My father’s family came to the US from the British West Indies (Nevis). Use of hot sauce was very common in that culture. I did not like spicy food much as a child, but as an adult, I grew to enjoy the taste; I must have inherited the love for spices.

Nevis, West Indies

Nevis, West Indies

As I began my weight loss journey, I became more intentional about my use of hot sauce in preparing food. I did this for two reasons. The first was to slow me down, since I tend (still) to eat too fast. The other was to find something beside fat to make food pleasurable.

Several studies show that capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot sauce, can cause people to feel full earlier and therefore eat less food… read about these studies in “More” below.

There are a number of sauces that I enjoy, and even travel with them. They include Sriracha (a Vietnamese-inspired garlic/chili sauce), Marie Sharp’s (recipe from Belize), and Cholula (Mexican) among others.



In animal studies, "dietary capsaicin may reduce obesity-induced glucose intolerance by not only suppressing inflammatory responses but also enhancing fatty acid oxidation in adipose tissue and/or liver, both of which are important peripheral tissues affecting insulin resistance."1Another very similar study reached similar results and concluded that "Capsaicin may be a useful phytochemical for attenuating obesity-induced inflammation and obesity-related complications."2

In human studies, "sweet pepper and a combination of capsaicin and green tea reduced energy intake during positive energy balance. Capsaicin and green tea suppressed hunger and increased satiety more during negative than during positive energy balance... might support weight loss periods by relatively sustaining satiety and suppressing hunger."3Another study suggests that use of pills of a non-pungent capsinoid can mildly reduce abdominal fat; genetic variants may predict which people will have a greater response.4This may be supported by a human study which showed that thin women increased fat burning after capsaicin, but obese women did not.5

One question is whether or not it is important for the capsaicin to be tasted in the mouth, or whether it can be encapsulated in pills and released further down in the stomach or intestines. "In the short term, both oral and gastrointestinal exposure to capsaicin increased satiety and reduced energy and fat intake; the stronger reduction with oral exposure suggests a sensory effect of capsaicin.6


1 PMID: 19798065

2 PMID: 17719033

3 PMID: 19345452

4 PMID: 19056576

5 PMID: 11227803

6 PMID: 15611784

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.