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Can Spicy Foods Boost Metabolism?

Spicy foods have long been rumored to boost metabolism, leading to weight loss. But before you reach for the tabasco, or start in on the cayenne pepper/maple syrup/lemon juice cleanse made famous by Beyonce (not a Veracity recommendation!) – is there any truth to this claim? Let's dive into the science behind spicy foods and their effects on metabolism.

Capsaicin: The Active Ingredient

The key compound in spicy foods is capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat. Capsaicin is known to increase the body's production of heat, a process known as thermogenesis. If you’ve ever unwittingly consumed a bite of food with a hidden chili pepper and broken out in a sweat, you know exactly how this feels! This effect can temporarily boost metabolism, helping the body burn more calories. Less potent than capsaicin, but sharing similar properties, are piperine found in peppers, and allyl isothiocyanate found in radish, mustard, and wasabi.

Metabolic Rate and Calorie Burning

Capsaicin can increase the activity of enzymes involved in breaking down fat, such as lipase. This can enhance the breakdown of fat molecules (lipolysis) in fat tissue, releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream to be used for energy production. Research suggests that consuming capsaicin can increase metabolic rate by up to 8% and fat burning by up to 16% for a short period after eating. While these effects are modest, they can contribute to overall calorie expenditure.

Appetite Suppression

Spicy foods may also help control appetite. Capsaicin has been shown to reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, and increase levels of GLP-1, a hormone that promotes feelings of fullness. This could lead to reduced calorie intake, aiding in weight management.

Blood Flow and Nutrient Delivery

Capsaicin has been found to increase blood flow to various tissues. This may help improve nutrient delivery and oxygenation, which could potentially enhance metabolism and energy expenditure.

Individual Variations

It's important to note that the effects of spicy foods on metabolism can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience a greater boost in metabolism than others, depending on factors such as genetics and tolerance to spicy foods.

Incorporating Spicy Foods Into Your Diet

If you're looking to reap the potential benefits of spicy foods, consider incorporating them into your diet in a balanced way. Add chili peppers to soups, stir-fries, or salads, or enjoy spicy sauces and condiments in moderation. Here are some of the best spicy foods to consider:

  • Chili Peppers: Whether fresh, dried, or powdered, chili peppers are rich in capsaicin. Varieties like cayenne, jalapeño, and habanero peppers can be added to various dishes to increase their spiciness and potential metabolism-boosting effects. You can find them in Indian curries, Thai soups, and Mexican moles and salsa.

  • Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is a popular spice known for its heat and is often used in spicy dishes and seasoning blends. It contains a high amount of capsaicin, making it a potent choice for boosting metabolism. Try adding a pinch to your hummus or hot chocolate for a spicy vs. sweet taste.

  • Spicy Mustard: Mustard seeds contain allyl isothiocyanate, a compound similar to capsaicin, that can increase metabolic rate. Spicy mustard varieties can be used as a condiment or in marinades and for adding some zest to your greens in salad dressings.

  • Wasabi: Wasabi, a cousin of mustard, also contains allyl isothiocyanate. The spicy green paste is often served with Japanese sushi, but can be incorporated into other dishes such as wasabi seared tuna, or used in a marinade to roast vegetables – try asparagus.

  • Ginger: While not as spicy as chili peppers, ginger has a unique spicy flavor and contains compounds like gingerol, which has been shown to have thermogenic effects and may help boost metabolism. In addition to tea, freshly grated or powdered ginger can be used in many dishes from stir fries to smoothies.

  • Black Pepper: Although not as hot as chili peppers, black pepper contains piperine, a compound that has been shown to have metabolism-boosting properties and may increase the bioavailability of other nutrients. Perhaps the most ubiquitous of spices, you can grind pepper on fresh caprese salads, simple egg dishes, and grilled meats.

Other Health Benefits

Beyond metabolism, spicy foods offer other health benefits. Capsaicin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may even help improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for managing blood sugar levels.

Don’t Get Burned

Cautionary note – while spicy foods can be a flavorful and healthy addition to your diet, they may not be suitable for everyone. Some people may experience digestive issues or discomfort from consuming spicy foods, so it's best to listen to your body and use moderation!

A Little Spice Is Nice

Spicy foods are not the magical solution for weight loss, they can boost metabolism and offer other health benefits. Incorporating a variety of spicy foods into a balanced diet, along with regular physical activity, can be a flavorful way to support your overall health and well-being.


Like capsaicin, polyphenols are another metabolism boosting gift from mother nature. Veracity’s Metabolism Ignite supplement harnesses the power of polyphenols derived from lemon verbena and hibiscus extracts, which activate the AMPK pathway switching on energy burn and decreasing fat storage. They also balance key hunger hormones including GLP-1 to increase satiety and balance blood sugar levels. 100% natural with zero side effects, Metabolism Ignite delivers clinically proven weight loss of 5-9 lbs over 8-12 weeks.

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