Despite the current health and wellness craze, more than 1 in 3 US adults are classified as either overweight or obese — that’s nearly three times more than 50 years ago (1). Years of research examining the mechanisms underlying weight management continue to affirm the basic principle that balancing calories consumed versus calories expended is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
A Balancing Act
On one side of the equation is total caloric intake from foods and beverages. On the other side, is total energy expenditure resulting from physical activity, resting energy expenditure and diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). Of all the factors influencing energy metabolism resting energy expenditure makes up the largest—about 60–75% in sedentary people. As such, it is a major factor in energy balance and changes in weight (2).
Many factors can tip the energy balance one way or the other — to weight gain or weight loss. One obvious input is the type and number of calories consumed and is often where most people start to effect a change. The simple rule is that if caloric intake is less than the total energy expenditure, energy balance is tipped towards weight loss. However, weight management isn’t that simple given the fact that despite a deficit in caloric intake, weight loss can become progressively more difficult or even reverse. The body’s ability to “fight” against caloric restriction often leads to frustration and people abandoning their weight management goals. The culprit lies in the body’s ability to shift its metabolism — effectively reducing resting energy expenditure in an effort to conserve energy reserves.
Tipping the Scales with Capsicum Extract
Diet and physical activity are the first steps to tipping the scale in favor of weight management. To further support long-term weight management, maintaining resting energy expenditure during caloric restriction is key. Dietary supplements known as “thermogenics” can influence resting energy expenditure (4). These agents can be classified as stimulatory or non-stimulatory depending on their effect on heart rate and blood pressure (5). The most commonly used stimulatory thermogenic is caffeine (5).
Among the non-stimulatory thermogenic agents are a group of compounds called capsaicinoids—the pungent component of red hot chili peppers responsible for its “heat” (5). In a recent study looking at the effects of capsaicinoids on resting energy expenditure in healthy men and women, 2 mg of capsaicinoids from 100 mg Capsimax was found to significantly increase resting energy expenditure by greater than 6% (9). This increase was equivalent to an increased caloric expenditure equivalent to about 100 calories each day over the placebo group. Although seemingly small, supplementing with 2 mg of capsaicinoids from 100 mg Capsimax over the course of 30 days has the potential to support energy expenditure equivalent to approximately 3,000 calories—almost a pound! Imagine what is possible over the course of a year in terms of expenditure. This increase can help keep the energy balance tipped in favor of healthy weight management.
- CDC, Adult Obesity Data. 2017, Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html Jan 31, 2018.
- Connolly, J., T. Romano, and M. Patruno, Selections from current literature: effects of dieting and exercise on resting metabolic rate and implications for weight management. Fam Pract, 1999. 16(2): p. 196-201.
- Johnstone, A.M., et al., Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine. Am J Clin Nutr, 2005. 82(5): p. 941-8.
- Dulloo, A.G., The search for compounds that stimulate thermogenesis in obesity management: from pharmaceuticals to functional food ingredients. Obes Rev, 2011. 12(10): p. 866-83.
- Stohs, S.J. and V. Badmaev, A Review of Natural Stimulant and Non-stimulant Thermogenic Agents. Phytother Res, 2016. 30(5): p. 732-40.
- Szallasi, A. and P.M. Blumberg, Vanilloid (Capsaicin) receptors and mechanisms. Pharmacol Rev, 1999. 51(2): p. 159-212.
- Whiting, S., E. Derbyshire, and B.K. Tiwari, Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite, 2012. 59(2): p. 341-8.
- Reyes-Escogido Mde, L., E.G. Gonzalez-Mondragon, and E. Vazquez-Tzompantzi, Chemical and pharmacological aspects of capsaicin. Molecules, 2011. 16(2): p. 1253-70.
- Deng, Y., et al., Capsaicinoids Enhance Metabolic Rate in Normal Healthy Individuals using a Novel Metabolic Tracker Breezing Device-An Open Label Placebo Controlled Acute Study. Obes Open Access, 2017. 3(2).
Dr. Culver possesses doctoral degrees in both Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences from Washington State University. She has authored or co-authored over 35 publications. Her research focused on myogenic and adipogenic stem cells and the dedifferentiation of mature adipocytes to form proliferative-competent progeny cells. She practiced as a small animal veterinarian before entering the human and animal nutrition industry. Dr. Culver is currently Director of Scientific Affairs, OmniActive Health Technologies, Inc.