Do some foods help us to lose weight?  Everyone always wants the magic bullet.  We want to take this supplement or that supplement to melt away fat and lose weight in time for that vacation or wedding in 2 weeks.  Worse, we believe we can’t do it without help and undergo physiology-changing bariatric surgery.

I usually tell patients that, if they want guaranteed, rapid weight loss than amputation is the answer.  Unless you have salamander ancestry, this weight ain’t coming back.  This may not actually help you to fit into that particular dress, but the scale may reflect a better number.

However, are there really simple things that can be done that may increase the amount of calories that we burn by a small amount?  Could the combination of small increases in calories burned multiplied by 6 months or a year lead to real weight loss?

Clearly, research has supported the intake of compounds like green tea and cinnamon as increasing weight loss.  Again, these numbers are small–usually on the range of 3-6 pounds or so over 6 months.

Brown fat is the miracle weight loss fat in our bodies.  Mammals use brown fat to turn up the thermostat, so to speak.  It is a way of burning calories merely to generate heat and keep us warm.  Babies and bats are well known to have higher amounts of brown fat, but humans lose brown fat as we age.

This particular article looks at the effect of a capsinoids, a natural compound found in chili peppers, on brown fat.  Basically, a portion of the participants in this trial still had some degree of brown fat present that heated up in response to cold temperatures.

When these same participants were given the capsinoids orally, their energy expenditure jumped up a small amount even without the cold exposure.  Essentially, their basal metabolic rate (BMR) went up as a result of oral intake of these compounds.

This does not mean that you should run out and drop money on the latest and greatest capsinoids supplement you can find.  But is does suggest that frequent consumption of chili peppers may help with weight management in the long run.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.