Dried Red Chili Does Red Pepper Promote Weight Loss?Do you know about red pepper, which has so far been regarded as an ingredient to add flavor to multiple cuisines world over? Did you know that it acts as an effective check on body weight?
Red pepper’s body heat generating power, produced by its active component known as capsaicin, works actively against those extra pounds hanging around your belly. And if you are worried about the burning sensation caused by hot peppers, then worry not, as there is a non-burning variety of capsaicin, known as dihydrocapsiate. You can derive the same benefits of red pepper from dihydrocapsiate without having to bear the pungency.
Also known as cayenne or capsicum, hot red pepper is native to Central and South America, which soon became an essential culinary ingredient and a preservative in Africa and Asia. Shortly it was realized that cayenne possessed medicinal value, so it began to be used as a painkiller and in the treatment of arthritis, asthma, indigestion, sore throat, cancer, and even respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with more than 300 million obese people spread throughout the globe. Obesity statistics from major countries in all continents—except Africa, South America and Antarctica—show that collectively in these countries one every seven persons is obese, having a Body Mass Index over 30. Studies have revealed that obese people are more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension, and even cancer. Drastic changes in behavioral patterns, such as an increase in sedentary attitude, have added to the growing number of obese people throughout the world. Since 1980, the obesity rates seem to have risen three-fold to the point where today one-third of the American population is obese.
Now there is a good piece of news for those of you who are troubled by those extra pounds. Scientific studies carried out during the last 15 years convincingly suggest that capsaicin helps in weight loss and halts formation of fat tissue. This has resulted in the birth of numerous red-pepper-containing diet pill formulations that claim to effectively assist dieters in their weight loss efforts, side effect-free.
Red Pepper Reduces Appetite
Back in the late nineties, two studies were carried out to find whether red pepper had any influence on the human feeding behavior and caloric intake.
The first study was conducted on 13 Japanese women who were offered a breakfast either with or without 10g of red pepper. When 3 hours later, at lunchtime, they were exposed to a second meal, those who had eaten the red pepper-containing food in the morning reported significantly reduced desire to eat and as a result consumed less food—mainly less protein and fat.
The second study involved 10 Caucasian men. They were given an appetizer with or without 6g of red pepper right before lunchtime. They were subsequently asked to proceed to lunch and eat as much as they wanted, until they felt full. Those who consumed the red pepper-containing appetizer consumed less food not only at the lunch that immediately followed the appetizer, but also at the snack offered 3 hours later, in the afternoon.
These two studies show that the appetite suppressing effect of red pepper begins soon after it has been consumed and lasts for several hours thereafter.
A few years later, another study was conducted on 12 men and 12 women, to assess the effect of red pepper on human appetite. Before each meal, the participants were given 0.9g of red pepper or a placebo, in tomato juice for two consecutive days. During these two days, red pepper-women consumed 14% fewer calories than placebo-women, and red pepper-men consumed 16% fewer calories than placebo-men.
caffeine Does Red Pepper Promote Weight Loss?Red Pepper and Caffeine For Weight Loss – A Synergistic Combination
In 2001, Yoshioka and his team attempted to uncover the effect of capsaicin and caffeine combination on appetite. In this study, a group of 8 men were kept under observation for 24 hours, during which time they consumed 3 meals, 2 snacks, appetizers, and desserts and drinks. This process was repeated one more time. This time, however, lunch and dinner contained around 8g of red pepper and one of the drinks had 200mg of caffeine in it.
Participants reported that the desire to eat was lower the second time. As a result the intake of food was reduced by more than 500 calories. Researchers suggested that habitual consumption of capsaicin and caffeine within normal doses along with other dietetic adjustments could aid in reducing obesity prevalence. This is why Capsiplex, a very popular capsicum-based weight loss pill, contains caffeine as a major ingredient.
Red Pepper Has a High Thermic Effect Which Boosts Fat Loss
Our metabolic rate is influenced by the food we consume. Food, in order to be processed and stored, requires energy to be expended. This increment in energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate—released from the body as heat—is called thermic effect of food.
Capsaicin has a strong thermic effect as it increases the energy expenditure. Scientists at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition tested 34 men and women for 28 days. Some of the participants were given placebo pills while others were asked to consume supplements containing dihydrocapsiate (DHC), the non-hot cousin of red pepper. The participants were constantly monitored and energy expenditure was measured after consuming a standard low-calorie meal replacement product.
The team, lead by Professor David Heber, found that the energy expenditure rate was increased in the DHC group. This increase was sustained for several hours after the test meal was eaten. The active ingredient increased food-induced heat production and fat oxidation, which resulted in more fat being used as fuel.
Red Pepper Prevents Growth of Fat Cells
Obesity is the result of accumulation of extra and unused calories in the body in the form of fat. It depends on two processes–lipogenesis and adipogenesis.
The conversion of unused calories into fat is known as lipogenesis, which takes place in adipocytes or fat cells. The fat storage capacity of a person increases with the rise in the number of adipocytes. The process of creation of adipocytes is known as adipogenesis.
In 2007, two Taiwanese food scientists provided evidence that capsaicin can prevent the formation of adipocytes, decreasing the amount of fat tissue and blood-fat levels, and inhibiting lipogenesis, which limits the fat storing capacity of an individual, thus preventing obesity.
dna Does Red Pepper Promote Weight Loss?Red Pepper Activates Anti-Obesity Genes
Later, Jong Won Yun and colleagues attempted to identify the molecular mechanism behind the fat-burning effect of red pepper. Their first report, published this summer, showed that capsaicin prevents fat buildup in the human body by controlling the expression of certain obesity-related genes.
In this study, lab rats were subjected to high fat diets with or without capsaicin and the concentration levels of more than 20 proteins were analyzed. A number of beneficial protein changes were noted in the case of capsaicin-fed rats, which resulted in loss of 8% of body weight. These proteins are involved in the metabolism of fats and their role is to prevent fat storage.
Red Pepper Burns Calories Equivalent to a 20-Minute Walk
At the beginning of 2010, researchers at the University of Oklahoma reported that they were able to quantify the calorie-expending capacity of red pepper. To this end, they tested 28 people twice; with a capsule containing a placebo at one time and a capsule containing capsaicin and caffeine at a different time. To measure the resting energy expenditure, participants were asked to lie down for half an hour or walk on a treadmill. Soon after the administration of the capsule, the metabolic rate in those who were administered Capsiplex increased by 8%. What’s more, the calories spent were equal to those spent in a 20-minute walk.
While many studies have established the safety and effectiveness of red pepper as a natural remedy for weight loss, I would like to point out that it is the combination of lowering fat, eating more low glycemic index carbs, enriching your diet with fiber and unsaturated fatty acids and exercising daily that guaranties steady fat loss and a better health. Consuming caffeine and red pepper, though significantly helpful, is not by itself the solution to carrying extra pounds.
About the Author
After completing his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry, Matthew Papa worked as a research fellow at Washington University, in Saint Louis, Missouri. Matthew is interested in functional foods and their use for weight management and as meal replacements. Matthew loves writing about current research findings and is a believer in the power of Nature in providing the best natural anti-obesity products. His site offers a discount for Medifast, a Nutrisystem promotion and a discount code for Weight Watchers, three clinically studied weight loss programs.
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3. Combined effects of red pepper and caffeine consumption on 24 h energy balance in subjects given free access to foods.Yoshioka M, Doucet E, Drapeau V, Dionne I, Tremblay A. Br J Nutr. 2001 Feb;85(2):203-11.