Can Spices Help You Lose Weight?

Can adding spices to your diet charge up your metabolism and speed weight loss? Nutrition Diva has the pros and cons of a new diet fad. 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #405

The spice diet is moderate in protein (about 20% of calories) and relatively high in fats (60% of calories), which is probably why Padme is finding the meals tasty and satisfying.

In fact, as lower carbohydrate diets go, this one is a pretty good one. It’s got a reasonable amount of fiber, the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and most of the fats are from healthy sources. It’s very low in added sugar and processed foods. You could certainly do a whole lot worse!

In fact, as lower carbohydrate diets go, this one is a pretty good one.

But Padme’s suspicion is right on target: The rapid weight loss she saw in the first week will probably not continue. Aside from water weight, Padme could lose up to 2 pounds a week of actual body weight. After a few weeks, however, the rate of weight loss will gradually slow down.  Why? Here's a few reasons:

Why weight loss slows with time

  • As you lose weight, you need fewer calories. Unless you are continually decreasing your calorie intake, your rate of weight loss will slow.   
  • After several weeks of calorie restriction, your metabolism may slow down to compensate.
  • With rapid and steady weight loss, it’s also hard to prevent the loss of some lean muscle tissue, which can lower your metabolic rate even more.  

If you do end up reaching a plateau, you can check out the tips in episode #148: How to break a weight loss plateau.

My bigger concern is what happens when you reach your goal—or the end of the program. Padme admits that following this diet to the letter is challenging, which suggests that it may be tough to keep it up indefinitely. And this is exactly why so many people, having successfully lost a bunch of weight following a special diet, start regaining that weight the minute they finish the program. There’s just too big a gap between the way they lived and ate while on the diet and the way they live and eat in real life.

I’m hoping that Padme will be the exception that proves the rule! But for those looking for a more sustainable approach, check out episode #163: How to lose weight without dieting. And for those who still believe that the best diet is the one that takes the weight off the fastest, please check out episode #381, How to Avoid the Biggest Loser Syndrome.

I frequently get emails from listeners saying that what they’ve picked up from the Nutrition Diva podcast has helped them lose 10, 20, or even 80 pounds—not in a matter of weeks or even months but over the course of a year (or several).  Getting those emails is the absolute best part of my job. It may not sound as sexy as getting the body of your dreams in 8 weeks. On the other hand, it’s a lot more rewarding than losing the same fifteen pounds every year.

Comments? Questions? Post them below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.