When you eat spicy food with hot peppers, the burning sensation you feel is caused by something called Capsaicin. Found in plants belonging to the genus Capsicum, notably hot peppers, this compound is an irritant for mammals (1). It’s the reason your mouth burns and your eyes water. And if you wipe your nose or eyes after handling peppers containing capsaicin, you’re sorry afterwards.
However, apart from being a compound which makes foods spicy, capsaicin has other applications too. Due to its properties as an irritant, capsaicin is the main ingredient in pepper spray. Also, it can be used in pest control solutions and is especially effective against mammalian pests and other pests. What’s more, the compound has pain relieving properties. Several analgesic patches and ointments have capsaicin as the active ingredient (1). On top of all, that, capsaicin supplements can help people lose weight.
In this article, we explore capsaicin’s properties as a weight loss aid. Specifically, we’ll examine a few medical studies and also highlight user reviews.
How Does Capsaicin Cause Weight Loss?
How can eating hot peppers cause weight loss? In general, capsaicin gets your heart beating and your blood pumping. Mary-Jon Ludy, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Bowling Green State University says, “Because your body perceives that it’s under stress, it burns more calories (2).”
For people who want to lose weight, eating chili peppers or taking a capsaicin dietary supplement can lower your body weight, speed up metabolism, help you burn more fat and even decrease your appetite. Not only that, but consuming capsaicin may also improve physical endurance and athletic performance (3).
Below are details on capsaicin effects on your body and how it may lead to weight loss (4):
- Metabolic Rate — Consuming 10g of red pepper with capsaicin seems to increase enhance metabolic rate (the rate at which the body uses energy) for about half an hour after a meal.
- Fat Oxidation — When the body uses the energy in fatty acids, this is fat oxidation. Taking 150 mg of capsaicin orally an hour before a low-intensity workout has been shown to increase fat oxidation (fat burning) in healthy adult males.
- Thermogenesis — Capsaicin helps to increase the body’s heat production (thermogenesis).
- Adipogenesis — There appear to be anti-obese effects of capsaicin supplementation. Specifically, it seems to prevent the adipogenesis — the gathering of triglycerides into fat cells.
Studies on Capsaicin and Weight Loss
Below are some medical studies which highlight the weight loss properties of capsaicin.
Capsaicin and Rabbits
One study used rabbits to examine the effects of capsaicin on body weight. The rabbits were given one of two diets — either a high-fat diet (the control) or high-fat diet with 1% hot pepper. At the end of the study, the rabbits which consumed hot peppers had lower body weights that the other rabbits. The conclusion is that capsaicin can prevent obesity related to diet (5).
Overweight Adults and Capsaicin
In this study, 91 moderately overweight participants were placed on a four-week VLED regime (very-low-energy diet) followed by a three-month weight-maintenance period. Moreover, during this weight maintenance phase, participants were either given a capsaicin supplement or a placebo. In the end, the capsaicin group experienced more fat oxidation than the placebo group (6).
Capsaicin, Mice, and Exercise
Some researchers note a link between exercise, capsaicin, and exercise. In this study, two groups of mice were fed different diets. One group received a normal diet and the other received a high-fat diet along with capsaicin for twenty-five weeks. The group of mice which consumed capsaicin exercised longer and gained less weight. Overall, capsaicin improved endurance and reduced weight gain in the mice (7).
A Review of Several Studies
In a review of several studies, researchers noted capsaicin’s thermogenic properties. Although the compound itself doesn’t contain very much energy, its natural properties cause the body to burn energy. In fact, consuming capsaicin produces a negative energy balance (burns more energy than it contributes). As a result, capsaicin can be useful in anti-obesity therapy. What’s more, it does this without significantly increasing blood pressure. The review of these studies concluded that capsaicin boosts fat burning (8).
According to medical research and the testimonies of real people, taking a capsaicin supplement can help a person lose weight. As a weight loss aid, capsaicin helps your body burn energy, burn fat, and boosts your metabolism. On top of that, it can also improve athletic performance, making your exercise more effective. Furthermore, capsaicin has other health benefits uses as well including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Capsaicin Weight Loss Supplement Reviews
People who have tried capsaicin for weight loss have a variety of reactions. Below are some common things people say about capsaicin supplements:
- ‘Lose a pound a day’ — One reviewer actually claimed to have lost seven pounds in a single week when they began taking capsaicin for weight loss. Others report losing 10 pounds in two weeks. Although results vary from person to person, many people experience weight loss when taking capsaicin.
- ‘Won’t make you jittery’ — People who have previously taken other weight loss supplements and appetite suppressants, they comment that taking capsaicin doesn’t make them jittery as the other supplements do.
- ‘No burn’ — Many people who appreciate the benefits of capsaicin prefer to take a supplement as opposed to eating spicy foods. The main reason is that unlike eating spicy peppers or spicy foods, capsaicin supplements don’t burn their mouths, throat, esophagus, or stomach.
- ‘Warms me up’ — Other people who take capsaicin for weight loss comment that it warms them up. This is especially helpful for people with slower metabolisms who have a hard time getting warm in winter.
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