Life Extension Magazine®

Man running on treadmill burning calories for reduced body mass with capsaicin support

How Capsaicin Burns Body Fat

A compound in red chili peppers called capsaicin increases calorie burning. A clinical trial showed reduced body mass after just 28 days.

By Michael Downey.

Sometimes, no matter how much we diet, we don’t lose significant weight.

Many people ask, “Why am I not losing more fat pounds when I am eating less and watching my calories?”

One reason is that the body adapts to lower calorie intake by burning less energy when we’re at rest.1,2

Scientists have long searched for a solution to increase resting energy expenditure.

A compound derived from red chili peppers, called capsaicin, does exactly that.2,3

The challenge was finding a way for people to take capsaicin at a dose that will yield the desired effect without experiencing stomach irritation.4

The solution is an encapsulation process that protects the stomach while delivering capsaicin’s thermogenic properties to the body.

In a clinical trial, encapsulated capsaicin was shown to promote weight loss in just four weeks.4

Compared to the placebo group, people taking capsaicin had greater reductions in body weight.4

Why Diets Stop Working

One principle of weight gain is simple—energy intake exceeds energy expenditure.1

Reducing calorie intake and increasing exercise is usually viewed as the best way to overcome this imbalance.1,3

However, a phenomenon known as adaptive thermogenesis can limit the success of a calorie-lowering, weight loss program.2

Thermogenesis is a body process that converts calories into heat energy. This allows the body to maintain a stable temperature, support healthy metabolism—and control body weight.5

Adaptive thermogenesis occurs when the body reacts to reduced calorie intake by lowering the amount of energy (fat) it burns, particularly when the body is at rest.1,2

This makes it harder to lose weight and creates a vicious cycle in which the more calories are reduced, the less effect it has on weight loss. It’s one reason that dedicated dieters often regain weight.1,2

This is where thermogenesis comes in.

Augment A Weight Loss Plan

Nutrients that support thermogenesis can help augment an existing weight management program by increasing the resting energy expenditure, burning more fat and calories.6

One of the most potent, plant-based thermogenic compounds is capsaicin. It is the major “thermogenic” compound in red chili peppers.3,4

Capsaicin increases resting energy expenditure, so that more calories are burned even when the body is at rest.

It has long been of interest as a means to boost the effects of a weight loss program.

Activating Beneficial Brown Fat

Scientists believe capsaicin’s thermogenic properties relate to its ability to activate brown fat.3,6-9

Normal fat is white fat, which can be pro-inflammatory when accumulated in excess, particularly when it collects in the abdomen.

Brown fat, on the other hand, burns energy, often when triggered by cold temperatures. While white fat cells store excess energy, brown fat cells dissipate energy as heat.8,10

Brown fat tissue is associated with greater calorie burning and protection against obesity and metabolic diseases.10

Preclinical studies also show that the presence of brown fat is associated with thermogenesis, lower body mass index (BMI), and improved fasting glucose levels.3,6-8

By activating brown fat, capsaicin supports weight loss.

Capsaicin’s Fat-Reducing Mechanism

Research published in 2021 by Harvard Medical School suggests that capsaicin can mimic the effect of cold temperatures in order to activate energy-burning brown fat cells.10

It appears to do so by activating a protein known as TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1), which regulates body metabolism and temperature.3,6,7

By activating TRPV1, capsaicin triggers the body to activate brown fat cells, which in turn burn calories through thermogenesis.3,6,7

Protection Against Stomach Irritation

There has long been a problem with taking capsaicin. It is the compound responsible for red chili peppers’ heat.

Capsaicin can irritate the lining of the digestive tract, causing nausea, diarrhea, and acid reflux.4,11

Scientists have devised a solution.

Encapsulating the capsaicin in a patented fiber hydrogel inhibits the compound’s irritating effects and gastrointestinal discomforts.11

This allows capsaicin to be safely ingested and better absorbed.

What you need to know

Boost Your Weight Loss Plan

Capsaicin, a compound derived from red chili pepper, has been shown to increase the body’s energy expenditure by promoting the burning of calories, even at rest.

The stomach discomfort associated with oral ingestion of unformulated capsaicin has long discouraged its use.5 Scientists have developed a formula that provides a safe and tolerable way to obtain its weight loss benefits.

