Spice Up Your Diet for a bit of Extra Fat Burning!

Fiona Kirk_Fat in the City_Header

Things are getting very exciting on the spice front! Ongoing research suggests that eating foods containing what are best known as ‘curry spices’ (cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek) may increase the body’s temperature by as much as 20 percent, meaning more calories are burned after a meal. A few small studies have also revealed that we feel full more quickly when we eat spicy dishes so we eat less. Good news all round for those who ‘like it hot’ whilst watching their waistlines!

And it’s not just the ‘curry spices’. Cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and cloves are also being investigated and are earning their stripes when it comes to boosting metabolism, improving digestion, easing congestion and reducing the threat of insulin ‘spikes’ which see us reaching for sugary, fatty foods all too often.


When we overeat, fat cells expand and if they are regularly over-stuffed (particularly those around the midriff) inflammatory chemicals leap into action and interfere with the balance of our appetite hormones; ghrelin which tells us when we are hungry and leptin which tells us when we are full. This can result in us becoming less sensitive to signals telling us we have had enough to eat so we eat more.

Any kind of inflammation within the body promotes the formation of dangerous molecules called free radicals, which if allowed to proliferate, wreak havoc and damage cells. Antioxidants work in tandem with the body’s natural defences by forming a protective shield around our body cells and absorbing these free radicals which are neutralised, lose their destructive power and are safely excreted from the body so a diet rich in foods that feed the antioxidant shield are vital. You can also get a great boost to your antioxidant intake if you consume alpha lipoic acid before bed. Its a powerful antioxidant with many other benefits that is worth looking into.

Measure for measure, spices have more antioxidant power than many fruits and vegetables.

A few things to do with spices to reap their fat busting and protective benefits:

  • Have a big mug of hot water, lemon juice and grated fresh ginger first thing in the morning.
  • Top your porridge with sliced apples or apple puree and a good sprinkling of cinnamon.
  • Opt for spicy soups at lunchtime (try our Spicy Meatball Soup from Soup Can Make You Thin www.souperydupery.com)
  • Rub spices mixed with a little olive oil over meat, poultry and meaty fish before grilling or roasting.
  • Make or buy spiced teas for a warming drink mid morning or mid afternoon.
  • Spice up your nuts and seeds by coating them with a mix of cayenne, turmeric and coriander and roasting them in the oven (keep an eye on them as they quickly burn).
  • Add them to your salad dressings (particularly good with finely sliced, crunchy vegetables like cabbage, bok choy, chicory and endive) or use chilli oil in place of olive oil.
  • Make spiced butters and top your steamed vegetables with a disc or two (not much butter involved).
  • Very finely dice green and red chillies and add a bit of subtle heat to soups and stews.
  • Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, turnip and parsnips marry extremely well with spices; the tang cuts through the sweetness. So, be generous when you are roasting these vegetables or add them later if you are going for a mash.

kumars curries

Interestingly, another fairly comprehensive study found that those who consumed the most curry had the sharpest minds and lowest risk of Alzheimer’s disease (inflammation in the brain). Waistline-friendly and brain-friendly? Make mine a Tandoori Chicken with Chana Masala and Spiced Cauliflower on the side (hold the rice and naan bread!)

There are so many ways to spice up your diet and I would love to know any tips you may have so leave a comment below if you have time or email me through my websites, www.fatbustforever.com and www.souperydupery.com

Images reproduced from justcarehealth.com and verstegen.co.uk

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About Fiona Kirk

When it comes to healthy eating, dieting and finding a route that works, confusion reigns! Nutritionist and best selling author Fiona Kirk’s ability to cut through the ‘noise’ that is being hurled at us from all sides, enables us to make a few small changes that can reap big rewards in minimum time. By writing articles for the press, books (4 to date), giving talks, blogging and contributing to numerous diet and health websites, Fiona has discovered that her somewhat cynical (but always honest) take on some of the nonsense being touted has struck a chord with her ‘followers’ - putting them back in the driving seat of their diet and long term health. After all, she knows good nutrition... and isn't afraid to talk about it! For more from Fiona, check out www.fatbustforever.com
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