An Interview with the creator of the Hot Sauce Diet
After coming across an article on the Hot Sauce Diet (in the HSB Forum here), I reached out to Dr. Antoniades and asked him if he’d like to tell us a little more about this hot sauce inspired weight loss regime. After all, the HSB chileheads are most definitely within his target reader group. Spiro was kind enough to agree to an interview and was eager to share his success with the Hot Sauce Diet. Enjoy!
You need to lose weight, but how?
It can be done. Ignore the Obesity Industrial Complex. The answer is within you.
The Hot Sauce Diet was created and successfully self-implemented by a physician. This behavioral modification approach is described with honest simplicity and an injection of humor.
There is one caveat; you need to use a lot of hot sauce.
Were you into peppers and hot sauce before the diet?
I have always enjoyed an occasional hot pepper and hot sauce to spice up a meal. Once I started the diet I became a bona fide frequent flyer. I don’t think I’m a chile head yet.
How much hot sauce does one have to eat to loose weight?
There is no set amount of hot sauce you need to eat to lose weight. The essence of the diet is one of a behavioral modification program for people who are overweight and want to do something about it. You also have to like hot sauce. Everyone’s taste buds and body makeup are different.
The program steps detailed in the book are:
- 1. Understanding what is a normal way to eat. You must have a roadmap of where you want to go, otherwise you can’t get there.
- 2. Understanding the behaviors that caused your weight gain. This is hard to do as most people are in denial about how they became overweight.
- 3. Exercising one hour a day. What’s most important is not how far you go but just getting out there.
- 4. Using hot sauce to slow down your eating. The active ingredient capsaicin is also an appetite suppressant.
- 5. Using hot sauce to encourage drinking water while you eat. Everyone knows hot sauce and peppers are dipsogenic (definition: makes you thirsty or crave water). Sometimes when I overstep my own heat boundaries, I need a lot of water and fast!
- 6. Using the sting of hot sauce or peppers to discourage your abnormal eating behaviors. The behavioral term is aversive conditioning. Just like it is when you raise children, you must remember that you are punishing the behavior, not the child. With time the behaviors go away.
- 7. Maintaining healthy eating habits. Once you reach a desired weight and normal eating behavior, you use hot sauce on an as needed basis.
How long did it take to write the book?
The entire process of research, writing the book and loosing the weight took about 10 months in 2005.
What are the benefits of the hot sauce diet versus other popular diets?
The benefits are:
- 1. It’s cheap. No need for any fancy meals or classes. The book costs ten bucks.
- 2. It’s easy. You can find hot sauce or hot peppers in every grocery store or cafeteria. You can carry it with you anywhere. I keep a couple of condiment packets in my pocket at work for emergencies.
- 3. It’s trendy. Hot sauce and hot peppers are popular. There’s no “diet stigma”.
- 4. It’s lasting. Achieving normal eating behaviors and diet with one hour of exercise a day is a proven method of sustained weight loss. Hot sauce can get you there.
- 5. It’s fun. The 72 page book is full of humor and is easy to read.
What sauces do you recommend to loose weight? In the Book?
When it comes to the particular hot sauce I have no specific recommendations. I started with TabascoÂ®. At first I was a neophyte to the industry. The brand name TabascoÂ® was so strongly imprinted in my brain that I thought it was the name of the hot sauce active ingredient. I then got into Texas PeteÂ® and hot peppers from the grocery store. From there I branched out into a whole slew of different brands. I like them all.
When did you first make the connection between weight loss and hot sauce?
When I was in college I was really strapped for cash. My dad was an elementary school teacher putting three kids through college. Every dollar had to be stretched. When my friends and I would eat pizza, I tried to limit the amount I ate to save money. Time and time again, I would eat an entire pizza one slice at a time. I later found that covering my slices with hot peppers would slow down my eating, make me drink several glasses of water to cool the effect of the peppers, and limit my pizza expenses to only two slices. At the time I wasn’t trying to lose weight, just save money.
Later, when I realized that I needed to lose weight, I started thinking about hot peppers again. I didn’t know much about them so I hit the library and started researching. I’m a doctor and while my field, orthopedic surgery, doesn’t often deal with weight loss, I’ve always enjoyed learning about how the body works. What I learned led me to create my own diet.
How has the press reacted to your method?
Everyone who has read the book or interviewed me has been very receptive. the Ex Vozzella featured the book in her local column for the Baltimore Sun. CNN’s Sanjay Gupta covered my story with a segment aired last month on American Morning. The book title and the concept have created a lot of buzz.
On the web people have scoffed at the idea initially, thinking the diet is some sort of masochistic doctrine similar to the self-flagellating protagonist John Savage in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It’s not. After reading the 72-page book, most people enjoy the humorous tone and realize the concepts are very reasonable.
Any success stories?
For starters, my wife can attest that hot sauce has successfully helped me lose 70 pounds within a year in 2005. I’ve kept it off so far. Anecdotally, I’ve had a bunch of people who have told me they’ve lost 5-10 lb quickly. One of the cast technicians in my hospital has lost 30lb. this year.
Is heat level indicative to amount of weight loss?
No. I think everyone is different and has to adjust the heat level to what works.
Long Term effects?
Other than weight loss, I know of no known long term adverse effects. As with any diet or exercise program, you should first check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.
Personal favorite hot sauces?
Right now my favorite is an organic set of hot sauce samples I got from Brooks Pepperfire Foods. I always stock a TabascoÂ® bottle in the house. I still squirrel away a couple Texas PeteÂ® condiment packets from the cafeteria in my lab coat at work.
Spiro Antoniades, M.D.
Spiro Antoniades is an actively practicing orthopedic spine surgeon at the Maryland Spine Center in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Medical Doctorate at the Johns Hopkins University. His knowledge on exercise and nutrition has been based on his education and medical practice.