Trying to lose a few pounds before the summer "officially" hits? That's probably a struggle that many of us go through every single year. If you have tried to lose weight at any point of your life, then I bet you have heard of following claim - spicy food helps you lose weight. A lot of you have probably tried it, too. Now you are either recollecting the time when you did, or seriously doubting if this is real science. Especially for those of you who loathed spicy food your entire lives, does it really worth it to venture down this road? Does spicy food really help you lose weight? Well, let's find out.

Boosting Your Metabolism?

vegetable, meat, sauce, tomato, soup, pork, beef, chili, pepper, goulash, chicken curry
Jenny Mun

One of the most commonly recognized and supported arguments is that eating spicy food raises your body temperature and therefore boosts your metabolism. Generally, the increase in body temperature after eating spicy food is associated with a chemical compound called "capsaicin." While the exact mechanism remains unclear, what scientists do know is that capsaicin excites the receptors in our skin which normally respond to heat, causing physical reactions such as burning and sweating. However, hold your applause there for a minute. Even though spicy food increases your metabolism, it does so at a rate ever so slightly - about 8 percent, and only temporarily - that the effect is almost negligible.

Suppress Appetite?

chocolate, cake
Tabitha Wibowo

So is that a "no?" Not quite yet. Despite the disappointing findings, scientists did not give up there. On the contrary, they presented the next argument - spicy food helps reduce appetite. It appears that the same chemical and burning sensation as mentioned above tend to suppress appetite and curb cravings. More specifically, in a study conducted at Purdue University, those who did not consume spicy meals regularly ate 60 fewer calories when red pepper was added to their soup. So the pain may not be so bad after all.

Increased Fat Burn?

Jenny Nguyen

Moreover, many researchers have studied the effect of capsaicin on the fat-burning process. According to a study completed by researches at the University of Wyoming, dietary capsaicin suppresses obesity induced by high-fat diets - in mice. In other words, for those of you on a high-fat diet, spicy food will prevent weight gain to a certain extent. In fact, multiple studies conducted in a similar manner produced positive results. It's reasonable to conclude that eating spicy food does lead to less fat gain, possibly even more effective fat-burning.

What Else?

pepper, carrot, tomato, vegetable
Christin Urso

Are you fully convinced by the arguments yet? If not, there is more to come. Aside from helping you lose weight, spicy food has other health benefits that should not be ignored. A study conducted from 2004 to 2008 that tracked 20,224 people over a 7-year period produced data suggested a lower risk of premature deaths for those who ate spicy food six to seven times per week. The difference was as large as 14%. Capsaicin intake is also widely researched for its potential cancer-fighting properties, as the compound seems to play a significant role in killing cancer cells.

The last thing you need to know before heading out on your spicy food adventure is that despite all these health benefits, capsaicin is a blood thinner. However, this should only be a concern to the people taking medications like warfarin. So just be careful how much red pepper you are eating and don't go crazy!

After all, we should return to the initial question, does spicy food help you lose weight? Simply put, it can, though only to a certain extent. You might be disappointed by this answer, but relying on spicy food as a shortcut to weight loss is probably not the best idea. That being said, spicy food does have many other health benefits that you should not ignore. So unless you absolutely loathe red peppers, go get spiced up!