Remember the last time you ate a chili pepper? Well, you can blame that fiery burning sensation that ripped through your gullet on capsaicin. It probably comes as no surprise that capsaicin heats up your metabolism. That means that it also revs your thermogenic engine, causing enhanced caloric expenditure. One of the mechanisms it uses to do this involves stimulating our fight or flight syndrome, which occurs in response to stressful situations, such as fire in the throat. The response induced is a surge in the supply of adrenaline, which gives a rush of energy. All of this just may make capsaicin a great aid in your workout nutrition in general and in your fat loss endeavors in particular.
Capsaicin is an active ingredient found in chili peppers. It is classified as an irritant for humans as a result of the burning effect that it produces immediately upon consumption. It is even used as an animal repellent. It is used medicinally to relieve certain types of pain such as associated with rheumatoid arthritis, muscle pains, and sprains. It is available as a prescription medication and comes as a lotion, a cream, gel, ointment, liquid, and a stick.
It is believed that capsaicin aids in digestion by increasing the amount of digestive fluids in the stomach. It also appears to fight bacteria and counter the effects of diarrhea. Capsaicin is also recognized as an antioxidant. This is important for regular exercisers who are prone to free radical damage after a workout. This hot little compound is also believed to help with mucus build up in the lungs by thinning the mucus and assisting its removal. It is even believed to be a preventative for emphysema. Capsaicin is recognized as a safe supplement. It may, of course, take some getting used to by those inexperienced in its use.
Recent research reveals that this hot little compound may be especially beneficial in promoting post exercise caloric consumption.
A Korean study involved a group of trainees who were given 200 mg of capsaicin 30 minutes before a moderate training session that involved 30 minutes of exercise at 50% of their maximum exertion level. A control group did the same level of exercise without any supplementation. Results showed that the supplementation group increased their post exercise fat burn to a greater degree than the control group. In addition, the capsicum group was able to restore their nervous system and heart activity to their pre-exercise state more quickly than the control group.
Dutch researchers found similar results on a previous study with capsaicin, with the additional finding that taking capsaicin a half hour prior to eating reduced food intake by 8%. Interestingly, taking the supplement with tomato juice boosted the reduced calorie intake to 28%. This study showed that supplementing with capsaicin actually increased feelings of fullness, known as satiety, while decreasing the amount of fat intake by study participants. They key to success appears to be taking a capsaicin supplement 30 minutes prior to exercise. Whether people are disciplined enough to do so is another matter.
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Int J Obesity, 29:682-688, 2005
Journal Sports Science & Medicine, 9:253-261, 2010