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Chilli chemicals may heat up your metabolism

By Tim Cutcliffe contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags: Metabolism

Compounds found in chilli peppers appear to speed up metabolic rate, suggests a new study in Advances in Nutrition.

Individuals given a supplement containing capsaicinoids, the bioactive components that make chilli peppers hot, burnt an additional 122 kilocalories/ day (kcal/d) compared to the placebo group, found researchers from Arizona State University (ASU).

The capsaicinoids boosted metabolism (measured by Resting Energy Expenditure (REE)) by around 6% compared with the control.  The supplement dose of 2 milligrams/ day (mg/d) resulted in increased fat oxidation, and reduced appetite, without raising the subjects’ heart rate.

“The innovation of the study is to validate the effectiveness of capsaicinoids during the first real-time tracking of an individual’s metabolism,”​ commented first author Yue Deng. “It is important to measure the metabolism change with intake of the capsaicinoids, which is the most straightforward way to tell people this actually works or not.”

The study has further significance as it used an innovative calorie-measuring device called Breezing, which was developed by ASU Biodesign. The indirect calorimetry tool can be wirelessly linked to a mobile app and has been promoted as an affordable personal metabolic tracker and weight management tool.

“Although the results did show that the supplements had a positive effect on people’s metabolic rate on average, this study also brought the attention to the necessity of measuring real-time individual parameters with an affordable mobile device, which is becoming more and more important in individualized diagnoses and precision medicine,”​ Deng said.

Study Details

The pilot study, involving 40 people (average age 28), was a single-blinded randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial.  Subjects fasted for four hours and avoided exercise for 12 hours prior to consuming a measured calorie meal. The participants were given either the capsaicinoids supplement or placebo. The scientists measured REE at baseline and at one, two and three hours after the meal, enabling them to calculate the calories burned by the subjects.

Capsaicinoids are widely recognised for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

As next steps, the researchers plan to examine the effect of capsaicinoids in different population segments such as athletes, children, obese individuals and the elderly. Additionally, they intend to look at other bioactive compounds such as green tea to examine the reputed metabolic rate enhancement effect.

Source:  Advances in Nutrition

Volume 8, number 5, September 2017

“Capsaicinoids Enhance Metabolic Rate Using a Novel Metabolic Tracker Breezing Device: An Open-Label Study”

Authors: Yue Deng, Fang Chen, Vijaya Juturu, Erica Forzani

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