How Can Capsicum Affect Your Weight?
Many people will be shocked to find that Capsicum is not some rare and magically created ingredient but rather it is an extremely common one that can probably be found in most of the meals that you eat. This is because, although it might have a different name to the one that most people are used to hearing, when we speak about Capsicum we are in fact referring to the fruit which we would call peppers or chillies here in the UK.
What you also might not know is the fact that this fruit has multiple uses other than just to spice up your meals. The Capsicum plant is actually often used in medicines to treat a variety of different conditions including stomach pain, digestive problems, cramps, high cholesterol and heart disease amongst others. The particular ailment the treatment of which we are primarily concerned with in this article is obesity and the related ability of Capsicum to promote weight loss.
It might surprise you too that the use of Capsicum is not new within the diet industry and it has in fact been long known by many of the fruit cultivators that it may have thermogenic effects within the body. This is said to be related to the fact that the fruit has its characteristic fiery taste.
The plant itself has been grown and harvested for thousands of years and is native to the Americas. But how can one fruit do all of these things you might wonder? This is a usual question from those who only know the fruit for its culinary purposes and to answer it we must look to see what it is that the Capsicum contains which makes it so useful in all three of the food, medicine and weight loss industries.
Most variations of the fruit (excluding the bell pepper) contain a substance called Capsaicin, which is scientifically known as Methyl Vanillyl Nonenamide. This is a chemical, which has the ability to dissolve in fats within the body, and it is this substance in particular that is responsible for the burning sensation that you experience during the consumption of most peppers and chillies. It is also this specific compound that is responsible for the use of Capsicum in most medicines and has been for many years before it was introduced into the modern medical industry.
In terms of weight loss in particular, Capsicum is alleged to have the ability to increase both the thermogenic and metabolic rates within the body and how exactly it is claimed to do this will be discussed below. For these reasons, Capsicum has become a common ingredient, which can be found in most herbal dietary products available on the weight loss market.
As well as this, Capsicum can help those who ingest it to obtain their recommended daily dose of Vitamin C, which also has links to weight loss that will be examined below.
It is safe to say then that what most people would see as a welcome addition to a bland meal, is actually a lot more than this in terms of the useful abilities that It possess and which exist inherently and naturally within it. This article will show you how just by increasing the amount of Capsicum you consume in your diet, you are potentially giving yourself a head start in the race to lose those few pounds that seem impossible to shift.
How Exactly Can Capsicum Help With Weight Loss?
The Capsicum fruit is claimed to have a large impact on weight loss through a number of different processes some of which can affect the weight of a user directly and some of which work via a more direct link with the reduction of body weight.
Direct weight loss effects
First, let’s start by finding out how it is claimed to directly allow those who ingest it to burn more fat and thus lose weight more efficiently and easily.
The first of these claims relates to the fact that peppers are rich in Capsaicinoids. These are produced as secondary metabolites, which mean that they are not essential for the plant to survive, but are produced to aid in its growth and development; this is why varieties such as the bell pepper do not contain such substances. Capsaicin, mentioned earlier, is a type of this compound. They are claimed to have the ability to boost the metabolism and increase the rate at which fat is burnt within the body thereby reducing the overall amount of calories that we store as extra body weight. More specifically, the fruit is what is known as a thermogenic agent meaning that it can increase the rate at which this extra ‘weight’ is released from body stores and burnt by the creation of heat.
In order to explain how this works, imagine you have just eaten a pepper. There is no doubt that it just caused the temperature of your body to rise as this is what is often described as the ‘hotness’ of most spicy foods. When your core body temperature rises, this stimulates an increase in the metabolic rate as more heat has been generated that causes fat to be burnt quicker. This is what is described as thermogenesis; it is the creation of heat that can decrease our weight and this is specifically because thermogenesis stimulates brown fat cells to burn off our white fat cells, which would otherwise be stored.
You might also recall that when you eat foods such as peppers, you tend to sweat a lot due to their spiciness. This sweating can also decrease weight by a minor amount indirect as you lose what is most often referred to as ‘water weight’ i.e. the water, which your body has been storing and building up inside itself.
It was also mentioned above that Capsicum contains a large amount of Vitamin C, which can also be beneficial for those attempting to lose weight. This is because Vitamin C is needed for the proper metabolism of fats to be carried out in the body. It is more specifically required for the promotion of molecules that are needed and used in the oxidation (burning of) and metabolism of fatty tissue. It is said that without the recommended levels of Vitamin C in your diet, your body will find it harder to use up the fat that is already stored and thus individuals will find it hard to lose any weight.
As well as this, a lack of Vitamin C may also result in efficient exercise. As we have seen, inadequate levels of this Vitamin leads to a build-up of stored fat, which also results in a reduced use of fat through exercise meaning that even less, can be burnt even though users are putting in maximum efforts.
