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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman


New Study!

 Capsaicin is an ingredient found in chili peppers that contributes to the hot and spicy flavor of the chili pepper. Capsaicin may be a useful ingredient in weight-loss/fat-loss supplements such as AML Thermo Heat®. Several studies have shown that a single ingestion of capsaicin can activate brown fat thermogenesis for greater fat burning. We have two types of fat: brown fat and white fat. The more brown fat we have, the more calories we burn! Also, capsaicin reduces appetite, calorie intake and helps promote weight loss by binding and activating the transient receptor potential vanilloid -1 (TRPV1) within the oral cavity, stomach and small intestine. By activating the TRPV1 receptor, it releases noradrenaline and dopamine. Research has shown that increasing noradrenaline and dopamine can increase weight loss/fat loss and exercise performance. TRPV1 activation provides the heat sensation from capsaicin and increases energy expenditure, lipolysis, fat oxidation and fat burning. Capsaicin has been shown to decrease appetite and increase satiety by increasing glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and decrease ghrelin (the hunger hormone) in the stomach (European Journal of Nutrition, 2009).

 A most recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in August 2018 found that taking 12 mg of capsaicin, 45 minutes before squat exercise, improved total mass lifted with lower rates of perceived exertion. Activation by TRPV1 increases the release of calcium, increasing force-generating capabilities in skeletal muscle. Several studies have shown that capsaicin can increase exercise performance. The benefits may be due to increase fat as fuel during exercise and glycogen-sparing effect. The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effect of capsaicin on strength performance and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The researchers hypothesized, “Capsaicin consumption would enhance performance during resistance exercise.” The study used a randomized double-blind, crossover design and looked at 10 young men, who had at least one year of resistance weight-training experience, at a frequency of three days per week. Before exercise testing, each participant randomly consumed either the placebo (50 mg of starch) or 12 mg of pure capsaicin. The capsules were identical to ensure double-blind design. The capsaicin and placebo were ingested 45 minutes before the exercise test, because capsaicin reaches key concentrations in the blood 45 minutes after supplementation.

 According to the investigators, this is the first study to look at the effect of capsaicin on muscle growth. Results of the study confirm the researchers’ hypothesis that capsaicin supplementation would improve resistance training performance. Capsaicin and supplementation resulted in improved performance, specifically in more repetitions and greater total workload performed during four sets of back squats to muscle failure!

 One potential mechanism that may explain the performance benefit effects is the analgesic effect of capsaicin. Topical capsaicin has been used as a pain reliever in over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The researchers said, “Capsaicin increases the total volume of exercise, which has been shown to increase muscle hypertrophy and growth.” Other potential mechanisms might be through an increase in nitric oxide. Research has shown that chili peppers and capsaicin can lower blood pressure. A most recent study reported in the August issue of Cell Metabolism found that capsaicin leads to blood vessels relaxing by increasing nitric oxide, which can increase blood flow to muscle. This study is the first to look for a molecular link between capsaicin and lower blood pressure. Also, research has shown that capsaicin can reverse the negative impact that hypocaloric diets have on testosterone production. In humans, capsaicin intake has been shown to decrease ghrelin (the hunger hormone) levels and increase testosterone levels. Capsaicin can increase energy expenditure and fat loss, and boost testosterone levels while consuming a low-calorie diet. A French study recently published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior surveyed men between the ages of 18 and 44 and asked them what they liked when it came to spices. The men were given mashed potatoes and were allowed to put as much hot sauce or salt that they liked. The men with the higher testosterone levels showed that they liked the hot sauce more. The amount of salt had no bearing on the testosterone levels.

A new 8-month study on capsaicin found that it caused long-term weight loss and metabolic health in mice eating a high-fat diet. According to the article published in ScienceDaily on July 17, 2018, “A novel drug based on capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their spicy burn, caused long term weight loss and improved metabolic health in mice eating a high fat diet, in new studies from the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy.” Capsaicin works by converting white fat to brown fat activating TRPV1 receptors.

 The new drug, Metabocin, contains capsaicin. It looks like they’re trying to develop a capsaicin product as a prescription anti-obesity drug. “We observed marked improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels, insulin response, and symptoms of fatty liver disease,” reported Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan, lead investigator, describing how Metabocin reversed many damaging effects of the high-fat diet. He presented the results this week at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, the leading international conference of experts on food and fluid intake. “It proved safe and was well tolerated by the mice,” Thyagarajan concluded. “Developing Metabocin as a potent anti-obesity treatment shows promise as part of a robust strategy for helping people struggling with obesity.” The findings of this study need to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Also, the study was done on mice and needs to be confirmed in humans.

 For best results, quick-release supplements of capsaicin are best! Enteric-coated (delayed release) capsaicin powder supplements or capsules may not be as effective because they may bypass the TRPV1 receptors in the mouth, stomach and small intestine (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005; Neurogastroenterol, 2002; J Comp Neurol, 2003).



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de Freitas, M. et al. Acute Capsaicin Supplementation Improves 1,500-m Running Time-Trial Performance and Rate of Perceived Exertion in Physically Active Adults. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: February 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 572-577. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002329

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