Can Spicy Food Really Burn Fat?

Can Spicy Food Really Burn Fat?

There are many different strategies to losing weight nowadays, but knowing which strategy works for you can be tricky. For those who love spicy food, you may be in luck. Research suggests that spicy foods may help with weight loss in certain doses. Chili peppers contain a substance known as capsaicin, which makes them spicy and may provide health benefits such as weight loss and decreased appetite. Significant weight loss may not be apparent when adding just a little bit of spice to your diet, but may be more apparent when used in combination with a healthy eating plan, and exercise.

Health benefits

How exactly do spicy foods help with weight loss and burning fat? Studies suggest that the capsaicin component in chili peppers may help increase thermogenesis, thus increasing energy expenditure (burning calories). May also help increase fat oxidation (fat breakdown) when meals contain a high fat content. Further, increasing tolerance of spicy foods can lead to increased therapeutic intakes of capsaicin, resulting in more potent effects. Although, capsaicin may help with weight loss, this component should be combined with exercise and a healthy diet to help increase energy expenditure and fat loss, rather than be used alone to obtain the health benefits. Another benefit of capsaicin is decreasing appetite, which in turn leads to decreased intake of fats and calories, resulting in weight loss due to less energy intake.

Although spicy foods may help with weight loss, this strategy is not for everyone due to different tolerance acceptance levels.

Tolerance to spicy food may determine the extent to which health benefits are seen due to the differing amounts of spice individuals can handle. Even though some evidence suggests that spicy foods have been found to increase weight loss to some extent, not all the research is conclusive.


by Owen Ng


Interested in learning more about how spice levels can influence weight management? Check out the Weight Management Workbook!


Saito, M., & Yoneshiro, T. (2013). Capsinoids and related food ingredients activating brown fat thermogenesis and reducing body fat in humans. Current Opinion in Lipidology,24(1), 71-77. doi:10.1097/mol.0b013e32835a4f40

Janssens, P. L., Hursel, R., Martens, E. A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2013). Acute Effects of Capsaicin on Energy Expenditure and Fat Oxidation in Negative Energy Balance. PLoS ONE,8(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067786

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