Despite the massive growth and huge earning capacity of the fitness supplement industry, it remains an industry with lackluster regulations. This leaves hard training athletes and average fitness enthusiasts alike at the mercy of slick marketing campaigns designed to convince them of the amazing benefits of some new wonder supplement on the flimsiest of evidence. That’s why it is imperative to check out the cold, hard facts before parting with your hard earned cash.
Supplements to enhance the training effect may be directly ergogenic to improve workout performance. Others are taken as nutritional support to provide the rebuilding building blocks needed post workout. Still other supplements are designed specifically to maximize the body’s ability to burn fat. These are known as thermogenic aids and the latest to make waves is an analog of capsaicin known as capsiate.
You may not have heard of capsaicin before, but it’s quite likely that you’ve felt its effects. That’s because it is the component of hot peppers that makes them hot or spicy. The analog of capsaicin that we are interested in, however, is neither hot nor spicy. Research has shown that capsiate increases the amount of oxygen that we burn at rest, increases our body temperature and enhances fat burning. It is also believed to help stimulate the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands, increase alertness and generally heighten our preparedness for exercise. That’s an impressive list of benefits. So, what’s the evidence?
A recent study out of Japan, led by Dr. Yoriko Masuda, investigated the effects of continuous capsiate supplementation on the energy levels of mice. The amount of heat released by oxidation was measured and researchers also investigated whether capsiate affected the uncoupling proteins in the amount of brown fat, white fat and skeletal muscle, thus promoting fat loss.
The results clearly showed that oxygen consumption was higher in the capsiate group as was fat oxidation and carbohydrate expenditure. In addition abdominal fat accumulation was significantly reduced in the capsiate group compared to the control group. There was also a notable increase in brown fat tissue in the capsiate group, leading to enhanced fat metabolism.
A second Japanese study, led by Dr K. Ohnuki, showed that capsiate enhanced the secretion of adrenaline in mice. This suggests that capsiate has the ability to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. In the same study capsiate was seen to increase adrenaline release in rats 30 minutes after administration.
Dutch researchers have collaborated these findings. They found that spices, such as capsicum not only trigger thermogenesis, they also curb the appetite. In addition, the Dutch research team also found that adrenaline release is enhanced when such thermogenic spices as capsaicin, black pepper, ginger, black tea and green tea were supplemented. They concluded that including these hot spices as a part of your nutritional plan may stimulate the release of adrenaline and enhance metabolism, leading to faster fat loss.
These studies are very promising and indicate that human trials are warranted. No conclusive recommendations can be made until that time but all indications are that capsaicin may well spur you on to greater fat loss.
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Physiology Behaviour, 89:85-91, 2006