Up until a decade ago, the fat loss supplement that manufacturers loved to pump into their thermogenic products and that gym goers loved to put into their bodies was ephedra. This product worked – but it also produced a scary tingling sensation and a general weird wired feeling that just didn’t feel right. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra in 2004. Ever since, supplement makers have been on the lookout for the new ephedra. Various pretenders have come and gone, lacking the real world results of the original thermogenic fat blaster. The latest natural thermogenic to undergo the spotlight is capsaicin, the active ingredient in red pepper. Capsaicin has been making waves with some impressive clinical study results that are making supplement makers and fat loss adherents sit up and take notice.
Capsaicin comes from the white pulp of chili peppers.
Capsinoids, such as capsaicin, cause a deep burning sensation when they come into contact with the skin. In facts they are often used in heat wraps and analgesic balms. A recent study out of the University of Maryland Medical School involved the administration of capsinoids to obese men and women at the rate of 6 mg per day for 12 weeks. A control group was given a placebo for the same period of time. The study involved 80 participants in total. The capsinoid group lost more fat than the control group, with a noticeable enhanced loss in abdominal area fat. Capsinoids were well tolerated by both groups. Those in the capsinoid group lost an average of 2 lbs of fat compared to 1.1 lbs for the control group – nearly double the amount. Fat oxidation was also higher in the capsinoid group. The researchers concluded that supplementation with capsaicin at the rate of 6 mg per day is safe and well tolerated and effective for the loss of fat in general and abdominal fat in particular. They recommended longer term studies to ascertain the ongoing effects of supplementation with capsaicin.
Other studies have confirmed the Maryland results, showing that capsinoids can actually prevent the growth of fat cells, reduce hunger and trigger the metabolism of fat. A study out of Daegu University in South Korea investigated the effect of capsaicin on adrenaline levels and fat loss. The study, involving rats, revealed that supplementation with capsaicin stimulated an increase in the production of adrenaline in the adrenal glands, leading to a surge in energy. The researchers also took note that there were changes in the key proteins in fat cells that affected fat deposition. Like the University of Maryland study, they also found that capsaicin supplementation enhanced metabolic rate, leading to improved calorie burn. In addition, the rats that were fed with capsaicin lost 8 percent more body fat than those in the control group. An unexpected result was that the capsaicin-fed rats showed changes to the expression of more than 20 key lipid processing proteins. This observation is allowing researchers to develop a greater understanding of the anti-obesity effects of supplementation with capsaicin.
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American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89: 45-50, 2009
Journal of Proteome Research, 9: 2977-2987, 2010