Should You Follow Mom’s Nutrition Tips?
Bonci: Some studies suggest that consuming spicy foods that contain capsaicin [the compound that makes chili peppers hot] can have a thermogenic, or fat-burning, effect, but it’s negligible. So you can’t have a Big Mac and a jalapeño chaser and expect to drop pounds.
Gans: I don’t believe there’s a food that will speed up your metabolism significantly enough to make a huge difference. Some people find that spicy food helps them eat less—they get satisfied more quickly because the food has a lot of flavor. So it may help by causing you to reduce your overall food intake.
Blatner: There might be some truth to this. Research has shown that foods with capsaicin may elevate metabolic rate by 23 percent. But the catch is, you may need to add a tablespoon of, say, hot peppers to each meal, which is not realistic. Also, the effect is short-lived, and the boost you get is small. The average person would burn only about 50 additional calories a day.