Supports Healthy Metabolism

To understand how capsaicinoids promote a healthy metabolism, it helps to know what metabolism is, and more importantly, what a healthy metabolism is.

Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat and drink into energy. That energy helps our body conduct its day-to-day functions like breathing, circulating blood, growing and much more. The energy needed for those functions is called our basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the number of calories we need to keep our bodies up and running. Think of it as the amount of fuel you need to run your car. Just as different cars require different amounts of gas, people have different BMRs. Your BMR depends on your size and body composition, your gender, your weight and age. In general, the smaller you are and the less body fat you have, the lower your BMR. Women also tend to have lower BMRs then men. Your BMR also decreases with age.

Beyond your BMR, the number of calories you burn is also affected by the heat your body produces when consuming food—a process known as thermogenesis—and the amount and type of physical activity you engage in every day.

What Fuels Our Fire?

Just as our cars perform and function better on certain fuels than others, so do our bodies. While we can use protein for energy, our bodies prefer to use carbohydrates and fats so that we can spare protein for making hormones, muscle, and other essential functions. Our preferred source of fuel is carbohydrates but we can only store them in limited amounts, at which point they turn to fat. Since we can only store carbohydrates in limited amounts—enough for a day or two—our bodies use them as its primary source of energy. When we’ve used up our carbohydrate supply—or when carbohydrates are scarce—our bodies turn to their fat stores for their energy needs.

When we eat fat from food, it is broken down into smaller substances called free fatty acids, which can travel in the blood and get delivered to cells where they are needed. The fatty acids that aren’t used are readily stored in fat cells called triglycerides. If energy needs exceed those provided by fats in the diet, the body must liquidate some of its fat tissue for energy.

Revving Our Engines

So is there any other way to rev up your engine and burn more fuel? Several studies have looked at the effects of capsaicinoids on energy expenditure and have seen an average increase of 50 to 100 calories per day following supplementation with capsaicinoids on their own or with other ingredients.[1]

While it is unknown whether 50 calories is enough to have an overall effect on weight, some experts theorize that an additional 50 calories per day is what triggered the general increase in body weight in the United States over the past 20 to 30 years. Those experts suggest that burning 50 more calories per day could produce a medically significant weight loss. Others, however, are more cautious. They believe that the participants in those studies could have burned an additional 50 calories merely as a result of the natural changes that take place in our resting metabolic rates from things like stress, poor sleep, cold weather and other factors.[2]

Capsimax®, the patented encapsulated form of natural capsicum extract from OmniActive Health Technologies—in combination with black pepper extract, niacin and caffeine—increased energy expenditure. In the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study of 28 healthy participants, energy expenditure and oxygen consumption rate (VO2) were greater for the supplement than the placebo at 50 minutes after ingestion.[3]

Capsaicinoids are thought to increase energy expenditure by stimulating the release of hormones that cause the action of an enzyme called lipase. Lipase’s role in the body is to break down the fat in our bodies so we can use it for fuel, particularly in brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat.

Brown fat and white fat (white adipose tissue - WAT) are the two types of fat in our bodies.

Brown fat tends to burn more calories than white fat when activated. Lean people tend to proportionally have more brown fat than overweight and obese people. Children also have more brown fat than adults do and it is thought that it helps keep children warm. White fat’s role is to store energy and produce certain hormones.

The break down of brown fat increases energy expenditure and may help decrease fat mass.

Unfortunately, BAT (brown fat) levels decrease as we age, leading to an increase in weight gain. Because capsaicinoids can reactivate BAT into producing energy[4], consumption of capsaicinoids may help individuals maintain a healthy weight with aging.

[1] Whiting, et. al. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite 59 (2012) 341–348

[2] Whiting, et. al. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite 59 (2012) 341–348

[3] Ryan et al. Acute effects of a thermogenic nutritional supplement on energy expenditure and cardiovascular function at rest, during low-intensity exercise, and recovery from exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 May;23(3):807-17.

[4] Yoneshiro, T., et. al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Apr;95(4):845-50