Promotes Lipolysis—The Breakdown of Fat

Although our bodies prefer to use carbohydrates for energy, we can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate for that purpose. Once we’ve used up that supply, we need to start breaking down the fat we’ve stored. The process by which we start to break down that fat is called lipolysis. The more fat we use to produce energy, the less fat that we’ll store away. Capsaicinoids can help this process since they support the mobilization of fats for energy.

Capsaicinoids trigger lipolysis through a cascade of effects that begin with the activation of a receptor in the brain called TRPV1. Activation of TRPV1 triggers the release of two substances in the adrenal glands called catecholamines, specifically epinephrine and norepinephrine. You may know these substances as the “fight or flight” hormones. These substances are responsible for preparing the body for physical activity. Norephinehrine triggers its own set of events that ultimately results in the activation of enzymes called lipase that breakdown the fats circulating in our blood stream and stored as fat tissue. The breakdown of fats releases free fatty acids, which are used as fuel for the body in the absence of carbohydrates.

Several research studies have looked at the impact of capsaicinoids on fat tissue within the body. Seven trials have found evidence of increased fat utilization or decreased fat stores. One study found a significant increase in fat metabolism—as measured by a process called lipid oxidation—among participants taking capsaicin supplements for four months.[1]

Capsimax®, the patented encapsulated form of natural capsicum extract from OmniActive Health Technologies, has been shown to be particularly effective in mobilizing free fatty acids for energy production. In a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind, crossover study in 20 men and women, circulating blood levels of free fatty acids were higher for two hours after taking a Capsimax supplement containing 2 mg of capsaicinoids with no observed side effects.[2]

Capsaicinoids use may be more beneficial for those with higher levels of body fat. Fat oxidation was significantly increased in those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more.[3] Those with a BMI of 25 or greater are considered overweight.

In another randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 45 obese participants were assigned to receive a supplement containing Capsimax, raspberry ketone, caffeine, garlic, ginger and citrus aurantium or a placebo. After eight weeks of daily supplementation, a calorie-restricted diet and exercise training, the group taking the Capsimax-containing supplement lost more weight, more body fat and more waist and hip girth than the placebo group. The Capsimax group also gained more lean body mass.

[1] Lejeune, et. al. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Brit J Nutr (2003), 90, 651–659.

[2] Bloomer, et al. Effect of oral intake of capsaicinoid beadlets on catecholamine secretion and blood markers of lipolysis in healthy adults: a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind, cross-over study. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Jul 15;9:72.

[3] Inoue, et. al., Biosci Biotechnol Biochem (2007), 71(2), 380-89.