You may have heard that eating spicy-hot foods can cause your metabolism to sizzle and help burn calories. But before you slather on the hot mustard, dice up the jalapeños or toss the ginger in the pot, read on!
Research has shown an increased metabolic effect after eating spicy foods. Evidence also suggests that after consumption of hot spices, especially hot chili peppers, overall caloric consumption may be reduced in the following 24 hours.
But while the short-term effects of spicy foods on energy expenditure and intake look promising, evidence of long-term benefits is scarce. Moreover, long-term ingestion may be limited by its burning effect on the stomach, and the amount needed to be effective. And if you have kids at home, remember that kids are much less tolerant of spicy foods.
But if you're brave enough to add a little zing to your meals, start slowly and build up your tolerance. Begin with small amounts of spices such as chili powder, wasabi, curry powder, cayenne pepper, fresh ginger, and jalapeños chili peppers.
Try spicing the ordinary foods you eat. For a great sandwich spread, use non-fat yogurt with one of the above spices mixed in. Rub a mixture of spices on your meat, poultry or seafood before cooking. Add them to your favorite low-fat salad dressing.
Whether or not eating spicy foods will increase your metabolism enough to help you lose weight, it will certainly make your food tastier. And the spices will have a negligible effect on calories. In fact, spices can be used in place of most high-calorie condiments.
Also be sure to read the tutorial topic Raise Your Metabolism and Burn More Calories.
Megan Porter, RD