Burning Calories In The “Real World”
A considerable amount of scientific research suggests that key ingredients in coffee (caffeine), hot red pepper (capsaicin), cinnamon (polyphenols) and green tea (catechins) have a modest ability to increase your calorie-burning rate or in some other way assist with weight loss and protection against obesity.* While taking larger doses may produce stronger weight loss effects, it also increases the risk of undesirable “side” effects.
Here are a couple of examples. As scientists who have studied capsaicin point out, most Westerners would find it very difficult if not impossible to get enough of his compound from the diet (e.g. as by adding hot red pepper to meals) to achieve a fat-reducing effect9. It’s just too painful. Others have shown that caffeine or coffee only produce increases in 24-hour calorie-burning rate (i.e. as opposed to an increase that only lasts an hour or two) when doses in the range of 600-1000 mg of caffeine are ingested3. That’s equivalent to drinking 6-12 cups of coffee in a single day, levels known to produce disturbances in mood (e.g. anxiety) and blood pressure in some individuals.
Even the relatively smaller doses found to produce modest benefits (without undesirable side effects) in studies may be impractical to achieve by relying on the diet alone. Studies on cinnamon, for example, have used the equivalent of anywhere from 1-10 g of cinnamon powder, quantities not ordinarily used in food. While it may be possible to get enough cinnamon from the diet to lose body fat, USDA scientist Dr. Richard Anderson (Ph.D.) explains that cinnamon obtained this way may be “inactivated” by polyphenol-binding proteins secreted by your salivary glands10. Others, like Dr. Andrew Blannin (Ph.D.) think that it would be extremely hard to consume enough cinnamon to produce improvements in insulin sensitivity without taking supplements11.*
In light of everything we’ve discussed, it could be argued that the most sensible approach is to take just enough of each ingredient to produce a small calorie-burning effect so that the overall effect is that much greater. Unfortunately, based on studies like those referred to here, putting such a “team approach” into practice by relying on the diet only could amount to drinking 3-4 cups of green tea, adding hot red peppers to several meals and swallowing 10 g of cinnamon, all followed by at least one, if not 2, 3, 4 or more, cups of black coffee. If that doesn’t sound delicious, then we don’t know what does. There’s got to be a simpler way.
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