Can Spicy Foods Really Help You Lose Weight?

various spices
Hot peppers get their well-known spicy kick from an ingredient called capsaicin, a compound found in habaneros, cayenne and most other chili peppers. Spicy foods’ reputation for weight loss and metabolism boosting is very popular …but is it true?

True or false: eating spicy foods will help you lose weight.

False. Sort of. Spicy foods will not significantly increase a person’s metabolism or help them burn significant calories. Your metabolic rate is determined by your gender, height, present weight/body composition, and age.

If you’ve ever broken out into a sweat while munching on Buffalo wings or downing a bowl of spicy chili, you have experienced one of the long-rumored effects of capsaicin – it generates body heat. This process, called thermogenesis, does burn calories.

However, this effect is modest and temporary, only lasting for a couple of hours. As soon as your body’s reaction to the spicy food is finished and returns to a normal temperature, your metabolism will go back to functioning at the rate it did before you ate the spicy food.

That said, research suggests that spicy foods may still offer some health benefits: