Blog Weight Loss Do Spices Have Calories? A Valid Question to Ask When Trying to Lose Weight

Do Spices Have Calories? A Valid Question to Ask When Trying to Lose Weight

Nothing probably grates you more than stepping on the scale only to see you’ve lost nothing. You start questioning everything you eat but can’t pinpoint the culprit that stops you from shedding weight as you should. Suddenly, you ask yourself, do spices have calories?


Questioning whether spices have calories is a must if you’re trying to lose weight. Some spices actually have calories which need to be considered. .  Let’s discover which of them have a meaningful number of calories and which do not. 

Spices Nutrition: The Good and the Bad

Calorie counting can become a nightmare if you need to understand calories. Live Science explains that calories are merely energy consumed and burned, depending on your daily activity (23). The bottom line is that everything contains calories to some degree. 

Beware of Hidden Ingredients or Calories in Spices

Other energy sources can affect your weight. However, you should know how to recognize calories or weight shifters you might not typically think about when buying spices. Spices and herbs with low or zero calories still may need to be considered. For example, researchers in Germany indicate that high sodium intake increases water retention (19). 

The Cleveland Clinic explains how fat, high carb foods, and proteins turn into calories because your body requires energy sources (10). That said, read every label to understand whether hidden calories lie inside a spice or herb. Here’s how macronutrients turn into calories (10): 

  • One fat gram has nine calories
  • One carb or protein gram contains four calories each

Don’t allow calories to deter you because the good news is coming. Check out the healthy sides of spices and herbs and the nutrition inside each. 

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The Healthy Side of Spices

Healthy spices bring immense benefits. You can’t remove them from your diet when trying to lose weight. Moderation is the key. Registered dietician Alisson Kothera shares the nutrients in some of the best spices with lower calorie counts before diving into their calories (3). 

Antioxidants reduce the damage from free radicals in your body. The Victoria Department of Health recommends antioxidants to potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and other conditions (5). Turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, rosemary, and basil are rich in antioxidants. 

The Maxwell Clinic suggests simmering and sauteing spices to enrich your diet with antioxidants, while frying or grilling them may reduce antioxidants (3). Additionally, the Cardiac Wellness Institute recommends spices for their nutritional value and vitamins, such as (22): 

  • Black pepper has intense amounts of manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, dietary fibers, and vitamins B6, C, and K.
  • Cardamom has micronutrients like riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C. 
  • Cinnamon has protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, D, E, and K. 
  • Fenugreek seeds pack dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, and phytonutrients like choline, yamogenin, and gitogenin. 
  • Turmeric has high amounts of calcium, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, manganese, and vitamins B6 and C. 

Let’s not stop there. Low-calorie spices are an excellent source of energy during a weight loss journey. In addition, Dr. Shaziya Allarhaka recommends using spices as an anti-inflammatory in your daily diet, including (4): 

  • Cayenne pepper has capsaicinoids to defend your body against inflammation. 
  • Garlic has organosulfur ingredients that fight inflammation. 
  • Ginger is a common inflammation suppressant.
  • Oregano helps to reduce inflammation with beta-caryophyllene. 
  • Turmeric has curcumin to fight against inflammation.
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The point is spices and herbs contain many nutrients, vitamins, macronutrients, phytonutrients, and possible health benefits. Using them to flavor foods can help you lose weight by avoiding high-calorie spices and using low-calorie seasonings. 

spices calories

How Many Calories Do Spices Have?

Discover how many calories are in different spices, herbs, and seasonings to ensure you enjoy your weight loss journey. Each spice’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and nutritional values will benefit you. None of them are very high in calories but it helps to be aware if you are counting your calories meticulously.  

Please note: I’ll use a double database to count calories and ensure they match all herbs, spices, and seasonings. Accuracy will define how well you lose weight. Meanwhile, WebMD’s calorie calculator is accurate if you want a spice not listed below (11). 

Spices Calories to Count While Losing Weight

Let’s see which spices contain between 11 and 40 calories to moderate them in your diet. You’ll add these calories to your diet as you flavor food. The Strat-Tech Calorie Counter and the Calories information center show how many calories are in each of the following (6) (17): 

Spice/Herb Portion Calories Spice/ Herb Portion Calories
Chicory 1 root 43 Fenugreek Seeds 2 tsp 12
Licorice 1 tbsp 68 Nutmeg 1 tsp 12
Pace Dried Taco Seasoning Mix 2 tbsp 10 Poppy Seeds 1 tsp 15
Original Dry Chili Seasoning Mix 1.33 tsp 30 Original Dry Taco Seasoning Mix 2 tsp 18
Savory Seasoning Mix 1 tbsp 12

Low-Calorie Spices to Enjoy

Low-calorie spices have ten or fewer calories. You can enjoy them without worrying intensely about counting every calorie as long as you don’t over-spice food. The Calorie Chart Database and Strat-Tech share the calories for common spices and herbs (17) (6). 