A human study shows that this new form of capsaicin reduced body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index, and appetite.

This patented capsaicin formulation can help boost any existing weight loss program.

Clinical Validation

To test this capsaicin formula, researchers enlisted 21 overweight volunteers aged 38 years, on average, for a placebo-controlled clinical trial.4

Subjects were already moderately active, getting one to five hours of moderate exercise weekly. During the study, they maintained their regular food intake and activities. They also completed two questionnaires about appetite and eating behavior.

One group took 200 mg of encapsulated capsaicin every morning, half an hour after breakfast, while the other received a placebo.

After only 28 days, the capsaicin group had:4

  • An average 2.1% reduction in body weight (compared to 0.32% for the placebo group),
  • A mean 4% decrease in waist-to-hip ratio (vs. 1% for the placebo group), and
  • A reduction of 2.2% in body mass index (vs. 0.3% for the placebo group).

This 2.1% body weight reduction represents a loss of about one pound of weight per week.

The questionnaires revealed that treated subjects reported a significant reduction in uncontrolled eating and appetite.

The encapsulated capsaicin was found to be safe, with high tolerability, and was determined to be well-absorbed into the blood.

Other Benefits

Capsaicin is associated with effects beyond thermogenesis. Increasing evidence suggests that it may play a role in:3,7,11-13


Studies show that capsaicin, derived from red chili peppers, increases resting energy expenditure and boosts the burning of calories.

Researchers have created a unique form of capsaicin by encapsulating it in a plant fiber hydrogel. The result is more thermogenic benefits without the stomach distress of regular capsaicin.4

Clinical data show that it can safely promote weight loss, lower waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index, and reduce appetite.

This capsaicin formulation offers a new way for people to augment a weight loss program.

Not All Capsaicin Is the Same

Capsaicin is derived from red chili pepper. Studies have shown that it is an effective compound to help reduce body weight by promoting energy expenditure.5,6

Regular capsaicin can cause stomach distress. This has discouraged people from taking advantage of capsaicin’s weight loss benefits.

In a recent development, a patented process surrounds the capsaicin, using a fenugreek galactomannan fiber, which allows for sustained, targeted, and minimally irritating intestinal delivery.

This enhances absorption and bioavailability.4

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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  3. Zheng J, Zheng S, Feng Q, et al. Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Biosci Rep. 2017 Jun 30;37(3).
  4. Joseph MA, John Ph DF, Thomas MJV, et al. Influence of a Novel Food-Grade Formulation of Red Chili Extract (Capsicum annum) on Overweight Subjects: Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study. J Diet Suppl. 2021;18(4):387-405.
  5. Stohs SJ, Badmaev V. A Review of Natural Stimulant and Non-stimulant Thermogenic Agents. Phytother Res. 2016 May;30(5):732-40.
  6. Whiting S, Derbyshire E, Tiwari BK. Capsaicinoids and capsinoids. A potential role for weight management? A systematic review of the evidence. Appetite. 2012 Oct;59(2):341-8.
  7. Varghese S, Kubatka P, Rodrigo L, et al. Chili pepper as a body weight-loss food. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Jun;68(4):392-401.
  8. Becher T, Palanisamy S, Kramer DJ, et al. Brown adipose tissue is associated with cardiometabolic health. Nat Med. 2021 Jan;27(1):58-65.
  9. Fernandez-Verdejo R, Marlatt KL, Ravussin E, et al. Contribution of brown adipose tissue to human energy metabolism. Mol Aspects Med. 2019 Aug;68:82-9.
  10. Available at: Accessed October, 24, 2022.
  11. Joseph A, Maliakkal Balakrishnan A, Natinga Mulakal J, et al. A green approach for the sustained-intestinal delivery of red chili (Capsicum annum L) extracted capsaicinoids with enhanced bioavailability. Journal of Functional Foods. 2021 2021/10/01/;85:104658.
  12. Lv J, Qi L, Yu C, et al. Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2015 Aug 4;351:h3942.
  13. Shi Z, Riley M, Taylor AW, et al. Chilli consumption and the incidence of overweight and obesity in a Chinese adult population. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Jul;41(7):1074-9.