Hot peppers may seem like a fairly run-of-the-mill ingredient, but it could be the key to unleashing your brown adipose tissue (BAT) and getting rid of all that excess, unwanted fat.
Capsaicin (or Capsicum and industrially known as Capsimax) is the active ingredient in hot peppers and we’ve known about the fat burning power of Capsimax for years. Now though, we are starting to understand why in more detail, as more and more information becomes available about brown fat and its role in weight loss.
What is Brown Adipose Tissue (Brown Fat)?
It’s understandable if people interpret the word “fat” as a negative thing. Sure enough, too much white fat is definitely a bad thing – known as obesity, and one of the single biggest health problems currently scourging the entire globe, most notably in the United States.
Actually too little white fat is a bad thing as well – after all, we need the stuff for a lot of metabolic functions and necessary processes all the way down to basic survival.
On the whole though, the amount of people without enough fat is a tiny number compared to the pandemic of obesity.
Brown Fat, on the other hand, we might want to stick around for our entire lives, and even keep growing if possible.
Why would we talk such utter profanity? – Because brown adipose tissue, or brown fat, or BAT, if you like acronyms – burns white fat…and white fat is the stuff that makes us look like wobbly pudding if we let it get out of hand. You see, brown fat has close family ties (i.e. stem cell lineage) with muscle tissue, which a lot of people could do with at least a little bit more of.
Found around our neck, shoulders, chest and spine, brown fat is incredibly powerful stuff considering we only have a few ounces of the stuff over our entire body.
When we were babies, it was essential for increasing our core temperature when we got cold – real survival stuff! Babies can’t shiver, and shivering is one of the methods by which we heat up as youngsters and adults. Therefore BAT acts as the radiator in lieu of a shivering mechanism.
The heat comes from the mitochondria of cells – the little engine houses – as they kick up a few gears to warm the baby. By using fat to fuel the process they are essentially converting matter to energy and the stores of white fat shrink in the process.
As we get older we have less need for the system (because we can shiver) so the quantity of BAT doesn’t really grow. A few ounces to a baby was worth a lot more relative to the adult’s size.
The thing is, brown fat still can be activated – sleeping in a room at about 19 degrees celsius is one proven way – and it still burns other fat. It’s been found that people who naturally have more brown fat stores are generally leaner in body composition. And that’s why we want more of it, or at least, we want it to DO more!
So Where Does Capsaicin/Capsicum Come In?
This ingredient is linked with lower levels of obesity in parts of the world where it is a regular addition to peoples’ diet. Clinical studies support this. Capsaicin has several effects which causes weight loss:
- Increases energy use through the activation of Brown Adipose Tissue
- Improves/increases lipolysis if taken before exercise
- Increases satiety (feeling of satisfaction from food) thereby acting as an appetite suppressant
- Sensory effect improves mood, reducing need for comfort food
There is still room for more study on Capsaicin but the evidence so far is piling up in its favour as an excellent and healthy fat loss ingredient.
Eating a whole lot of peppers might help get some of the effect but it probably isn’t the most practical method. Instead many supplements contain a refined extract which you are able to take in much higher concentrations, and there won’t be any hot-pepper burn either.
What are the Best Capsaicin/Capsicum Supplements?
The trademarked industry standard extract is called Capsimax Most supplements containing that in a decent amount should give the desired effect. However, some products that have additional – synergistic – ingredients might tip the balance in their favour. More fat-burning for the same price, as it were.