Looking for an easy way to burn calories? Well, there's good news: You needn't resign yourself to eating bland foods. Studies have shown that the same spices that add zest to your meals can also boost your metabolism. In fact, many of these metabolism-revving spices can be found right in your own cupboards. So break out a cold glass of water, and prepare to spice up both your cooking-and your weight loss.

1. Cayenne. This notoriously hot pepper can certainly give your meal a kick, but there's more to this spice than meets the mouth. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, increases the body's overall temperature, thereby increasing the rate the body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates. Some studies suggest that the fiery add-on can help boost your metabolism by as much as 50 percent for three hours after ingestion. Further research indicates that cayenne fosters production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which, in tandem, may decrease appetite.

2. Ginger. Commonly used in Asian-inspired dishes, ginger not only adds serious flavor; it can also fuel your metabolism. Like cayenne pepper, ginger inspires thermogenesis-increase in body temperature-which results in a metabolism boost. An Australian study found that ginger can increase metabolic rates by as much as 20 percent after intake. As an added bonus, two other studies by the same group suggest that ginger aids in lowering cholesterol.

3. Black pepper. Often unfairly paired with water-retaining, cholesterol-boosting salt, black pepper has several little-known health benefits. Studies suggest that it may help to help dissolve lipids (fats) and relieve symptoms caused by heartburn, indigestion, and intestinal gas. And when it comes to heightening your metabolism, black pepper is one of the best spices around. According to experts, piperine, the active chemical in black pepper, triggers parts of the brain and the nervous system, which, in turn, boosts the body's production, resulting in more calories burnt.

4. Cinnamon. Often used in baking, cinnamon can add flavor to anything it touches. A study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service found that a substance called MHCP, which is found in cinnamon, makes fat cells more responsive to the body's insulin, aiding in glucose (sugar) metabolism. Not surprisingly, then, it can be a great weight-loss tool for anyone. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your oatmeal, tea, or coffee for a new twist on dieting.

5. Turmeric. A staple ingredient in Indian cuisine, turmeric is notoriously spicy-and health-enhancing. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce arthritis symptoms, turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, helps to burn fat, promote proper metabolism, and corrects bile excesses and deficiencies. Turmeric also aids digestion by breaking down high-protein foods and preventing the formation of gas. The next time you head over to your favorite Indian restaurant, think about all the great metabolism revving you'll be doing once you leave.

6. Mustard. Often when we think of mustard, we think of the not-so-healthy hot dog. Few people realize that the mustard seed is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as calcium, dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, protein, selenium, and zinc. Spicy mustard (not the run-of-the-mill, yellow kind) can also kick your metabolism into high gear. In fact, a researcher from England's Oxford Polytechnic Institute discovered that eating a teaspoon of hot mustard can boost metabolism 20 to 25 percent for several hours after eating, burning about 45 calories if a 700-calorie meal is consumed.

7. Horseradish. Cousin to the mustard plant, horseradish is known as the spicy ingredient in wasabi and a fixture in fiery cocktail sauces. Horseradish also has an amazing ability to dissolve fat in cells and has a cleansing effect on the body. Horseradish stimulates digestion, especially of the fatty foods with which it is often paired.

8. Garlic. Although it may give you halitosis when eaten in large doses, studies show that garlic can help to lower blood pressure and control cholesterol. What's more, its active compound allicin has anti-bacterial effects. As if that weren't reason enough to buy a few bulbs, garlic has been shown to reduce unhealthy fats and jump-start weight loss.