So this is how the ingestion of Capsicum can promote weight loss directly and it seems as though it does have the potential to be significantly useful to those trying to lose weight but as if increased fat burning and a quicker metabolism weren’t enough, Capsicum also has indirect ways of stimulating weight loss.
Indirect weight loss effects
To start with think back to when you were eating that pepper or chilli. When you did this, you might recall feeling somewhat alert or on edge, this is because when you eat these sorts of foods, your adrenaline also increases and this results in a further increase of energy. This is beneficial to weight loss in two ways; firstly, more energy available means more can be used to metabolise foods and obviously, this means that the metabolic rate is increased in much the same way as is described above. The second way however is more indirect but still very useful. If you took Capsicum as a weight loss supplement, every time you ingested the pills, you would be increasing your energy, this would allow you to increase the amount of exercise that the body could withstand doing in any period of time and it is no surprise that increased exercise can have major effects on weight loss.
Capsicum extract is also said to be able to reduce LDL Cholesterol levels. This is the cholesterol in low-density lipoproteins and is most commonly known as our ‘bad cholesterol’. High cholesterol in particular can result in the body becoming less sensitive and even resistant to insulin. This contributes to weight loss via the fact that the body feels like it needs to consume more in order to make up for all the insulin that it thinks it is not receiving.
Related to this point is the fact that Capsicum extract is also alleged to be able to stabilise blood sugar levels, which can keep you feeling fuller for longer and help the body to decide when it needs to eat on a more effective basis. This is most likely to result in a reduced consumption of sugary foods, which can also affect how much weight an individual might lose.
Most indirectly though Capsicum is said to be helpful in maintaining the health of skin, eyes and mucus membranes which allow them all to function more optimally. As well as this, it can also stimulate blood circulation due to its abilities to increase the temperature of the body.
Although not resulting in weight loss per se, all of these things can help users who are trying to lose weight as they help to make sure that the body is functioning fully and at optimal levels, which put them in a better position for losing weight compared to those whose bodies may not be working as efficiently.
What Do The Studies Say About Capsicum – Are Its Weight Loss Claims Fact Or Fiction?
The claims above relating to the use of Capsicum are by no means unimpressive and if they prove to be true, this particular ingredient could have extremely significant effects for those trying to lose weight but are they founded in science or are they just an exaggeration?
One of the main advantages of the fact that Capsicum has been around so long is that there are a range of clinical studies available, which can be used to answer this question. The following trials have been conducted by researchers and represent the general views about Capsicum and its weight loss benefits.
The first of these concerns Capsicum’s alleged ability to be able to act as a thermogenic agent. This specific study can be found published in the Public Library of Science along with various other studies concerning the same subject matter. In this instance, the addition of capsaicin in the diet was examined in relation to the thermogenic properties of Capsicum. As you will recall, capsaicin is a substance found within this compound.
The subjects took part in four 36-hour sessions in a respiration chamber in which their energy expenditure, substrate oxidation and blood pressure were measured. They were split into four groups and received either 100% or 75% of their daily energy requirements via either 100% capsaicin, 100% control (placebo), 75% capsaicin or 75% control (placebo).
Capsaicin was used at a dose of 2.56mg in the form of 1.03g of red chilli pepper, which ranked 39,050 Scoville heat units. This was given to the selected subjects to ingest with every meal.
The results showed that contrary to popular belief, in this case there was no significant rise in thermogenesis induced by the treatment of Capsaicin. There was however, a significant change noted in the sleeping metabolic rate (SMR) of the subjects in which the control groups were considerably lower than that of those groups receiving the Capsaicin supplement. As well as this, fat oxidation levels were also notably increased by the ingestion of Capsaicin and also resulted in a lower respiratory quotient (RQ) which serves to further demonstrates that more fat had been oxidised in these groups. Also worth noting is that the blood pressure of the subjects did not differ from each other in any of the four groups.
Although in the particular study above it was noted that Capsaicin produced no significant thermogenic effects, there are a variety of studies that say otherwise including the following.
One study carried out by researchers at a Mumbai University measured the effects of Capsaicin via the treatment of Capsimax; a weight loss supplement based on this compound.
The subjects who took part in the trial were a mixture of both males and females with a mean age of 33. The study lasted for a period of 8 days during which different bodily measurements were taken in order to calculate the body composition of the subjects.
The treatment consisted of active ingredients extracted from red pepper (Capsicum annum) which had 2% by weight of capsaicinoids. The extract was made into beadlets and then suspended in sunflower oil before being made into a hard gelatine capsule to be ingested by the subjects. These capsules were given to the subjects twice a day for the eight consecutive days over which the study took place.
The results showed that the treatment was well tolerated among all of the subjects and only one of them reported gastric discomfort from taking the capsules. There were no significant changes in either fluid consumption, food intake or appetite but a thermogenic increase was noted. The subjects showed changes in body composition which the researchers concluded was down to the fact that the capsules could act as a thermogenic agent and also emphasises that the subjects had more lean weight after taking the pills compared to their body composition before the treatment. They concluded that capsaicin is a ‘promising bioactive ingredient in the process of weight maintenance’.
