Subjects: R and D
Most of us know we can expect to feel a burning sensation when we consume jalapenos or other hot peppers. But few peope know that such spicy fare might also increase body temperature via a mechanism that burns calories just as effectively as exercise.
At least that’s what scientists at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition seem to have discovered during a recent trial involving 34 volunteers who were trying to peel off some pounds.
The tongue-scorching effects of spicy peppers comes from capsaicin, a chemical produced by plants to discourage animals from turning them into dinner. These same plants also produce a milder tasting analogue known as dihydrocapsiate (DCT).
The UCLA scientists randomized the study subjects to receive either DCT or a placebo with their meals. They subsequently measured the subjects’ energy expenditure and found it to be highest among the cohort that had received DCT. In fact, it was nearly twice as high as in those receiving the dummy pill, and the phenomenon was associated with increased fat burning as well.
The scientists warn however that their findings are preliminary, since their subjects were placed on a low-calorie liquid diet, and it’s not clear the same results would be seen among people on a normal diet. The researchers also said the energy-burning effects of DCT might not be seen in folks who are of normal weight to begin with.
The findings were presented during an April meeting of a conference known as the Experimental Biology 2010 meeting, which was held in in Anaheim.