Can Spicy Food Help You Lose Weight?

Hot spices like chili peppers, wasabi and garlic are the flavors that make Indian, Asian and Caribbean cuisine so memorable, but can these exotic flavors do more? A new study in Elsevier’s Food Quality and Preference journal investigated the effect of hot spices on energy intake and appetite and asked if adding a little spice to our daily dishes would help in the fight against fat.

During the study, 40 participants received 5 meals of fixed portion sizes, served with or without 5 hot spices followed by a buffet. Food intake, appetite and liking, mood and desire to eat sweet, sour, fatty, salty, bitter and hot foods were then all measured.

The results showed that adding spices to the meals had only minor effects on total energy intake but no effect on total food intake, water intake, hunger or feeling satisfied.  However, certain spices did create other effects.  The desire for sweet foods was increased by chili and the desire to eat salty foods was decreased by mustard.  This suggests that hot spices can influence changes in sensory specific desires but the question is how much do you need to eat?

According to one British Study, eating a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can boost your metabolic rate by 23 per cent for up to 3 hours after you eat them.  Chilies are also cholesterol free, low in sodium, calories and rich in Vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and Vitamin E.

Spicy mustard made people burn an extra 45-to-75 calories over 3 hours because it influences your body’s norepinephrine and epinephrine levels and garlic, a strong diuretic, helped to flush out excess water weight.