If you read the label on any supplement geared at weight or fat loss, chances are you'll probably see something called "capsaicin."
If you aren't familiar with capsaicin, it's an extract of cayenne pepper that's typically added to weight loss products due to its thermogenic properties.
And although the name may seem strange, it's an entirely natural constituent of any chili pepper, but primarily cayenne pepper, with what appears to be some pretty extraordinary power.
The typical search result you'll find if you look up cayenne pepper, or more specifically, capsaicin, is something to do with capsaicin and weight loss or fat loss.
So, if that's the first thing you find from a search, what's the link? Can cayenne pepper actually help you lose weight? That's what you're about to find out.
What Is Cayenne Pepper?
Cayenne pepper is a spice derived from the Capsicum annum plant, along with bell peppers, jalapenos, and pimientos, and is also part of the nightshade family.
It is a pepper that is often used to add heat and flavor to various dishes, and while you can eat cayenne peppers raw, they are most often dried and ground to create a powder.
Cayenne also contains a lot of medicinal properties, so it's a staple in many herbalists' books.
On the Scoville scale—a measurement of heat—cayenne peppers average anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000, meaning they've got a pretty good kick to them and definitely not something you want to overdo it on!
Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne peppers have more than just versatility in the kitchen. They have some potent properties than can affect your overall health and well-being:
1. Decrease Pain Sensation
One of the interesting properties of cayenne pepper is its ability to reduce pain topically (i.e. when applied to the skin).
The hot and spicy taste of cayenne is because of a compound called capsaicin, which is also responsible for pain relief.
It does this by acting on sensory nerves in which pain signals are transmitted along.
As well, capsaicin is considered a neuropeptide-active agent that affects the synthesis, storage, transport, and release of substance P 1.
When amounts of substance P are depleted in nerve endings (nociceptors), pain signals cannot be transmitted to the brain; thus, we don't feel pain.
Other research suggests that topical application of cayenne promotes pain relief by attenuating cutaneous hypersensitivity through a process called 'defunctionalization'.
Defunctionalization results from a temporary loss of membrane potential (required for nerve signal transmission), resulting in the inability to transport neurotrophic factors and the reversible retraction of nerve fibre terminals 2.
2. Boosts Fat Burning
The idea that eating hot foods can turn up the heat in your body and make you burn more calories is nothing new—it's called thermogenesis, and it's one thing cayenne pepper is known for.
One specific study looked at the effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals and the impact it had on energy metabolism.
The study used four experimental conditions: high-fat meal, high-fat meal with red pepper (10g), high-carb meal, or a high-carb meal with red pepper.
Interestingly, results showed that adding red pepper to the experimental meals significantly increased diet-induced thermogenesis and lipid oxidation, especially in those who consumed the high-fat meal.
But on the other hand, carbohydrate oxidation decreased significantly with the addition of red pepper 3.
Taken together, these results indicate red pepper can increase diet-induced thermogenesis and lipid oxidation, which may contribute to fat and weight loss with long-term consumption.
3. Reduces Appetite and Cravings
Cayenne pepper may also help to reduce cravings and appetite. Several studies have shown cayenne pepper as a useful supplement to reduce hunger and increase fullness and satiety 4.
However, be mindful that the available research on capsaicin/cayenne pepper and appetite suppression is mostly inconsistent.
4. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Cayenne pepper has long been used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels. This includes improving poor circulation, reversing and preventing blood clots, lowering high cholesterol, and preventing heart disease.
Research shows that the capsaicin in cayenne pepper can help to clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits and dilate arteries and blood vessels to help remove clots and improve blood flow 5.
Other Medicinal Benefits
In terms of medicinal benefits, cayenne better has also been shown to be:
- Diaphoretic—a herbal action to increase heat in the body to promote sweating and reduce fever
- Sialagogue—increases the flow of saliva making it a great addition to meals to improve digestion
- Rubefacient—increases blood flow to surface tissues when applied topically
How Much Weight Will I Lose?
Several clinical trials have reported positive findings with capsaicin ingestion on metabolic rate and weight.
They have concluded that capsaicin can moderately enhance energy expenditure, while also boosting fat oxidation and decreasing appetite—effects that are both conducive to weight management 6.
But while cayenne pepper may help you shed a few pounds, don't count on it to help you drop substantial amounts.
Remember that regardless of how much you work out or what supplements you add to your diet, eating healthy and balanced meals that support energy and performance is always key to weight and fat loss.
And no amount of supplements or spices is going to out-work a poor diet and lack of exercise.
If you're taking cayenne pepper regularly though, studies show that 2mg of capsaicinoids taken before a meal can help reduce energy intake by up to 74 calories 7.
While that may not seem substantial, over time, it adds up! Another study from 2012 showed that consumption of capsaicinoids could increase energy expenditure by 50 calories per day 8.
However, if you want to maximize the results that you may see from cayenne pepper, combining it with other thermogenic ingredients in something like Burn Lab Pro is your best bet.
It's the perfect combination of forskolin, cayenne pepper extract, HMB, GTF chromium, and black pepper extract designed specifically to rev your metabolism, burn calories, and shed fat, all while preserving lean muscle mass and supporting muscle growth.
Just two capsules daily are all you need to ignite, burn, boost, and build.
- B Altinterim. Cayenne, Capsaicin and Substance-P. RRJoHS. 2013 Jan; 2 (3): 11-14.
- P Anand, K Bley. Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. Br J Anaesth. 2011; 107(4): 490-502.
- M Yoshioka, S St-Pierre, M Suzuki, A Tremblay. Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. Br J Nutr. 1998 Dec; 80(6): 503-10.
- J Stuby, I Gravestock, E Wolfram, G Pichierri, J Steurer, JM Burgstaller. Appetite-Suppressing and Satiety-Increasing Bioactive Phytochemicals: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019; 11(9): 2238.
- MJ Adams, KD Ahuja, DP Geraghty. Effect of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin on in vitro blood coagulation and platelet aggregation. Thromb Res. 2009 Dec; 124(6): 721-3.
- MF McCarty, JJ DiNicolantonio, JH O'Keefe. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart. 2015; 2(1): e000262.
- S Whiting, EJ Derbyshire, B Tiwari. Could capsaicinoids help to support weight management? A systematic review and meta-analysis of energy intake data. Appetite. 2014 Feb; 73: 183-8.
- S Whiting, E Derbyshire, BK Tiwari. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite. 2012 Oct; 59(2): 341-8.