While quality supplements can be an important part of your nutritional program, it’s best to get as much help as possible from whole foods.
Adding a variety of herbs and spices to your diet not only keeps you from getting bored with a healthy eating plan, it can also get you to your fat loss goals more quickly. Several herbs and spices have been shown to help boost metabolism and promote fat loss.
Using some of these helpers in your daily meals is a win-win all around; these herbs and spices will make your food more interesting and help you stay committed to eating well while their properties help speed up your fat loss.
Cinnamon has been studied quite heavily in the last few years because of its several abilities to improve overall health. In the realm of metabolism and fat loss, cinnamon has been shown to decrease serum blood sugar by increasing glucose metabolism by as much as 20 times. This can also help decrease blood cortisol levels, as high levels of insulin also prompt a cortisol response.
It’s important to note that the cinnamon you can generally buy in the grocery store will not have these effects. Most commercially-sold cinnamon is actually made of cinnamon-flavored sawdust. You’ll need to source pure cinnamon in either stick or powder form from a health food store or online resource.
Ginseng has been added to “weight loss” teas and energy drinks for years because of its metabolism boosting properties. It provides a quick burst of energy similar to caffeine that can help you work out longer and at a higher intensity.
One type of ginseng, panax ginseng, has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity as well, ensuring that more of your nutrients you eat make it to the muscle cells to be burned as fuel, instead of being stored for later use in your fat cells.
3. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper, as well as fresh chili peppers of several varieties, have wonderful thermogenic properties due to their capsaicin content.
Among the research findings on cayenne pepper: that its thermogenic effect can boost fat burning by as much as 16% and that this effect can also help counter the decrease in base metabolism during weight loss. Another benefit of cayenne and other peppers is that they act as a vasodilator – expanding the blood vessels – so that your muscles fatigue less rapidly and recover much more quickly.
4. Mustard seed
Mustard seeds have been shown to boost metabolism significantly. In one recent study, researchers found that just 3/5 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds helped participants burn as many as 45 extra calories per hour.
Mustard seed can easily be added to salads, soups, stews and dressings and are easily found in gourmet shops locally and online.
Turmeric, considered the affordable version of saffron, is what gives curry its rich flavor and deep yellow color. It’s delicious in all kinds of soups and stews, adding richness without heat, but it’s also great for your fat loss.
This is due to turmeric’s curcurmin content. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the development of new fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels used to form fat cells. This process is called adipogenesis and curcumin is believed to inhibit communication through these blood vessels that stimulates the development of fat cells.
Curcumin also helps aid fat loss due to its anti-inflammatory effects. By reducing inflammation, muscle recovery is aided, helping to make your workouts more effective at building new muscle and increasing your base metabolic rate.
Try to source the freshest and highest-quality of these products and check expiration dates frequently, as the dried ingredients do lose potency within a year to two years. It’s also best to keep them out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, such as your stove.
To make fresh ginger and ginseng roots last longer, wrap in a damp paper towel and place in a resealable bag to store in the fridge for up to a month. Just cut off or peel what you need for each meal.
Using these herbs and spices in your daily meals will make those meals much more enjoyable, make it easier and more pleasant for you stick with your nutritional plan and help you to speed up your metabolism and your fat loss so that you can reach your fat loss goals more quickly.
Anoja S. Attele et al. Antidiabetic Effects of Panax ginseng Berry Extract and the Identification of an Effective Component. Diabetes June 2002 vol. 51 no. 6 1851-1858.
Joo J, Kim DH, Choi JW, Yun JW. Proteomic analysis for anti-obesity potential of capsaicin on white adipose tissue in rats fed with a high fat diet. Journal of Proteome Research 2010 Jun 4;9(6):2977-87
Hursel R1, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Thermogenic ingredients and body weight regulation. International Journal of Obesity (London). 2010 Apr;34(4):659-69.
Ejaz A, Wu D, Kwan P, Meydani M. Curcumin inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and angiogenesis and obesity in C57/BL mice. Journal of Nutrition. 2009 May;139(5):919-25
Mansour MS1, Ni YM, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, Roychoudhury A, St-Onge MP. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study. Metabolism. 2012 Oct;61(10):1347-52.