3 Ways Capsaicin May Help Manage Weight

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Interviewer: Doctor we discussed a little about the benefits of capsaicin, can you explain how they work, when we adjust them what exactly is going on?

Dr. Bloomer: Sure, sure, a few different mechanism of action actually.  The first we mention before that the capsaicinoids often times not always, but often times in most studies have been reported to increase in energy expenditure. Typically this is something referred to thermogenesis, or the production of heat energy. Typically when we consume food, carbohydrate and protein in particular, as well as dietary fat of course, the dietary fat, the carbohydrate, the protein will be broken down into particular components and those components can then be used as a substrate for ATP energy productions.  So in terms of dietary fat for example, the dietary fat can be oxidized and it generates these electron carriers and without getting to technical, those electron carriers and those hydrogen ions that are produced can actually be used to generate ATP energy. Well the presence of the capsaicinoids, the capsaicinoids actually stimulates that have been called the uncoupling protein, and there are actually several uncoupling proteins but in particular the capsaicinoids stimulates the activity of the uncoupling protein called uncoupling protein 1, or UCP1 thermogenin. This particular protein allows for the hydrogen that are produced that particularly create ATP energy to be dissipated as heat so those hydrogens, rather than producing energy that is now available to our bodies to use it as a fuel source are to be stored those hydrogen ions that are actually producing heat energy.  And we can actually measure this in the laboratory typically through a technique called indirect calorimetry where we collect expired breath samples from the individual. We do this before ingestion of the capsaicinoids or other components as well as after the ingestion.  And across time we see that capsaicinoids tends to stimulate the increase in heat energy production and they do this again by upregulating or increasing the activity of uncoupling protein, a protein that is involved in the generation of heat energy so that would be one mechanism of action.  Another would be the capsaicinoids have been reported to stimulate something called the catecholamines. People are familiar with the adrenaline, for example, or with noradrenaline.  Well by doing this the catecholamines have an end result through a rather complex mechanism of increasing the availability of free fatty acids into the circulation so that can be broken down through a lot of complex process and then these fatty acids from the fat molecule can actually be released into the circulation. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're gonna be burned, sometimes you hear the term fat burning, but what we're saying those fatty acids are freed up and now they would be available to undergo oxidation or to be used as a fuel source. So if an individual is engaged in an exercise session etcetera and they had more free fatty acids available to them to use as a fuel source this may actually  be an outcome. ¬†So that's number two. So thermogenesis, elevating free fatty acid levels and the third the capsaicinoids have been reported to reduce appetite.  That maybe due to the increase catecholamines, because there's an anorectic effect of catecholamine. Some literature suggests that it comes from animal models that may regulate another important hormone that regulates the appetite called ghrelin. There's not a lot of evidence for that at this point but the bottom line is in some, not all, studies, but in some studies, that capsaicinoids have been noted to decrease appetite.  So collectivel,y increasing the energy expenditure, increasing the availability of the free fatty acids in the circulation and some studies had reported a subsequent increase in fat oxidation and then third potentially a decrease in appetite. So when you look all those things together, you can understand why these particular nutrients whether it's from a whole food or from a supplement form, may actually have favorable outcomes in terms of weight management across time.

Capsaicin may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to weight loss potential. But Dr. Richard Bloomer discusses the ways capsaicin works in the body and how it may actually help you manage your weight more efficiently. Find out three different ways capsaicin may help you do that.

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