Spice/Herb Portion Calories Spice/ Herb Portion Calories
Allspice (Ground) 1 tsp 5 Anise/Anise Seed 1 tsp 7
Bay Leaf (Dried) 1 tsp 2 Capers (Canned) 1 tbsp 2
Caraway Seeds 1 tsp 7 Cardamom Seeds 1 tsp 6
Chives 1 tbsp 1 Cinnamon (Ground) 1 tsp 6
Cilantro/Coriander (Dried) 1 tsp 2 Cloves (Ground) 1 tsp 6
Cumin/Cumin Seeds 1 tsp 8 Curry Powder 1 tsp 7
Fennel Seeds 1 tsp 7 Fresh Garlic 1 clove 4
Fresh Ginger 1 tsp 6 Garlic Powder 1 tsp 10
Lemongrass 1 tbsp 4 Mace (Ground) 1 tsp 8
Marjoram (Dried) 1 tsp 2 Mint (Dried) 1 tbsp 1
Mustard Seeds 1 tsp 10 Onion Powder 1 tsp 8
Oregano (Dried) 1 tsp 3 Parsley (Dried) 1 tsp 1
Pumpkin Pie Spice 1 tsp 6 Rosemary (Dried) 1 tsp 4
Sage (Ground) 1 tsp 2 Saffron 1 tsp 2
Tamarind 1 root 5 Tarragon (Dried) 1 tsp 2
Thyme (Dried) 1 tsp 3 Turmeric (Ground) 1 tsp 9

Read more: 7 Low-Fat, High-Protein Snacks to Keep You Full and Focused.

Pepper Spice Calories

Fortunately, pepper spices have low calories if you love spicy food. All of them have less than ten calories per serving. The Calorie Chart Database and Strat-Tech share the counts for each of the best pepper spices to use for weight loss (17) (6): 

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Spice Portion Calories Spice Portion Calories
Black Pepper 1 tsp 6 Cayenne Pepper 1 tsp 6
Chili Powder 1 tsp 8 Hot Pepper 1 tsp 3
Jalapeno 1 oz. 3 Paprika 1 tsp 6
Red Pepper 1 tsp 8 White Pepper 1 tsp 7

spices nutrition

Spices With Zero Calories

Some spices contain zero calories if you use the right amount. However, let’s break each one down to ensure they don’t have other ingredients that cause weight gain or water retention. 


The USDA shows only 1.22 calories for two tablespoons of freshly chopped basil leaves (12).


The USDA lists one sprig of fresh garden cress as having 0.32 calories (13). It’s one of the lowest-calorie spices in your backyard. However, it only applies to a single sprig. 

Dill or Dill Weed

The USDA also shows five dill weed sprigs have 0.43 calories (14). It’s a safe herb to add to your weight-loss foods. 

Garlic Salt

The Calorie Chart Database shows zero calories in one gram of garlic salt (17). It also has zero carbohydrates or fats but is high in sodium. Only 0.75 grams of garlic salt contains 170 milligrams of sodium (16). 

Iodized or Table Salt

The USDA shares the calorie and nutritional information for table and iodized salt (15). Salt has no calories, but high amounts of sodium will cause water retention (19). 

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How to Flavor Food With Little or No Calories

Using spices and herbs with lower calorie counts will help you lose weight. It helps to start using lower-calorie herbs and spices with evidence of weight loss support. Furthermore, let’s see how you can flavor food without adding too many calories. 

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Use Recommended Low-Calorie Spices for Weight Loss

Some spices help you lose weight, whether they have minimal or slightly elevated calories.  Nazneen Memon at MedicineNet recommends the following spices as priorities for weight loss (1):

  • Black Pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Fenugreek
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric

The capsaicin ingredient in cayenne and chili pepper spices may boost metabolism and encourage weight loss. In addition, it can help you feel satisfied sooner. The Cleveland Clinic also suggests adding tangy spices like peppers and chilies to your diet (2). 

