Despite their fiery hotness, chili pepper consumption is on the rise. From the mild jalapeno to the fierce Carolina Reaper, eating chili peppers are more about the experience than the flavor and capsaicinoids are the active components responsible for their pungency and heat. Their growing popularity is not just limited to being a culinary spice — researchers who, for decades, have been examining the health benefits of capsaicinoids have found that the same mechanism responsible for the “burn” also play a role in firing up metabolism and energy production.
Back to Basics: Calories, Fats And Their Relationship With Energy Production
There is a reason many of us to count calories. Every calorie from food serves to give our bodies immediate fuel for energy or to build our energy store as fat when it is not needed. So, calories-in versus calories-out determine whether we lose weight or not. Fat is the preferred storage vehicle for the body because it is energy-dense. So efficient is the body at capturing and storing energy as fat that a person of normal body composition of 10-30% body fat has enough store potential energy to run approximately 500 to 1,000 miles without “refueling.” When burned, fat produces twice the number of calories than carbs or protein. Therefore, mobilizing fatty acids to support energy production and endurance during exercise is critical. For example, with moderate exercise like walking, running or cycling, the body prefers fatty acids for fuel. When consumed, capsaicinoids in red hot chili peppers have a similar biological effect as exercising and can act as a natural adjunct to mobilize fats for energy production and weight management.
Capsaicinoids Kick Up the Metabolism
A recent study shows that capsaicinoids have another major benefit to support healthy weight management: boosting resting energy expenditure—the amount of calories the body burns while at rest. This is an important factor for two reasons: it contributes to up to 60% of calories burned each day and declines when dieting and with age. When asked, 91% of consumers agree that their metabolism slows as they age and 80% are concerned that it contributes to weight gain. In a study investigating their effects on metabolic rate and heart rate, capsaicinoids supplementation significantly increased resting energy expenditure. Capsaicinoids’ ability to boost resting energy expenditure makes it an effective tool for weight management even outside of the gym.
Capsaicinoids Are Hot But They Are Safe
Red chili peppers are a staple food across the world and consumed in quantities as high as 15 grams per day without reported adverse effects. The consensus of several studies is that capsaicinoids pose no acute adverse effects on heart rate or blood pressure and no long-term safety concerns at dosages ranging between 1 mg/day to 135 mg/day. As a dietary supplement, 2 milligrams of capsaicinoids is an effective dose. Be sure to use a formula designed to bypass gastric digestion and release in the lower intestines to mitigates gastric upset that can result from unprotected capsaicinoids extracts.
Capsaicinoids are a potent class of compounds and science has demonstrated how these unique compounds benefit healthy energy metabolism and weight management. Safety data and the fact that capsaicinoids-containing foods are found in nearly every type of cuisine confirms they are safe to consume in amounts found in food and nutritional supplements. Their potential benefits to augment energy metabolism and boost resting energy expenditure support the use of capsaicinoids for endurance exercise and healthy weight management.
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Brian Appell is currently the Marketing Manager at OmniActive Health Technologies. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition. For the last 20 years, Brian has worked in the natural products industry in product development, business development and marketing. As a writer and editor, he has collaborated on several books and continues to contribute to magazine publications.