It seems then from the above studies, that generally Capsicum will have the weight loss effects that are claimed to materialise as a result of its ingestion.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As far as research tells us, there are no known serious side effects associated with the ingestion of Capsicum as a weight loss supplement. This is hardly surprising seeing, as it is a natural fruit, which is eaten by humans in various meals every day.
It is worth noting however that extremely large doses over prolonged periods of time may result in a few side effects, which are thought mostly to be mildly unpleasant such as gastric or digestive irritation.
Capsicum supplements are also not suitable for those who cannot tolerate spicy ingredients and are particularly sensitive to these types of foods. In this case, capsicum supplements will result in much the same effects as if you had eaten it via a meal and may result in stomach cramps, loose stools or abdominal cramps in those who are not able to tolerate it well.
What Do The Reviews Say?
In order to provide a well-rounded and well representative opinion on Capsicum as a weight loss aid, it is most beneficial to look at the reviews left by people who have tried and tested supplements containing this as the primary or sole ingredient for themselves and have been able to document their experiences with it.
There are a variety of different branded weight supplements, which include Capsicum as their optimal ingredient, and it would be practically impossible to look through the many thousands of reviews that result. Due to this, we have looked through a variety of reviews and found that a particular brand – Capsiplex, seems to have reviews, which fit with the overall opinion of most users. For this reason, we have decided to base this article on these particular user reviews as they seem to us to be some of the most varied and descriptive.
All reviews mentioned here come from the website Amazon.co.uk, as we believe that this is a reputable source with independent reviews left by real and non-biased users. Of course, there will be some instances where reviews might be left by those working for diet companies although Amazon as a company is extremely good at monitoring this and so we feel that these reviews can give an accurate description concerning the opinions of the public as a result of real life testing.
Out of 271 customer reviews, an impressive 145 people gave Capsiplex a 5 star rating with a further 79 ranking it with 4 stars; this is over half of the total reviews. A frequent recurrence in these positive reviews is the mentioning of the fact that no side effects were experienced during the use of the supplement. Even in the lower star reviews, only very few of them complained of any side effects and when they were noted they were usually things like increased sweating or dizziness which may be a result of particular sensitivity to the compound.
One potentially serious side effect that was noted in a very small minority of the reviews (quite literally only 2) was breathlessness. There is no mention of the occurrence of this side effect in any of the Capsicum clinical studies or on any of the professional medical websites associated with the substance. We also do not know if the users who wrote these particular reviews suffered from any underlying medical condition, as it is obviously not wise to take this supplement if you are already prone to breathing problems.
It would seem then that this too may also be a result of an intolerance to the supplement but it is worth mentioning to point out the potentially serious effects it can have if you are prone to an intolerance to it. It is of course recommended that you consult a GP before trying out any diet product even if it is a natural supplement such as this; just to be sure, that it poses no serious risks to your health and safety.
Aside from this, the most common complaint with the lower star reviews was that the Capsicum did not work to help the users lose any weight after 1 month. This is in sharp contrast to those who boasted of up to a 2 stone weight loss in this same period of time. Since the majority of reviews are positive, it seems unfair to rule out Capsicum’s weight loss effects completely over a relatively small number of reviews but the difference in weight loss may be explained by individual sensitivity to the substance. For example, if you eat spicy foods that include Capsicum on a weekly or daily basis, of course its weight loss effects will not be as dominant as if you had only consumed it on a rare occasion. This is because the body can build up a tolerance to ingredients, which it has been accustomed to accepting within the body.
Having said this, many of the 4 and 5 star reviews emphasised the fact that the supplement was used in conjunction with either a low calorie diet, an exercise regime or both. This suggests that Capsicum works best in combination with a well thought out weight loss regime. After all, it does only claim to promote or aid weight loss and does not purport to magically reduce your weight. This would be a far-fetched claim for even the strongest of natural ingredients due to the fact that they are often found in foods that we already consume and so the power of their additional effects is of course limited to our tolerance etc.
Capsicum Overall Verdict: Does It Work?
As with most diet products, there is no definitive answer to this question as individuals’ reactions to certain supplements depend entirely on their particular sensitivities hence the differences in weight loss described in the user reviews.
From the scientific evidence, however it does seem that if Capsicum is used in the right dosages and in the right contexts i.e. as part of a healthy weight loss system, it does definitely have the potential to be able to speed up your weight loss.
Considering that it is a natural ingredient that we ingest on a fairly regular basis compared to other weight loss ingredients, we see no harm in potential consumers testing out the ingredient for themselves in order to see whether it works for them. The lack of serious side effects makes this a fairly risk free solution and will allow you to decide if this particular supplement is for you.
See below for diet pills we have reviewed that contain capsicum.
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