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What Are the Best Spices and Herbs for Weight Loss?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 9, 2021

Let’s face the truth:

You can’t expect sustainable weight loss results without a clean, balanced diet and regular exercise.

Luckily, healthy food doesn’t have to be blunt. Some herbs can make it tastier.

Besides adding flavor to your food, research shows that particular herbs can boost metabolism, improve digestion, and target visceral belly fat, helping you shed excess pounds faster.

We’ve asked our dietitians what spices have the most power to make you slimmer and how they work.

Here’s what scientific evidence shows.

6 Spices That Burn Fat Effectively

Different spices in an organized manner

Popular herbs and spices scientists recommend to help your body burn fat and some extra calories faster include:

1. Cayenne Pepper

Researchers claim that capsaicin, a chemical commonly found in red pepper in a significant amount providing its powerful spicy kick, can reduce hunger and calorie intake by decreasing the levels of hunger hormone ghrelin [1].

Studies also say that daily consumption of capsaicin can increase body heat, helping boost metabolism and burn around 100 calories per meal, enhancing belly fat loss [2] [3].

“Capsaicinoids are a group of chemicals naturally occurring in chili peppers. They have properties that may help to support weight management. [...] A daily consumption of capsaicin may contribute to weight loss through reductions in energy intake.” -Dr. Emma Derbyshire, Registered Public Health Nutritionist 

So, if you like spicy foods, don’t hesitate to add this warming spice to homemade dips, salad dressings, hot sauce, or soups. You can also sprinkle a pinch of ground cayenne pepper on grilled fish, plain chicken, other meats, rice, scrambled eggs, even roasted nuts or smoothies.

2. Ginger

A ginger in white background

Some studies indicate that ginger helps obese and overweight women and men decrease their waist-to-hip ratio and fat absorption, ensuring they lose more weight and get a slimmer waistline [4].

This thermogenic spice can also reduce appetite, helping you control blood sugar and preventing glucose spikes after eating sugar- or carb-rich foods.

It’s also known as a natural remedy that helps soothe pain, lower inflammation, ease nausea, and various digestion issues, accelerate gastric emptying, and more.

Try grating fresh ginger over baked fish, into a stir-fry, fruit salad, marinade, soup, tea, or smoothie.

3. Cinnamon

An animal study has found that this aromatic spice rich in powerful antioxidants polyphenols can reduce the accumulation of belly fat. Many other studies have also proven that cinnamon may help stabilize blood glucose, improve insulin sensitivity, and curb food cravings.

Sprinkle cinnamon on your coffee, tea, yogurt, smoothie, oatmeal, roasted apple slices, oranges, savory marinades for chicken and other meats, but use no more than one teaspoon a day as too much of it can be toxic.

4. Black Pepper

Black pepper on a spoon

A study has shown that piperine, the active ingredient of this commonly used spice, effectively inhibits the new fat cell formation, helps decrease triglyceride, cholesterol levels, and weight in rats fed a high-fat diet, even without changes in their food intake [5].

Besides lowering weight and preventing weight gain, piperine also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.

A few grinds of black pepper can add flavor and that extra kick to almost everything you eat, including roasted chicken, grilled meat and veggies, eggs, cottage cheese, avocado toast, oatmeal, or any other food you like.

5. Turmeric

A study on mice from Tufts University and other solid scientific evidence suggests that high doses of curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, can effectively reduce inflammation and aid weight loss in people and animals by raising their body temperature, increasing metabolic rate, and blocking the synthesis of fats.

Your body can best absorb this brightly colored yellow spice if you eat it in combination with black pepper.

Add it to stews and soups, or sprinkle it over roasted veggies, eggs, quinoa, curry dishes, or nuts.

If you don't like its taste, you can try a turmeric supplement instead.

6. Cumin

Cumin on a wooden spoon

Besides adding great flavor to the food you eat, recent studies say that just one tablespoon of cumin daily can help overweight people shed three times more body fat, reduce waist size, and improve digestion, heart health, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

You can season almost any food with this universal spice - soups, stews, stir-fries, yogurt, dressings, marinades, rubs, dips, lentils, tacos, roasted vegetables, flatbread, and other savory baked food.

FAQs

What Spice Blocks Fat Cells?

Recent animal studies found that eating black pepper and turmeric may help you maintain or reduce body weight and prevent obesity as their ingredients piperine and curcumin can block the formation of new fat cells, i.e., adipose tissue growth [6] [7] [8].

However, there’s only limited evidence in lab and animal studies, so further human research is needed to determine whether piperine and curcumin can effectively inhibit adipogenesis, i.e., fat cell formation in humans.

Can Turmeric Burn Belly Fat?

Research shows that curcumin, a powerful compound from turmeric with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, can suppress fat tissue growth, regulate metabolism, and balance blood glucose levels to prevent insulin resistance, which can help reduce waist circumference [9] [10].

Does Red Chili Burn Fat?

According to some studies, red chili pepper has thermogenic effects and fat-burning properties, so it can help you burn calories and body fat, suppress appetite and speed up weight loss in combination with a healthy lifestyle [11] [12].

Is Green Chili Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, green chili is good for weight loss as it contains no calories and can boost your metabolism. Plus, it’s abundant in antioxidants and other active compounds proven to balance blood sugar, improve immunity, cardiovascular health, mood, and more.

Can Spices Help You Lose Weight?

Many herbs and spices, including the ones mentioned above, plus mustard seeds, cardamom, rosemary, oregano, ginseng, saffron, fenugreek, coriander, garlic, Caralluma Fimbriata, Gymnema Sylvestre, etc. may help you lose weight, some better than others.

These spices mostly speed up your metabolism and help curb cravings and flush impurities from your body, slightly enhancing weight loss.

Although eating spicy foods probably won’t drastically influence your waist circumference, it can undoubtedly bring numerous other health benefits.

However, if you consider using herbal supplements, I’d suggest you ask your doctor to provide medical advice as some spices may be toxic in higher doses.

Let us know what’s your favorite fat-burning spice and how it has helped you shed extra pounds.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15611784/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24246368/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22378725/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29393665/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3113382/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22463744/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28839007/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29445415/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31249528/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26592847/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10211048/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8926537/

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