After years of yo-yo dieting and becoming a mother, 38-year-old Nagina Abdullah never thought she’d have the body she wanted.

"I was always counting my calories, I felt deprived all the time, I felt hungry,” said Abdullah, who added that taking a simple afternoon stroll with her children left her feeling rundown.

Abdullah is one of millions of American adults who has tried to shed pounds using popular diets, but the mother of two said she has finally found success by making a simple addition to her diet: adding spices.

When Abdullah began doing so, she said she lost 10 pounds in one month— and in a year, she lost 40.

“If you have 1 teaspoon of cumin [every day] for three months, you could lose up to three times as much weight as you would have otherwise,” Abdullah said.

Inspired by her success with the weight loss method, Abdullah started MasalaBody.com, a website where she shares tips and recipes via blog posts and a newsletter.

“After my two kids, I had aches and pains in my lower back,” she writes on her website. “I couldn’t fit into any of my old clothes, and worse, I just didn’t feel good about myself. I had 20 pounds to lose to be at my pre-pregnancy weight— and I was afraid I would never be the same person I was before.”

Abdullah— who now weighs less than she did pre-pregnancy— tries to reach for spices when preparing each meal of the day. For example, she mixes cinnamon into her breakfast smoothies to manage insulin levels and keep blood sugar low, and sprinkles nuts with red chili powder, which increases metabolism, as well as salt, pepper and cumin. For a quick dinner, she marinates chicken overnight with cumin, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, smoked paprika and coriander. She referenced her cauliflower, pea and carrot medley with turmeric, which reduces inflammation.

Experts say spices can be beneficial for weight loss, but an active lifestyle and eating well overall are key. Dr. Mariza Snyder, author of The Matcha Miracle, said exercising, avoiding processed foods, and opting for a plant-based diet when possible is crucial.

Today, in addition to adding spices to her food, Abdullah works out about twice a week. She’s energetic and confident, and no longer feels deprived. Plus, her weight is at an all-time low for her adult life.

"My life has changed because I seek out more active things to do now,” she said. “I want to go hiking with my kids, I want to go to the beach."  

Check out the following recipe for just one of Abdullah’s spicy snacks:

Masala Mixed Nuts

Ingredients:
2 cups mixed nuts (unsalted preferred)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1½ teaspoons garam masala (alternative: lemon pepper)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drizzle olive oil over nuts in a mixing bowl.
Blend all spices and add together.
Mix spices and nuts together well with your hands or a spatula.
Transfer to baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
Take out from oven and cool for 2 minutes.

To learn more about Abdullah and how to add spices to your meals, visit MasalaBody.com