially dangerous substances.
This month we highlight another food with science-backed appetite-suppressing powers - spicy foods containing capsaicin or capsiate.
Turn Up the Heat to Eat Less
Capsaicin is the major pungent principle in hot peppers. Nonpungent peppers are rich in capsiate. Both have been shown to help suppress appetite, which is a plus for those who can't handle the heat of hot peppers.
In high doses, both the pungent capsaicin and the mild capsiate enhance fat and calorie burning. 1, 6 Though modest, research shows including these compounds in the diet can help with weight management.2 For example, one study found that including spicy red pepers helped people get their mind off of food and decreased their desire to eat salty, sweet, or fatty foods. 3
Other studied appetite-suppressing effects of capsaicin include reports of decreased desire for hot foods, decreased desire to eat generally, and a decreased sense of hunger generally.2
Capsaicin has been shown to reduce concentrations of the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin. 4 Additionally, capsaicin is reported to enhance the feeling of fullness even during calorically restricted diets. 5 In fact, one study showed it even increased concentrations of the glucagon-like peptide 1 hormone. This hormone is known to reduce appetite. 4
Pepper Varieties Galore
What are some pepper varieties rich in capsaicin? They include anaheim, ancho, banana peppers, cayenne, chipotle, ghost peppers, habaneros, jalapeno, poblano, serrano and many more. They work great in spicy dishes like curries, stir fry, or chilies. Pickle them. Puree them. Put them in your favorite dishes.
1. Janssens PLHR, Hursel R, Martens EAP, Westerterp-Plantenga MS (2013) Acute Effects of Capsaicin on Energy Expenditure and Fat Oxidation in Negative Energy Balance. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67786. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067786
2. Ludy, M. J., Moore, G. E., & Mattes, R. D. (2011). The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. Chemical senses, 37(2), 103-21.
3. Ludy MJ, Mattes RD. The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite. Physiol Behav. 2011b;102:251–258.
4. Eur J Nutr. 2009 Jun;48(4):229-34. doi: 10.1007/s00394-009-0006-1. Epub 2009 Feb 24.
5. Reinbach HC, Smeets A, Martinussen T, Møller P, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effects of capsaicin, green tea and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance. Clin Nutr. 2009;28:260–265. 6. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Jun;29(6):682-8.