Looking for some heat this winter? Turning up the furnace on your meals with chilies may make it easier to stay on good terms with the scale, according to a study conducted by OminActive Health Technologies and University of Arizona and published in Advances in Nutrition in 2017.

When study participants took a supplement with 2 milligrams of isolated capsaicinoids—phytochemicals that exist in the seeds and inner membranes of chili peppers and are responsible for their hurts-so-good kick—their metabolism (resting energy expenditure) jumped by about 6%. That translates to 130 more calories burnt in a day compared with when they took a placebo. Appetite ratings also declined with the chili treatment, which could lead to lower daily calorie intake.

It remains to be seen how many whole chili peppers it would take to produce this metabolism-boosting benefit and whether the effect would translate into meaningful weight loss, but for now, go ahead and spice up your meals with jalapeños, chipotle peppers and volcano-like habaneros.

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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