Spice Up Your Summer Weight Loss

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scaleIt’s that time of year. Shorts, sleeveless tops, gauzy clothes, and, for the really brave, bathing suits. Ah, summer. That time of year when we come out of hibernation and panic over the 5 to 10 pounds we likely gained over the winter months.

As a result, we are hitting the gym, watching out diet, and often looking for ways to boost our metabolism while simultaneously curbing our hunger. Tough order! Fortunately, research has found that one solution may be sitting in the spice cabinet.

Sip Your Way to Skinny?

According to researchers, ginger may hold the answer to your weight loss prayers.[1] Previous research has shown that ginger reduces inflammation and promotes glucose sensitivity,[2] two factors associated with healthy weight. It has even been shown to boost serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter associated with appetite control.[3] However, much of the research on ginger and weight management and metabolic syndrome has been animal studies.

To determine what effect ginger consumption would have on humans in terms of metabolism and feelings of satiety, as well as biomarkers of metabolic syndrome, researchers performed a randomized, crossover study with 10 overweight men 19 to 50 years of age.

The men were tested on two separate days. Meals and testing were identical for each day, with one exception. On the control day, they were given hot water to drink. On the ginger day, the hot water was mixed with two grams of dried ginger powder.

For two days prior to each test day, the participants were asked to refrain from alcohol, spices and energy drinks. They were also asked to eat the same dinner the night before each test day.

On test days, they rested for 30 minutes upon arrival, then were checked for their resting metabolic rate. They were then given breakfast, which consisted of five mini corn muffins, orange juice, and either hot water or hot water with ginger, depending on the day.

Immediately before and again every hour for three hours, participants were asked to complete a visual analog scale (VAS) questionnaire about their feelings of satiety and appetite. They were also tested hourly for six hours for energy expenditure and thermic effect of food (TEF), which is determined by calculating the difference between the energy expenditure and the resting metabolic rate. Finally, researchers tested a variety of metabolic and inflammation biomarkers.

Spicy Results

At the end of the two test days, researchers learned that the ginger had a significant thermic effect, meaning that it likely boosted metabolism. Participants also reported less hunger and prospective food intake on their VAS questionnaires after ginger consumption. And there was a trend toward greater feelings of fullness after the ginger drink.

When it came to the biomarkers, ghrelin levels tended to be higher in the ginger test than the control. This is critical, as ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating hormone. Higher levels often indicate increased feelings of hunger.

After reviewing the results from both test days, researchers learned that ginger did, in fact, enhance satiety and reduce hunger, though it did not reduce biomarkers related to inflammation or metabolic syndrome.

Based on this, researchers concluded, “The present study has provided intriguing preliminary evidence that 2 grams of powdered ginger dissolved in hot water can induce a small but significant increase in TEF in healthy overweight men and influence feelings of satiety without any adverse side effects.”

Heat Up Your Weight Loss

Talk about a simple and tasty weight loss tip! And cost effective as well. To see if ginger can boost your weight loss efforts, plan to brew up a cup of steaming ginger.

Simply add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger to 4-6 ounces of hot water and stir until dissolved. If you want to sweeten it a bit, you can add stevia, a zero-calorie, natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Then sip, savor and let the ginger work its magic! Just don’t rely on the magic too much. Ginger is only a boost. You still need to rely on good, old-fashioned diet and exercise to get the most out of your weight loss efforts.

[1] Mansour MS et al. 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, doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2012.03.016.

[2] Nammi S et al. Protective effects of ethanolic extract of Zingiber officinale rhizome on the development of metabolic syndrome in high-fat diet-fed rats. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009;104:366-73.

[3] Goyal RK et al. Beneficial effects of Zingiber officinale on gold thioglucose induced obesity. Fitoterapia. 2006;77:160-3.

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