Additionally, black pepper is an excellent spice to eat for weight loss. India’s Raval College of Pharmacy tested how piperine in black pepper reduces fat in rats (8). Piperine helped the rats lose weight and improved their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Black pepper is another winner. 

do spices have calories

Use Other Seasonings Calories to Flavor Food

Weight loss journeys don’t need to be dull or tasteless. Seasonings can also add flavor to your delicious food. Strat-Tech and the Calorie Chart Database share the calories in some of the yummiest seasonings (6) (17): 

Seasoning Portion Calories Seasoning Portion Calories
Almond Extract 1 tbsp 37 Apple Cider Vinegar 1 tbsp 3
Balsamic Vinegar 1 tbsp 14 Broth 1 tsp 5
Distilled Vinegar 1 tbsp 3 Fresh Chilies 1 tbsp 23
Fresh Jalapenos 1 oz. 4 Minced Onions 1 cup 64
Mustard 1 tsp 3 Red Wine Vinegar 1 tbsp 3
Vanilla Bean 1 pod 5 Vanilla Extract 1 tbsp 37

A delicious seasoning missing from the calorie charts is lemon juice. The Cleveland Clinic confirms raw lemon juice has no special ingredients to help you lose weight (20). However, one freshly squeezed lemon only contains 6.8 calories and flavors drinks and food nicely (21). 

Read more: Exploring the Nutritional Benefits of Eating Watermelon at Night.

Use Low-Calorie Sweeteners to Add Flavor

Some low-calorie natural sweeteners can help you eat fewer calories while flavoring your food. Natural sweeteners like monk fruit and Stevia are excellent for adding flavor. The Calorie Chart Database shows Stevia has zero calories (17). 

Erythritol is another natural sweetener to replace sugar and adds flavor to foods and beverages. It is a sugar substitute; you should carefully use it as it is a sugar alcohol which can cause digestive side effects. Registered dietician Kathleen Zelman confirms erythritol has zero calories (9).

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The University of Kansas Division of Agriculture confirms honey contains more calories than sugar (18). One tablespoon of sugar contains 45 calories, and one tablespoon of honey has 64 calories. However, honey is far sweeter, and people tend to eat much less. 


Do Herbs and Spices Have Calories?

Every herb and spice contains some calories. Some include more than others. For example, Strat-Tech shows how one teaspoon of rosemary contains four calories (6). However, one teaspoon of parsley only has one calorie. Ultimately, each one contains some calories. 

What Spices Have Calories?

The Calorie Chart Database shows one tablespoon of garlic salt has zero calories (17). The USDA shows one teaspoon of salt has no calories (15). However, both are high in sodium, which causes water retention (19). All other spices have some calories, from low to moderate. 

How Many Calories Are in Spices?

Spices have different calories per serving. Strat-Tech’s calorie chart shows one teaspoon of chili powder has eight calories (6). Meanwhile, a teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves has six calories each. However, a teaspoon of saffron only has two calories. 

Do Spices Add Calories to Food?

The Cleveland Clinic confirms that calories come from fats, proteins, and carbs (10). Every spice contains a hint of calories on the Strat-Tech calorie chart (6). You can use minimal salt, cress, basil, and dill to avoid adding very many calories.  

The Bottom Line

You have an excellent grasp of spices, herbs, and seasonings for weight loss. Truly, nothing is entirely calorie-free—understanding which spices, seasonings, and herbs to count matters. Enjoy every bite filled with nutritious flavors using the right spices. 



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 15 Herbs That Can Help You Lose Weight: Reduce Belly Fat (2022,
  2. 5 Benefits of Eating Spicy Food – Cleveland Clinic (2021,
  3. 5 Herbs & Spices with Great Health Benefits – MaxWell Clinic Nashville TN n.d.,
  4. 10 Herbs & Spices That Fight Inflammation: Natural Home Remedies (2022,
  5. Antioxidants – Better Health Channel (n.d.,
  6. Calorie Counter | Calories In Fresh, Ground, Dried Spices and Herbs (2015,
  7. Cilantro (coriander): Benefits, nutrition, and preparation tips (2019,
  8. Effect of piperine in regulating obesity-induced dyslipidemia in high-fat diet rats – PMC (2011,
  9. Erythritol: Uses, Benefits, and Risks (2022,
  10. Fat and Calories: The Difference & Recommended Intake (2019,
  11. Food Calculator: Carbs, Calories, Fat, Protein, and More (n.d.,
  12. FoodData Central: Basil, Fresh (2019,
  13. FoodData Central: Cress, Garden, Raw (2019,
  14. FoodData Central: Dill Weed, Fresh (2019,
  15. FoodData Central: Salt, Table (2019,
  16. Garlic salt by BRANDLESS nutrition facts and analysis (n.d.,
  17. Herbs & Spices Calories & Calorie Chart (n.d.,
  18. Honey Versus Sugar-Which is Healthier? | Is honey healthier than sugar? (n.d.,
  19. Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake – PMC (2017,
  20. Lemon Coffee: Can It Help You Lose Weight? – Cleveland Clinic (2022,
  21. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 100% nutrition facts and analysis (n.d.,
  22. The Healthfulness of Spices – Cardiac Wellness Institute (2018, 
  23. What Are Calories? | Live Science (2022,
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