Does Eating Spicy Food Burn Additional Calories?

December 3, 2012

You’re eating a hot chicken Vindaloo at your fave Indian restaurant. Your tongue is on fire and you’re sweating buckets. You wonder: isn’t sweating a sign that my metabolism is speeding up and burning calories?
Well, you’re not far from the truth. There is indeed evidence that spices can increase the metabolic rate, up to three hours after finishing the meal. However, it’s not as clear-cut as it seems...

Researchers at Purdue University (IN) tested whether red pepper - in quantities consumed typically by Americans - can affect appetite, energy expenditure, and body temperature.
The scientists, after an extensive study, found that spicy foods (i.e., foods rich in capsaicin) in as little as a 1 gram did affect metabolic rate. It was further noted less preoccupation with food, as well as the decreased desire to consume fatty, salty, and sweet foods[1].
However, metabolism boost reaction only occurred in subjects who were not used to consuming spicy foods. No substantial alteration in metabolism was reported in those accustomed.
Furthermore, according to some researchers, the increase in energy expenditure is not nearly enough to affect any weight loss.
On the other hand, it was reported that spicy food tend to reduce overall food intake by curbing appetite and sustaining satiety[2].
In any case - as we have already explored - hot spices such as cayenne pepper or chili pepper are full of health benefits, so the issue whether they can make your fat melt, can become of secondary importance.
In other words, when in doubt: spice it up (if you can stand the heat of course!)
You’ll bring awesome flavors to your plate; and if it makes you sweat profoundly or cry like a baby or run your nose, just have a laugh at it!

The Iron You


  1. I love spicy food! Good to know that it's healthy