You may have heard of a capsaicin fat-burning tea recipe that includes cayenne pepper, water, maple syrup and lemon juice. This "Master Cleanse" is touted as a way to detox your body and bring about fast weight loss.
Much lore and research supports using cayenne pepper for weight loss, but it's a good idea to look into whether this drink really does do what it promises in terms of helping you skim pounds and achieve good health.
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The cayenne pepper weight-loss drink combines cayenne pepper and a few other ingredients. While cayenne pepper does have some benefits when it comes to weight management, this drink is not the magic weight-loss tonic some claim it to be, and it is neither a healthy nor sustainable weight-loss solution on its own.
Cayenne pepper is a natural herb that may help you lose weight. This red pepper contains the active compound capsaicin that may curb your appetite, speed up your metabolism and help you burn calories.
About the Cayenne Pepper Drink
The cayenne pepper diet drink has its origins in what is known as the "Master Cleanse" diet, which involves drinking 60 ounces of concoction made with water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper throughout the day, explains Harvard Health Publishing. You can think of it like a capsaicin tea for weight loss; drink it cold or warm. For the drink to work, you stick to it — and nothing else — for 10 days.
Supporters of this cleanse say its purpose is to restore energy, relieve symptoms of chronic conditions and, of course, help you lose weight.
Read more: The Best Way to Lose Weight in One Month
When used in the context of the Master Cleanse, the cayenne pepper weight-loss drink may induce weight loss because it's part of an extremely low-calorie diet.
But, as the Harvard Health paper notes, consuming so few calories can actually lower your basal metabolic rate as your body tries to conserve energy. It senses you're feeding it very little.
But, when you go back to consuming a regular meal plan, you'll likely regain the lost fluid and any pounds lost during the cleanse. You're weight goes back to where it was before you started the cleanse and sometimes even creeps up. The drink doesn't contain major nutrients, either, including protein, essential fatty acids and fiber.
Cayenne Pepper Reduces Appetite
Although drinking nothing but a cayenne pepper drink for days is not a great or healthy weight-loss strategy, adding more cayenne pepper to your day could be. You might increase your intake by drinking a few glasses of the drink daily (along with a portion-controlled, whole-foods diet) or by sprinkling cayenne pepper onto foods you eat, such as scrambled eggs, salad or rice.
A study published in a 2014 issue of Appetite showed that people who consumed red pepper with every meal experienced improved appetite control. They had greater feelings of fullness and fewer cravings.
Read more: One-Day Cleanse
The researchers determined that it's the compound, capsaicin, in the cayenne pepper that increases satiety, or feelings of fullness. The participants consumed about 1 gram of red chili pepper at every meal to get the appetite-suppressing effects. You could use the cayenne-water-lemon juice recipe or capsaicin tea to achieve appetite control too.
Cayenne Pepper Weight-Loss Benefits
Research also shows cayenne has potential for weight loss, so adding it as a very low- or no-calorie drink along with a healthy, low-calorie meal plan could boost weight-loss efforts.
The journal Bioscience Reports published a review paper in June 2017, in which researchers note that the capsaicin in chili peppers has, potentially, a major role in boosting metabolic health. It has no adverse effects, either, and cayenne is easily added to your daily diet.
A meta analysis published in Pharmacognosy Review in the January-June 2017 issue also notes that capsaicin in chili peppers has anti-cancer, anti-cholesterolemic, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In terms of obesity, cayenne pepper — consumed as a drink or otherwise — aids in the disintegration of fat, reduces calorie (or energy) and fat intake, improves calorie-burning ability and induces sensations of fullness. The exact dosage of cayenne pepper necessary to induce these effects, however, isn't yet clear.
Consuming a cayenne pepper weight-loss drink solely, as in the Master Cleanse, is not a good strategy for weight loss or health. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health affirms that no convincing evidence exists to support detox or cleansing programs that purport to remove toxins from your body, improve your health or lead to weight loss.
If you severely restrict calories and food, you can experience significant side effects, and the weight loss won't stick. If you drink only a cayenne pepper weight-loss drink, you may experience headaches, fainting, hunger pangs and nausea.
Read more: Just Say 'No' to That Detox Diet or Juice Cleanse
You might improve the weight-loss effects of cayenne by combining it with other substances. For example, green tea has positive associations with weight loss.
A study in Annals of Nutrition Metabolism published in 2017 showed that a combination of green tea, capsaicin and ginger in a supplement led to a significant decrease in weight in women with overweight compared to placebo. The supplement contained 125 milligrams of green tea, 25 milligrams of capsaicin and 50 milligrams of ginger extract. The dosage was taken twice with lunch and twice with dinner for eight weeks.
You can create a similar capsaicin tea for weight loss by mixing ginger and cayenne pepper into a cup of green tea. It isn't clear, however, whether a homemade concoction will work.
Cayenne and Better Digestion
Consuming more cayenne pepper can improve digestive health, which can be of value to weight loss and overall feelings of good health.
The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine published research in June 2016 detailing some of these positive effects including:
- Reduction of symptoms of GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Inhibition of gastrointestinal viruses and bacteria that cause digestive distress
- Discouragement of cancer and ulcers
- Regulation of gastrointestinal secretions and ability to absorb nutrients
A study performed on rats and published in Revista de Gastroenterologia del Peru in the April-June 2015 issue determined that capsaicin actually prevented gastric ulcers. Humans may experience the same positive effect by consuming more cayenne pepper.
- Appetite: "Capsaicin Increases Sensation of Fullness in Energy Balance, and Decreases Desire to Eat After Dinner in Negative Energy Balance"
- Revista de Gastroenterologia del Peru: "[Effect of Capsicum annum L (pucunucho, ají mono) in Gastric Ulcer Experimentally Induced in Rats]"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Dubious Practice of Detox"
- Pharmacognosy Review: "Current Understanding of Antiobesity Property of Capsaicin"
- Bioscience Reports:"Dietary Capsaicin and Its Anti-obesity Potency: From Mechanism to Clinical Implications"
- Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine: "Phytochemistry and Gastrointestinal Benefits of the Medicinal Spice, Capsicum annuum L. (Chilli): A Review"
- Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Effect of Dietary Supplements Containing Green Tea, Capsaicin and Ginger Extracts on Weight Loss and Metabolic Profiles in Overweight Women: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial"