Capsaicin is best known for being the source of heat behind hot peppers, but it has many health benefits as well. In fact, many scientists believe that you can use capsaicin to lose weight. While the compound was first identified and extracted all the way back in 1816, its value as a weight loss aid was discovered fairly recently. Most importantly, the research suggests that capsaicin can help you to lose weight without any need for reducing your caloric intake. A study on mice suggested that this alkaloid compound allowed mice to eat a high-fat diet with no corresponding weight gain.
How capsaicin helps you lose weight: It increases metabolism
Capsaicin is believed to increase a person’s metabolism by about 8 percent on average. The process by which capsaicin speeds up metabolism and boosts weight loss is called thermogenesis. The term thermogenesis refers to the body’s production of heat. Thermogenesis is why the consumption of hot peppers often causes reactions like redness and sweating.
In order to raise your core temperature, calories have to be burned. Those calories come primarily from a type of fat called brown fat or brown adipose tissue. The body uses this type of fat for thermoregulation. The other type of fat is called white fat; this is the type of fat that accumulates on our waists and thighs. Some researchers believe that capsaicin can help to convert white fat to brown fat. Interestingly, this is also what happens when you exercise. In other words, capsaicin may be able to provide the same benefits as working out.
Capsaicin stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to speed up the metabolism and cause heat production. It does this by causing your body to produce adrenaline.
How much capsaicin do you need to lose weight?
A 2013 study found that 2.6 mg of capsaicin administered every 36 hours for a period of 144 hours was able to prevent the slowdown or “plateau” that many people experience when dieting. The capsaicin in whole habanero peppers has been found to measure between 9 mg per gram to as high as 59 mg per gram depending on the habanero variety. This means that you may be able to get the required amount of capsaicin from a little more than a third of a gram of some types of habanero. To put this in perspective, a habanero on average weighs 8.7 grams. One habanero can easily cover the entire 144-hour period if the study holds true.
Types of capsaicin supplements
You can use capsaicin to lose weight without having to experience the burning sensation. In fact, researchers have found that the compound still has weight loss benefits even when a stomach tube is used to bypass the mouth. Adrenaline is still produced and energy is still used. This means that you can still get its benefits, even if you are not a fan of spicy food.
Your supplement options include:
- Cayenne pills: Cayenne pepper pills are widely available. They may consist of the actual fruit or of extracted capsinoids.
- Green tea and cayenne combination: Both of these ingredients stimulate the thermogenic response. Combining them is thought to multiply their respective benefits.
- Create a tincture: Combine one part cayenne to two parts vodka or Everclear. Store in a dark place and stir every two days. In about four weeks, your tincture will be ready.
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