Does Spicy Food Burn Fat? (The Science Behind Capsaicin)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: January 26, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Christiana Mikesch, CPT
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As a fitness trainer for over ten years, I consistently research natural ways to help my clients improve their metabolism and expedite weight loss.

My dietitian mentioned years ago that spicy food affects metabolism, but it involves more than just adding hot sauce to a sandwich. So I conducted focused research on the matter.

I also collaborated with our nutritionist to explore impactful studies on how eating spicy foods can genuinely contribute to weight loss.

Here’s what my research has revealed.

Quick Summary

  • Spicy foods can help burn fat because the capsaicin found in them can help increase body temperature and improve metabolism.
  • Along with burning more energy and weight management, there are also health benefits to eating spicy foods.
  • Daily consumption of spicy foods could potentially increase life expectancy by up to 14 percent.
  • In my opinion, while incorporating spicy foods may add a minor boost to fat loss, it's crucial to focus on diet, exercise, and natural fat-burning supplements for lasting results.

How Does Eating Spicy Foods Impact Your Body?

Spicy food on table

Eating spicy foods can impact your body by triggering a thermogenic effect, which slightly raises your body temperature and burns more calories, according to the National Institute of Health [1].

This calorie burn primarily comes from stored body fat. However, it's essential to note that simply adding chilies to unhealthy foods won't compensate for poor dietary choices.

According to the same health research institute, the fat-burning effect is attributed to capsaicin, found in higher concentrations in spicy ingredients, which signals the brain to boost fat metabolism, releasing more energy [2].

“Capsaicin is one of many alkaloids that is referred to as Capsaicinoids, which are commonly associated with chili products of the family Solanaceae (subfamily capsicum).”

- Kamal Patel, Editor & Co-founder of examine.com

Examples of Spicy Food To Add to Your Diet

Spicy avocado on toast with Cumen Rice

Incorporating spicy foods for weight loss is easy without resorting to raw chilis. Here are two favorite examples:

Breakfast: Spicy Avocado Toast

Start your day with a calorie-burning breakfast by using whole-grain bread, a free-range fried egg, and topping it with avocado slices and chili flakes.

Lunch: Cumin Rice

Enhance any lunch by adding cumin rice as a side. Opt for yellow jasmine rice as the base, and for one cup of rice, include two teaspoons of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of butter, and an optional chopped garlic clove. Boil for about 30 minutes, ensuring a slight bite without sogginess.

Related ArticleWhat to Eat for Lunch to Lose Weight Fast?

Dinner: Jalapeno Chicken

Spicy Jalapeno Chicken close up image

For dinner, you can dice chicken, sauté, and add a simple tomato-based sauce, lowering the heat. Finely chop garlic and hot peppers; choose milder alternatives or remove seeds if desired. Combine and simmer for 20 minutes for blended flavors.

Refreshing Drink

For a refreshing lemon, turmeric, and ginger iced tea, boil water, and steep a tea bag in a small jug for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, add fresh ginger slices, squeeze in half a lemon, and incorporate half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Allow the flavors to blend.

Related Articles:

Health Benefits To Eating Spicy Foods

A spicy eggplant

Eating spicy foods can aid in weight loss and offer health benefits beyond 5weight management and fat reduction.

According to a study from the National Institute of Health, turmeric and other spices contain curcumin, which helps with inflammation and benefits joint health [3].

Furthermore, another study from the same health institute suggests that cumin has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, promoting a healthier gut [4].

Misconception Between Spicy Foods and Weight Gain

Despite the misconception that spicy foods, particularly chili peppers containing capsaicin, lead to weight gain, they can actually boost metabolism and promote fat burning, preventing weight gain.

Studies demonstrate their role in supporting a healthy weight by increasing calorie burning and reducing appetite. An intriguing UCLA study suggests that daily consumption of spicy food could even increase life expectancy by up to 14% [5].

Including chili peppers in your meals not only adds flavor but also enhances weight loss efforts and helps maintain a healthy body weight.

FAQs

Can You Eat Spicy Food Every Day For Weight Loss?

Yes, you can eat spicy foods every day to boost your metabolism for weight loss. Standard diets in many countries around the world are heavily based on spices, and all it takes is getting used to the new flavors.

Are Hot Chilis Good For Losing Weight?

Yes, hot chilis are good for losing weight. You can adjust how much of them you use, but if you can deal with the burning sensation in your mouth, then you’ll make a big difference in your weight loss.

Does Pumpkin Spice Help Burn Fat?

Yes, pumpkin spice helps burn fat. Its blend includes spices like ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, known for their fat-burning properties.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3957721/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257466/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400101/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20492235/
  5. https://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h3942
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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