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Hot Sauces & Weight Loss

author image Marie Dannie
Marie Dannie has been a professional journalist since 1991, specializing in nutrition and health topics. She has written for "Woman’s Own," the "Daily Mail," the "Daily Mirror" and the "Telegraph." She is a registered nutritionist and holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in food science from the University of Nottingham.
Hot Sauces & Weight Loss
A large bowl of hot sauce. Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

Hot sauce -- whether it's a classic vinegar-based sauce made with cayenne peppers or a more exotic blend containing habaneros and fruit -- adds pizzazz to your meal. Because hot sauces add flavor without significantly increasing the calorie content of a dish, they can help you meet your weight-loss goals by keeping your calorie intake low. You can use premade hot sauces or make your own at home. Hot sauce contains capsaicin, which may have some weight-loss benefits, although further research is still required.

Adds Flavor With Few Calories

Hot sauce is naturally low in calories, with a 1-tablespoon serving containing merely 3 calories. If you're watching your weight, use hot sauce in place of a higher-calorie seasoning agent, such as butter, to increase flavor and depth in a dish. A 1-tablespoon serving of butter has 102 calories. Substituting butter with hot sauce three times a week can set up a calorie deficit that, over a year, can lead to 4.4 pounds of lost body weight. It takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose 1 pound of body weight.

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Increases Metabolism

The “Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” published a study on the effects of capsaicin on weight loss in 2013. Researchers found that regularly eating capsaicin led to higher levels of satiety, resulting in fewer calories consumed. In addition, capsaicin raised energy expenditure levels in those taking part in the study, leading to increased metabolism. Researchers concluded that spicy foods, such as hot sauce, could help prevent overeating as well as help your body burn more calories and fat.

Helps Burn Fat

A 2014 issue of “Progress in Drug Research” found that those with diets high in capsaicin had less likelihood of developing obesity and that capsaicin also increased the rate of fat burning. This was especially true when capsaicin was taken as a supplement one hour before moderate-intensity exercise, as the capsaicin increased the body’s natural fat-burning mechanisms. Researchers concluded that capsaicin, as part of a regular diet, could help prevent or reduce the risk of obesity by helping to lower body fat levels and the risk of weight gain. Further clinical research is still needed, however.

Choosing and Using a Hot Sauce

Different chili peppers have varying heat levels because of their capsaicin content. The hotter the chili pepper, the hotter the final hot sauce. Basic hot sauces, such those made with crushed red peppers, add heat with only a slight pepper flavor, while other peppers, such as ancho chili peppers, will add sweetness and smokiness but only a little bit of heat. You can use hot sauce as a marinade for meats in place of other ingredients, such as oil or butter, and you can even use it with scrambled eggs, adding richness and flavor with almost no fat. In other cases, consider adding hot sauce to everyday foods, such as hamburgers and salad dressing, to get capsaicin's full health benefits.

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